Friday, September 7, 2007

Europe's largest shopping mall developer Plaza Centers will pump in Rs 5,000 crore in India

The LSE listed Plaze Centers, a subsidiary of Israeli company Elbit Medical Imaging, will set up 50 shopping malls in next 5-7 years.

"We are in talks with all the International retailers. It's a matter of time before they come to India. We are already working with many in Europe and we will seek to extend that relationship in India," said Eli Mazor, MD, Plaza Centers.

Plaza Centers, whose international tenants include Carrefour, Tesco and H&M, is keen now to tap a market fueled by the rising ranks of the middle class--now estimated at 300 million.

Plaza knows if it has to succeed in a market like India, it has to rope in local partners to overcome hurdles on the ground. The Dutch mall builder has already tied up with real estate developer Panchshil, (Pune) and is talking to many more for partnerships.

The first such center is expected to open by the end of 2008 or early 2009. The Amsterdam-registered company has already begun land development at Koregaon Park in Pune. It plans to start projects in the southern cities of Bangalore, Madras, Trivandrum and Cochin.

"We understand that we need to have partners and are mainly tying up with all the top real estate players. We will also engage with retailers who may be interested in developing retail real estate," said Abraham (Rami) Goren, Executive Vice Chairman, Elbit Imaging.

International real estate developers like Plaza Centers are now betting big on the Indian retail space, preferring it even over China. However, much will depend on how well they can execute their plans given real estate is the single biggest challenge that the Indian retail faces at present.

India’s real estate market is likely to rise in value to $90 billion by 2015 from $12 billion in 2005, according to Moody’s Investors Services. Land prices in the key cities have skyrocketed over the last few years.

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