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Serbian market has a great potential in almost all areas of construction, meaning that the investors should take the advantage of it as soon as possible. Foreign investors still do not consider Serbia as a separate market but as part of the regional market, in which Serbia has a leading role, concluded the panel discussion that was held on the first day (November 5, 2009.) of the 4th BelRE Belgrade Real Estate and Investment Fair in Belgrade.
Questions regarding the opportunities and challenges of investing in Serbia, in the region, whether this is the right time for investments in real estate in Serbia and many others were posed. Answers to these issues were offered to the audience by Robert Schweizer, representative of "Balkans RE and Vice President for Investments for the region of Central Europe in one of the largest investment funds, "Merrill Lynch", Mr.Jovan Jovanovic, director of the financial group "Danon-BNP Paribas, Mr. Goran Gojakovic, director of investments "BOMEX Holding" and by Mr. Jovica Jakovac, director of Colliers International.
- First I have to say that foreign investors perceive Serbia as a part of the region, not as a separate market. Further on, they examine Serbia from multiple perspectives- economic growth among many attracts the investors, and calls for the context of investments, then from the perspective of the political situation and ofcourse the banking sector. And these are the sectors which we choose whether to invest in or not - said Robert Schweizer.
He noted that it is obvious that the Serbian economy has been dependent on foreign credits in the last five years, that GDP is negative and there is no indication that it will get any better in 2010. All these are indicators that represent a significant risk for investors.
However, the good news, in his opinion, is that the banking sector is highly ligit, supported by Greek, Italian and Austrian banks.
- Serbia obviously needs financial resources, logistics and surprisingly more "A" Class office space. Of course it is impossible to do this all at once. The rental terms and prices have stabilized a bit and hopefully will remain so - he mentions.
- I think that Belgrade presently does not need another shopping center. In the future there will be need for shopping malls, however not only in Belgrade, but Novi Sad and Nis. In terms of logistics, I think Serbia has the potential and a bright future, somewhat like Romania several years ago - says the vice president of investments for the region of Central Europe in one of the largest investment funds "Merrill Lynch".
Schweizer believes that it is particularly interesting to invest in the hotel business in Serbia.
- I haven’t heard about so much interest in the hotels as I have heard in the last 6 months. A huge amount of Greek money could be invested in this sector. For example, a project of rearranging hotel "Yugoslavia", and Delta's Continental would be able to attract enough capital.
- Serbia is probably one of the most interesting markets in Europe. The money will come from Israel, Greece, and perhaps more of Austrian investors. Large investments from Western European countries may have swung Serbia, but a lot of money should flow into Serbia from the neighboring countries for various historical reasons - concluded Schweizer.