The EBRD is supporting the development of FYR Macedonia’s retail infrastructure with a €18.9 million loan to Balfin Finance B.V., to finance the construction of the first modern, energy efficient shopping centre in the country’s capital Skopje.
This is the Bank’s first investment in the emerging Macedonian property and retail sector which is looking to compete with other countries in the region in terms of modern shopping space.
The project developer, Balfin MK d.o.o. is a joint venture company with an equal shareholding between Fashion Group, the largest retail group in the country and Balfin, a leading regional retail and real estate development company. Balfin, who is based in Albania operates several shopping centres and is also the dominant owner of the leading Macedonian electrical retailer Euro Media.
The proceeds of the EBRD loan will be used to co-finance the development, construction and operation of the Skopje City Mall. Located three kilometres west of Skopje city centre with convenient transport links, Skopje City Mall will be the first of its kind in the Macedonian capital and in the country.
The shopping centre will be built using advanced energy efficiency technologies, including improved levels of thermal insulation, energy-saving lighting, high efficiency heat recovery and an integrated building management system. These advanced technologies will enable the retail centre to cut its carbon footprint by 27 per cent compared with current construction standards in FYR Macedonia.
With a total area of 86,000 square metres, Skopje City Mall will comprise 150 shop units on three levels anchored by a 4,600 square metre hypermarket and a multi-storey and underground car park with 1,300 spaces. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.
With a number of world-renowned retailers having already taken space in the new mall, the project will attract new brands to FYR Macedonia, considerably improving the shopping experience in Skopje and the surrounding region.
“We are pleased to support Balfin MK d.o.o. in developing this important project for Skopje at a time when commercial debt financing remains very limited. The new shopping mall will address the significant unfulfilled demand for modern retail space in the Macedonian capital, while bringing higher energy efficiency standards,” said Claudio Viezzoli, EBRD Director for Western Balkans.
“Balfin MK is delighted and honoured that financial support has been secured from the EBRD together with Raiffeisen Bank and Komercijalna Banka. The Bank’s confidence in committing substantial finance confirms the unique opportunity that Skopje City Mall presents in a dramatically undersupplied market. The new state-of-the-art €70 million shopping mall will become a symbol of prosperity and a new landmark which will forge the way for future internal and overseas investment and promote confidence in the economic future and prosperity of the newly emerging Macedonia,” said Peter Warden CEO of Balfin MK.
To date the EBRD has invested over €715 million in the Macedonian economy through projects in the corporate, financial, infrastructure and energy sectors. The EBRD funds have attracted additional investments worth €700 million from other sources.