Warsaw leads Central and East European markets
As international capital continues to target safe havens in Europe, Warsaw is getting its share of attention. According to Jones Lang LaSalle’s 2012 Global Real Estate Transparency Index, Poland has transparency levels comparable to Western Europe and is increasingly viewed by investors as a “core” market. Poland also has a favourable macroeconomic outlook with GDP growth in 2013 forecast at 2.3 per cent compared to 0.2 per cent for the eurozone (source: Consensus Forecasts September 2012).
Additional drivers for investment are Warsaw’s large population, low retail penetration coupled with retail sales significantly higher than in the remainder of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) – Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia – and the European Union, low office space density and growing attractiveness as a business process outsourcing centre.
In the first three quarters of 2012, Poland saw one billion euros invested in commercial real estate, representing just under 60 per cent of transaction volumes in the CEE region. Although investment is down year on year, this is a reflection of fewer investment opportunities rather than a change in investor sentiment. Indeed, when good quality assets are brought to market, there is significant international interest, as evidenced by a number of large transactions currently under offer.
One such example is the Warsaw Financial Centre, which will be taken over by a consortium of Allianz (87.5 per cent) and Curzon Capital Partners III for a sale price of around 210 million euros; the vendors are CA Immo and Pramerica Real Estate Investors. Allianz has also agreed to buy five office buildings in Platinum Business Park from GTC for about 173 million euros.
While most of the cross-border activity to date has been by European investors, Warsaw has been gaining appeal further afield. Most notable is Qatar Holdings’ forward purchase of the Polish Telecom Headquarters at the end of 2011.
Warsaw looks set to maintain its leading position in the CEE region in terms of real estate volumes transacted. Recent activity demonstrates continued investor demand and liquidity, not only for core products but also for assets requiring more intense asset management, as in the case of Twarda Tower which was acquired by Europa Capital in the third quarter of the year.