Colliers International advised on the sale of Liberty Technology Park office complex, owned by Fribourg Development in Cluj-Napoca, one of Romania’s most important regional real estate hubs. Colliers International also acted as advisor in obtaining financing for the acquisition, where the buyer was White Star Real Estate and its joint venture partner, the endowment fund of a top private university in the USA.
The partnership between a real estate player and an educational institution is common practice in other Western countries, but the acquisition of the offices in Cluj represents a unique transaction for the Romanian market, as it brings a change in the pattern of present investors, laying out a pioneering investment case.
“To see an investor backed up by the endowment fund of an educational institution in acquiring a flourishing office project like Liberty Technology Park is far from the typical Romanian investment scenario. Many real estate players expect big transactions to happen on the Romanian market, but, in this case, the value this investment deal holds goes beyond cash and liquidity. Given the nature of the equity partner and the usual risk profile such investor takes into consideration, it will go on having a significant impact on the investment market. We see this as a true disruption in the Romanian real estate, strong enough to reinforce hope about the many opportunities that the future holds for both Cluj-Napoca and the whole country”, Anca Merdescu (Svoronos), Senior Associate Investment & Debt Advisory at Colliers International Romania, said.
Liberty represents 18,000 sqm of former industrial buildings, redeveloped over the last six years by Fribourg into a modern, industrial feel office park. The technology park comprises five Class A office buildings, BREEAM certified with innovative, eco-friendly and energy efficient technologies, with an additional 3 hectares of land for further development.
Located in the northern part of the city, Liberty Technology Park enjoys the presence of internationally renowned IT&C and R&D tenants, such as Siemens, IBM, Arvato and Altran. In addition, the Spherik Accelerator was launched here, which strives to improve the local start-up community and help it grow faster internationally.
Ion Sturza, Chairman and founder of Fribourg Capital, added: “In the past few years, we worked hard to create a unique IT ecosystem, which is now the perfect location for corporates, small and medium companies and start-ups alike. Liberty not only helped shaping the vibrant tech industry in the city of Cluj but also marks the start of gentrification in this industrial neighbourhood. We are proud to conclude a deal with White Star Real Estate that shares our vision for the region’s future, and we will continue to support them in the further development of Liberty Technology Park.”
The buyer, White Star Real Estate, is a regional real estate developer and asset and property manager with offices across the CEE in Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, Bucharest and Moscow. The company has built over 50 projects since 1997, including landmark office buildings, warehouses, logistics parks and other industrial projects, retail, mixed-use concepts and residential developments, and currently manages over 2.4 million sqm of commercial properties for their clients. White Star has been present in Romania since 2006, its most prominent project being Lakeview, a 25,000 sqm class A office building.
The sale of Liberty Technology Park marks Colliers International’s second office investment deal in Cluj-Napoca. The company also advised on the sale of Maestro Business Center office building last year, making Colliers International the first international agency to advise an office transaction in a regional city of Romania. The acquisition was made by First Property Group, a UK investment fund, and it also changed the investment scene in a city then dominated by local capital.
“We’ve been preparing to see additional office transactions concluded in Cluj-Napoca, as the city enjoys favourable economic and demographic trends, a rising office demand, attractive rental growth prospects, attractive yields, very good quality products and a reputation as the Silicon Valley of Romania: 70,000 students, the IT start-ups and international companies build a talent infrastructure in Cluj-Napoca that helps innovation and incubation of new businesses. Combined with the fact that the office stock becomes increasingly competitive here, we’re confident about the development of a very healthy and mature investment market in Cluj”, Anca Merdescu (Svoronos) concluded.