CEE Summit 2017 in Warsaw: Investing in New Europe
For two days in June, global investors and CEE market leaders from the real estate sector got together to discuss ‘New Europe’ and its impact on cities, sectors, development and capital markets. The conference kicked off with keynote speaker Professor Witold Orlowski, Chief Economic Advisor at PwC, who stated that CEE had regained its strength and was now able to take its rightful place at the heart of the European economy. He said, “We are going back to normality after the sharp deterioration under communism and then the upheaval of the financial crisis. Eighty years ago this region was an integral part of the European economy, and now it is regaining its rightful position.”
As part of a panel looking into the next big drivers for city investment, Michał Mieciński, Counsel at Linklaters, said, “What we are increasingly seeing, apart from traditional investments – offices, retail, logistics – is alternative investments, like student housing, REITS, coworking spaces, hotels and hospitality. In sourcing capital, we are increasingly seeing new investors in the market from Asia and South Africa.” Additionally, he suggested that Warsaw, Tricity, Wrocław, Prague, Bucharest and Budapest offer the best investment prospects for investors. After the first day of proceedings had drawn to a close, attendents were treated to a cocktail reception at the historic Szucha palace, kindly sponsored by Szucha Premium Offices, a CEE Summit partner.
The second day was opened by Maurits Cammeraat, Director of Professional Standards,
INREV, who gave a keynote speech on what investors need to know about non-listed real estate funds, and Richard Divall, Head of Cross Border Capital Markets EMEA at Colliers International, who spoke about Global Capital Sources. Afterwards, Divall joined a panel discussing which sectors and locations offered the best returns in CEE. He said that infrastructure is one of the key factors governing decisions about where to invest, citing London’s Crossrail as an example of an infrastructure initiative influencing investors’ investment choices. Asian capital, he went on to say, is looking to diversify from the UK into continental Europe, and there could be some benefits for CEE from this.
Commenting on whether there is too much in the Warsaw office pipeline, Robert Sztemberg, head of German lender Berlin Hyp’s Warsaw office, said that the supply issue should be seen in context. “I’ve always seen the Warsaw office market as positive, and I still do. It is still a small market of just over five million metres squared in a country with a population of 40m. Compare that to Hamburg, which has a similar – perhaps even smaller – population, yet three times the office stock.” Moreover, he noted, Poland is much more centralised around its capital than Germany. “Warsaw’s supply in the next three years doesn’t scare me,” he said.
Following a well-deserved coffee break, talk turned to whether or not the CEE could be a driving force for European logistics. According to Robert Dobrzycki, CEO Europe of Panattoni Europe, logistics is “the most attractive asset class going forward. Demand will stay strong.” He added that Poland had already shown it can embrace innovation – Panattoni’s 67,000 metres squared Amazon warehouse in Poznań, Dobrzycki said, is “the most efficient Amazon building in the world.” Tomasz Kasperowicz, partner and director Colliers International, said, “The Polish market has never been better in terms of attractiveness. It is doing extremely well, it has great potential and is attracting a lot of interest from investors. CEE does not have the volume or critical mass to be the driving force of European logistics yet, but we will get there eventually.”