A wave of consolidation sweeps Poland’s real estate market

A number of real estate development companies in Poland have changed hands in recent years, in a trend that speaks to the attractiveness of Poland’s property sector for both foreign and domestic investment.

The real estate development market in Poland is still largely fragmented, with most property developers limiting their activity to just one big city and the surrounding area. Many such companies are success stories of local entrepreneurs who struck gold with their real estate businesses in the 1990s and are now ready to cash in on decades of hard work.

These local developers are now increasingly attractive for larger entities – major domestic players or international capital looking to enter a new market. For foreign investors in particular, acquiring an established local brand means they can jump right into the mix rather than build their market share from scratch.

This tendency towards consolidation has been gathering pace in recent times and according to some experts, it’s likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

“The Polish real estate sector is clearly consolidating, the trend being that the bigger your company gets, the more business potential it has,” says Jarosław Jędrzyński, real estate specialist at RynekPierwotny.pl, Poland’s largest property portal.

“It’s becoming increasingly hard to grow in the Polish market in any other way than through takeovers of existing development companies,” Jędrzyński tells Emerging Europe.

A slew of acquisitions

December 2021 saw one of the biggest acquisitions in Poland’s housing market in recent memory when Goldman Sachs sold Robyg, one of the country’s largest real estate developers.

Soon to be finalised, the deal will net Goldman Sachs 2.5 billion złoty (around 521 million euros) and, as Jędrzyński points out, a profit of more than 100 per cent.

Robyg’s new owner is TAG Immobilien, a Hamburg-based real estate giant which has been actively seeking to expand its market portfolio in Poland. The company previously purchased Vantage Development, a property developer from Wrocław, and is now one of the biggest landholders in the country.

A few other Polish real estate companies have also changed ownership of late, including Budimex Nieruchomości, a prolific Warsaw developer which has built over 19,000 apartments in Poland since its inception in 1999.

Renamed to Spravia after its acquisition in May 2021, the company was bought jointly by Cornerstone Investment Management and Crestyl Group for 1.51 billion złoty (around 313 million euros) in what was one of the most expensive takeovers in the region since the Covid-19 pandemic had started.

Everyone wins

At a time when land banks around the world are shrinking rapidly, acquiring a local property developer with a winning portfolio is now seen as a savvy move for companies looking to quickly scale their presence in a new market.

“Acquisitions bring a number of benefits for investors, on top of their geographical expansion,” Jarosław Jędrzyński adds. “Taking over an existing real estate developer gives international companies access to an attractive land bank and offers them greater scope for growing their business.”

“Even more importantly, it saves them a lot of time and money on setting up and promoting their company in the new location as the brand they are taking over is already known and respected locally,” he explains.

Such transactions also come with the added bonus of getting plugged into the local know-how of the domestic property development sector, a fact which can prove invaluable as soon as foreign investors begin to navigate the murky waters of public administration in Poland.

With international PRS (Private Rented Sector) funds also taking an interest in the Polish housing market, the influx of foreign capital additionally bodes well in terms of the number and quality of apartments available for rent in Poland.

“All told, the consolidation of the Polish real estate development sector is highly beneficial for most. More than anything, it shows that foreign investors hold our domestic market in very high esteem,” Jędrzyński concludes.

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