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GE Capital, Crestyl make $138 mln Czech buy

A partnership that includes GE Capital Real Estate has acquired three residential portfolios in the Czech Republic from ICKM Real Estate for a price estimated at $138 million.

GE is teaming with Czech developer Crestyl, which separately is buying ICKM, a builder of multifamily and other residential projects that has been active in its homeland since 1996. “This is an excellent opportunity to broaden our exposure to the Czech residential market,” says Karim Habra, managing director for GE Real Estate Central & Eastern Europe, the division of Stamford, CT-based GE Capital orchestrating the Czech deal.

GE Capital already has more than $1.4 billion invested in Central and Eastern Europe CRE, notes Habra, including a diverse Czech Republic portfolio encompassing industrial, office, residential and retail. The link with Crestyl makes GE's position there even stronger, says Habra, whose group is also chasing CRE opportunities in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. GE made its first real estate investment in Turkey last year, another market where it plans to pursue future initiatives, says Habra.

The Czech joint venture, operating in conjunction with Cheyne Capital, is securing three ICKM construction projects under way that will generate more than 1,000 units. The pact also gives the group development rights for eight projects split between Prague and Central Bohemia that account for another 1,500 units. Ultimately, the joint venture expects to have a total residential portfolio in the country and neighboring Slovakia exceeding $690 million. GE has participated in another joint venture since 2004 that is developing 1,200 residential units in the Czech Republic, while Crestyl has 400 units of its own presently under way.

Headquartered in Prague, Crestyl has built a range of product types in the country, including shopping centers, office buildings and residential. Existing and future development value for Crestyl is estimated at $700 million, says managing director Giovani Lainati, who adds that the purchase of ICKM will help to diversify the portfolio thanks to the company's vast residential experience. “The ICKM platform is strongly positioned to become a leader in providing both quality and value to the discerning residential buyer, a market that we expect will grow rapidly in the future,” says Lainati. In the transfer of ICKM's Czech portfolio and development pipeline, the joint venture was represented by lawyers from the global real estate group at Salans. A legal team from Lovells acted on behalf of the seller. (