Realia Group purchase of Ober-Haus creates Central Europes largest property agency (FI)

Realia Group Oy of Finland, the owner of the dominant Finnish real estate brands Huoneistokeskus, SKV, and Huoneistomarkkinointi, has purchased Ober-Haus Real Estate Advisors to create the largest property agency in Central and Eastern Europe.

The newly enlarged real estate services group now employs nearly 2,000 people in Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, making it the largest real estate brokerage firm in Central and Eastern Europe. The estimated turnover of Realia Group for year 2007 is €140 million.

Paul Oberschneider will now focus on real estate development. Mr. Oberschneider's development company, Häuser-Oberschneider, continues to build retail centers in Estonia, and is planning new residential developments in the Baltic States. Häuser-Oberschneider will start building a new retail center in Pärnu with Vilniaus Prekyba. It also owns and manages four retail centers in Tallinn: Norde Centrum in the city center, Mustakivi's two shopping centers with Rimi and Prisma, and Tammsaare Selver and owns additional land for another center in Tallinn for future development or a larger DIY to be started in 2008.

In the last 12 months, Häuser-Oberschneider, along with its partner Citigroup Property Investors, purchased 18 hectares of land in Vilnius on which they are planning construction of 2,000 new apartments.

"The timing of the agency sale is reflective of our individual personal interests and my desire to focus on development," says Oberschneider. "We have built a great company, and have great employee loyalty, and teaming up with Realia Group and their financial shareholders will help the business expand into other markets and grow. Realia Group can take it further than we could at this stage".

Top management of Ober-Haus will all stay and become shareholders of Realia Group, which aims to use its increased size to become the dominant real estate service provider throughout both Scandinavia and Central and Eastern Europe. Realia Group will continue to use the Ober-Haus brand throughout Central and Eastern Europe, with no changes.

"We see a great possibility for strong growth in those countries, which has over 100 million people," states Risto Kyhälä, Managing Director of Realia Group Oy. "The middle class segment becomes more prosperous and upgrades their living standards quickly. This creates more business opportunities for us."

The acquisition enables Realia Group to layer its deep property management experience over the large office network Ober-Haus has throughout Central Europe.

"There is a huge demand for Realia Group's know-how, especially in housing management but also in real estate management in general," says Peter Gage Morris, Managing Director of Ober-Haus.

Mr. Morris, Managing Director of Ober-Haus, joins the Executive Board of Realia Group, with responsibility for the group's international business.

Ober-Haus was founded in 1994 by Paul Oberschneider in Tallinn Estonia with three employees, and has grown organically to become on of the leading real estate service companies with 35 offices and over 350 brokers covering the five counties of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine. The company is managed by Mr. Morris from Warsaw.

Since 1993 Oberschneider has built a number of businesses in the Baltics and Poland, being one of the first property entrepreneurs to bring in foreign capital at a time when the markets were relatively unknown. Oberschneider raised capital from Apollo Real Estate, Citibank, Grainger Plc, the EBRD, IMF and a host of private equity funds and individuals. Oberschneider started and built the Schlössle Hotel Group, creating the first five star hotel in Tallinn the Schlössle Hotel, and its sister hotels The Grand Palace in Riga and the St. Petersburg Hotel. The chain was sold to a Spanish hotel group last year.

Two years ago Oberschneider and a group of investors purchased the Marlekor Factory site and Oberschneider was also responsible for creating a number of restaurants in Tallinn, including Kuldne Notsu and s

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