Raiffeisen Zentralbank wants to buy the company that owns Mall Varna

11 Oct

Raiffeisen Zentralbank Oesterreich (RZB) wants to buy out Miller Mall Varna, the company that owns Mall Varna in Bulgaria’s major Black Sea city.

This was disclosed by the Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC).

RZB is the owner of Raiffeisenbank Bulgaria, which owns Raiffeisen Real Estate.

Mall Varna was acquired by Miller Developments in November 2008 after negotiations that dragged on for more than a year. The UK company paid 120 million euro for the mall to its former owner Interservice Uzunovi, the Bulgarian home appliance and consumer electronics retailer, which developed the project.

The mall opened in summer 2008, on the eve of the global economic downturn.

The sale was described as one of Millerís biggest investments in Eastern Europe.

The design and construction of the shopping centre cost between 50 and 54 million euro, with Raiffeisenbank providing a loan to cover part of this.

Approached for comment, Raiffeisenbank Bulgaria chief executive Momchil Andreev said that the inquiry should be referred to RZB.

Mall Varna marketing head Desislava Kovacheva told Dnevnik that no financial transaction has been concluded with Raiffeisen and declined to reveal further information.

It was to be expected that Mall Varna should be generating interest because it was no secret that all malls in Bulgaria were up for sale at the moment, Kovacheva said.

Although the economic storm is still raging on, Bulgaria was the EU country with the most newly-opened shopping malls in the first half of 2010, a report by Cushman & Wakefield said.

The number of operational malls has increased by 90 per cent year-on-year, with about 200 000 sq m of space being added between January and June. The industry says there are about 30 shopping malls open in Bulgaria, together covering 452 000 sq m. About 15 projects have been put on ice.

Photo of Mall Varna still under construction