by Property Forum | Investment

South African investment fund RMH plans to invest €200 million in the mixed-use real estate project planned around the Romexpo exhibition centre in Bucharest by Romanian businessman Iulian Dascalu and Atterbury Bucharest, the local subsidiary of South African investor Atterbury Europe (which is 37.5% owned by RMH). RMH will own a quarter of the project, according to

RMH will reportedly pay €150 million to buy 50% of Atterbury Bucharest and provide a €50 million loan for the project which would the see creation of the city’s largest business district with over 30,000 new jobs, museums and a multi-use event hall, a new park and green urban connections, a retail and lifestyle centre and 12,000 parking spaces.

The project has raised controversies because the land on which it would be developed belongs to the state. Iulian Dascalu wants to develop the Romexpo project on a 46 ha plot currently owned by the state and used under a 49-year agreement by Romexpo SA, controlled by an NGO. In the Parliament, two political parties (the PSD and the PNL) voted for granting the Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIR) the right to use the land free of charge to benefit the local companies and economy. This prompted protests from other large real estate developers in Romania, including South African group NEPI Rockcastle. NEPI said that the Romanian state shouldn't give the land for free to a private entity and suggested a public auction instead.

RMH's main shareholders are the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), with a 13.2% stake, Royal Bafokeng Holdings, with 12.5% and the group's three founders, with 9.3%. PIC is also a major shareholder in NEPI Rockcastle and manages GEPF, the largest pension fund in Africa. In turn, GEPF owns over 8% of MAS REI (another real estate investor active in the SEE region) and is also a shareholder in Growthpoint, which owns 29.5% of Globalworth.