Atterbury Europe’s expansion into Romania is continuing apace and the experience of working closely with the local partner Iulius Group has been a rewarding learning for the Atterbury Europe team. Raoul de Villiers gives us a glimpse from the inside.
Romania was chosen very carefully as a country that has many development opportunities. From your perspective, working in the territory, why is Romania such a good place for Atterbury Europe to be active in?
We believe Romania is a country with vast potential. From a macroeconomic perspective it is one of the strongest and fastest growing countries in the EU, making it very attractive for developers such as ourselves. The most important aspect however is the people: Romanians are warm, highly skilled, hardworking individuals who are proud of their country and happy to develop it, making our partnerships strong from the ground up. On a more informal note, aside from the obvious business case, Romania is also one of the most beautiful countries in Europe with stunning landscapes and interesting towns, so our numerous trips there are well worth it from a travel perspective too.
The choice of the local partner was also done with great circumspection – you were looking for the “Atterbury of Romania” we believe. What was it about the Iulius Group that cemented the deal for you?
Their corporate culture and the people. Although our companies are continents apart, we share the same DNA in the form of leadership style, entrepreneurship and work ethic among employees. We all share the passion of wanting to be the best at what we do and having fun while doing it.
Having worked closely with the Iulius Group for a year, what has been your experience with regards to the collaboration?
As with any relationship we’ve had to get to know each other on a company and individual basis. The day-to-day running of the businesses is done by various individuals who have forged their own relationships to ultimately achieve the common goal – to add value to the business from both sides. Both teams have been able to synergise well to add value on the existing portfolio as well as the development pipeline.
Are there other JVs/partnerships such as the Atterbury Europe/Iulius Group in Romania that are competing with you for business at present, or is this partnership uniquely placed for what you are working towards in Europe?
There are many competitors in Romania as in any other market presenting opportunities; that’s just the nature of business. That being said, the partnership between Iulius and Atterbury is on a different level in the sense that we are two very strong leaders in our respective fields; and that results in a market-leading collaboration.
How far do you hope to see Atterbury Europe’s Romania footprint reaching in the next five years?
Not even the sky is the limit as we plan a couple of skyscrapers… Realistically, if the current market conditions prevail – which is never guaranteed anywhere in the world today – the Atterbury and Iulius collaboration should be a dominant force in the prime retail and office section of the market in Romania and will continue to be for years to come.
OPENVILLE TIMISOARA – A PARTNERSHIP IN NUMBERS
First phase due to open Q4 of 2018:
€220 million – the total investment, making it the largest private capital investment in real estate in the west of Romania
55 000 sqm – the size of the park that forms part of the complex.
50 000 sqm – the area covered by the 3 office buildings in operation
47 000 sqm – the area of additional retail space
1 500 – the number of new parking bays across two parking facilities
450 – the number of stores, restaurants and themed cafés
27 – the number of floors in the new office building which is pending, making it the tallest office building in Romania