Copos to spend EUR 200 million on offices, flats and apart-hotels

Newsroom 14/09/2007 | 16:53

Ana Group will develop real estate projects worth some EUR 200 million by 2011, George Copos, president of the group, told Business Review. The investments will be carried out by Ana Holding and Ana Hotels and will cover the office, residential and hotels segment, reaching a total of 180,000 built sqm.
The biggest project planned by the group is a 98,000-sqm residential compound in the north of Bucharest called Belvedere. The company will invest around EUR 100 million in developing approximately 500 luxury apartments, Copos told BR. Of the investment figure, around ten percent should go on the infrastructure of the project, which is the part currently delaying works. “We are trying to find the best solution for the infrastructure, as I believe the general council or the District 1 local council should also get involved,” said Copos.
Ana Offices, a 5,000-sqm office building worth some EUR 5 million, is the first of these projects. The three-storey building, which will headquarter all the Ana group companies, as well as local retailer Altex on the two top floors, will be delivered this April. It is located in the north of Bucharest close to the five-star Crowne Plaza Hotel, also owned by the group. Ana Holding will invest some EUR 50 million in a 27-floor building near the same hotel. To be called Ana Tower, it will contain some 64,000 sqm of class A office space. The company is currently working to get the required permits for the project.

EUR 50 million apart-hotels on the pipeline
Copos is also planning to build two apart-hotels totaling 100 apartments, an investment reaching some EUR 50 million. The two new hotels will be located close to the two existing hotel properties in Bucharest, the Hilton and Crowne Plaza. “The apart-hotels will be operated under the two hotels' brands,” said Copos. The apart-hotel close to the Hilton will feature 35 apartments on some 150 sqm each, while the apart-hotel in the north will have double the capacity of the first. Building the new hotels close to the existing hotel facilities has several advantages, says Copos, including shared housekeeping and food and beverage services.
Copos will present the Hilton Apart Hotel proposal this week to the Bucharest General Council. The Romanian state controls 35 percent of Athenee Phenix Group, the company which owns the Hilton Hotel. Ana Hotels is the company's main shareholder.
The EUR 50 million will also cover an investment in increasing the number of rooms in Crowne Plaza and adding an extra conference room to the hotel. The group will also complete renovation works on Athenee Palace Hilton this year and start renovating Sportul hotel in Poiana Brasov.
Although he has stated interest in acquiring hotel assets as well as developing apart-hotels, Copos said he was not interested in acquiring the hotel assets on the Romanian coast that Tourism Hotel Restaurant (THR) Marea Neagra announced it would sell. “We will focus on our Bucharest locations because the investments here are the most profitable. They are more profitable than those in the mountain area where we have invested a lot. However, our investments were not backed up by investments in tourism infrastructure, which the local community should have done,” Copos told BR.
Athenee Phenix Group is currently involved in litigation with the
Administrative Regia of State Patrimony and Protocol (RAPPS) over the Hotel Triumf tender, which took place recently. Three companies took part in the bid, but Athenee Phenix Group was ruled out of the competition because its bank guarantee letter was not compliant with the bidding rules, according to RAPPS.
“The bank, which was BRD, has already submitted a document to show it was responsible for sending a guarantee letter dated after the moment it was submitted,” said Copos. The bid for Triumf hotel was suspended after Athenee Phenix Group was excluded because the minimum number of bidders was three. The other two bidders were Roses Residential Park, which has been connected to businessman Ion Tiriac, and BEA Hotels Eastern Europe Romania, associated with Israeli Elscint, owner of Bucuresti Hotel.
For the moment, the Ana Group president is not planning to build other hotels aisde from the announced apart-hotels, but said that if he were to do so, he would choose Sibiu as the location of a hotel. “However, I believe it is already too late to invest in a Sibiu hotel. Those who have invested there made a good choice,” said Copos. As for Bucharest, he thinks that luxury hotels suit downtown locations, while areas like Gara de Nord and Henri Coanda Airport require three- and four-star facilities. “We have invested in luxury hotels because we had locations which needed them,” says Copos.
Ana Group owns various plots in Bucharest, in mountain areas and on the coast. “We have 40,000 sqm of land in the mountains, some 50,000 sqm at the seaside and some 100,000 sqm in the north of Bucharest where Crowne Plaza is located,” says Copos. “We will use all of these plots.”
The group bought the land between seven and ten years ago and most of it will be used for the real estate projects announced. “We already have projects for the plots at the seaside, but we will leave them on standby until we see what happens in Romania in terms of tourism after the country opens it borders to the EU,” said the Ana group president.
In two years, the company will decide what new projects to build on the coast. The mountain projects will need to wait until 2011 when the Bucharest-Brasov Highway is finished or until the Brasov airport is built, added Copos.
In addition to real estate investments, Ana group is preparing investments through all of its companies, including Ana IMEP, Ana Trans International, Ana Teleferic, Ana Yacht Club, Ana Pan and football club FC Rapid. The exact sum to be spent will be decided and approved at the general shareholders meeting in April.
In 2006, Ana Hotels posted a EUR 16.9 million turnover, an increase on the EUR 15.3 million reached in 2005. Athenee Phenix Group reached some EUR 18.6 million in turnover, compared to EUR 18.1 million in 2005.

Corina Saceanu

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