What differentiates Skanska from the competition?
Skanska is both a developing unit and a construction unit, and our biggest differentiator today is that we are an equity player, we do all the development with our own money, which gives us freedom to look at opportunities differently. This is why we are now entering Romania, when nobody else is.
Are you interested only in new developments or in redevelopment projects too?
We are looking mostly at new developments, because they go hand-in-hand with our strategy, which is to make the first and best sustainable buildings, always thinking about the future. When it comes to older buildings and refurbishments, they go through our construction unit, which has a green refurbishment program.
What does sustainability mean to you and to your business?
I came to Poland in 2008 and when I talked about sustainability, they explained to me that Central and Eastern Europe was a different planet. But today we are building the first passive office building in Poland, Atrium 1, which is 18,500 m², which I think it’s groundbreaking and I think it will come in to the agenda of other companies as well, because that’s the way to think about the future.
Aren’t sustainable buildings expensive?
That’s also a myth, the truth is that it’s more about competence; you need to have competence in house and to know what you have to do. It’s expensive, but I think you will get that back by getting the right tenants in, the right quality buildings and also in the long term, the only thing that we can be sure about is that energy won’t be cheap, so for example I see a lot of investment funds now starting up green funds.
Do you sell the buildings or do you first lease them?
We usually lease our buildings fully out and then we divest them, because our core business is to find the right plot of land, develop the building, lease it out, and then divest it.
Today our portfolio is close to 200,000 m² and we start roughly 100,000 m² a year. We have invested roughly above €400 million in the region and we are going to invest another €100 million during the coming 12 months.
Will you stick to the same model, using your own money, or will you start looking for partners now that you have more experience?We will stick to using our money; that’s the way we have run the business and it gives us the freedom, the chance to be first in new trends, because for example if I had a partner in 2008 and I said I want to be sustainable in Central and Eastern Europe, I would have a hard time getting the cash.
Can you tell us a bit more about Skanska as a company?
The year 2012 marks Skanska’s 125th year in business. Today, Skanska is one of the world’s leading project development and construction groups with expertise in construction, development of commercial and residential projects and public-private partnerships. Based on its global green experience, Skanska aims to be the clients' first choice for green solutions. The Group currently has 57,000 employees in selected home markets in Europe, in the US and Latin America. Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden and listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange, Skanska's sales in 2011 totaled SEK 123 billion (approx. €14.3 billion).
Within Skanska I represent Skanska Commercial Development which initiates and develops green property projects for leasing and divestment. Throughout the development process, Skanska CD works closely with tenants as well as municipalities to create sustainable projects that are profitable to build, operate and maintain. The buildings place a premium on energy conservation and carbon reduction, targeting LEED Gold certification or higher. Skanska Commercial Development has so far financed and developed about 1.9 million m² of office space worldwide.