Unitech comes up with Gardens Galleria in Noida.

Unitech, one of the India’s leading integrated developers of large-scale real estate projects, has launched Gardens Galleria in Noida. It is part of Unitech’s existing 147 acres entertainment-cum-retail destination in Noida.
Gardens Galleria, designed by US-based firm Callihon, is spread over 8.36 acres, is strategically positioned adjacent to sector -18, Noida and Film City. It is minutes away from ITO, East Delhi, South Delhi, and Noida Expressway. The project is in the midst of established residential areas, offices, colleges and other commercial towers.

The destination already comprises of an international standard themed amusement park Worlds of Wonder and The Great India Place, a shopping mall. The mall, a combination of entertainment, retail and hospitality, in Noida will comprise of hyper market, departmental stores, international shops, spa, gymnasium, banks, ATMs, food and fun joints. The project comprises 230 retail outlets and there is also parking facility for 8,500 cars. Unitech has already got over 10 lakh patrons a month in its three operational malls the Metro Walk in New Delhi, Great India Place in Noida and Gurgaon Central.

Commenting on the launch, Munish Baldev, head-retail of Unitech said, “We are happy to launch Gardens Galleria in Noida. Unitech has already developed 1.3 million sq ft of mall area in New Delhi, Noida and Gurgaon since 2006, and is developing another 4 million sq ft of retail space in cities such as Kochi, Gurgaon, Bangalore, Lucknow, Mohali, Bhopal, Bhub­aneswar, and Dehradun. We have always been bullish about the retail development space and have been developing the shopping malls as per our business plan. We have been getting strong traction from retailers for leasing of the mall-space under development.”

Genesis Luxury, Genesis Lifest­yle, French Connection, Nautica, Louis Philippe, Van Heusen, Calvin Klein are among some of the major brands who have their stores in Galleria. The company is also developing another 4 million sq ft of retail space in cities such as Kochi, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Bangalore, Dehradun, Mohali, Lucknow, and Gurgaon in the next 4-5 years.

Bangalore is just about office… office.

While demand for residential space was mostly sluggish in 2011, demand for office and retail space remained healthy in Bangalore.

The market for commercial space is estimated at 50 mil sq. ft. across the country. The average yearly absorption rates in Bangalore and NCR are about nine mil sq. ft. While six mil sq. ft. is absorbed in Mumbai, the rates are 4 to 5 mil sq. ft. each in Chennai and Hyderabad.

However, last year, Bangalore topped the list with the highest absorption of more than 13 mil sq. ft. of non-captive office space, about 2 mil sq. ft. more than the levels seen in 2010. About 80% of this came from the IT & ITES sector.

“Consolidation of real estate portfolios by Indian and MNC IT companies has boosted the real estate market in Bangalore,” said Karun Varma, MD (Bangalore and Kochi), and Jones Lang LaSalle India. “Demand for back offices and contact centres has resulted in continued strong growth in suburban real estate development, with IT companies lining up their investments for setting up new facilities in the city,” he added.

Experts predict demand for 16 mil sq. ft. of office space in 2012 in India’s Silicon Valley, which will be the highest ever in the country. This will be mostly due to the new SEZ norms and direct tax code (DTC) that will come into play.

About 75% of the 16 mil sq. ft. office space will be in upcoming SEZ regions. Recently, global investment banking firm Goldman Sachs took up 1 mil sq. ft. of office space developed by Kalyani Developers on the outer ring road. “Companies see an opportunity from a tax break perspective; so, many are planning to migrate their future work to SEZ parks,” said Shrinivas Rao, CEO (Asia Pacific), Vestian Global Workplace Services.

In the next three years, an additional 28.8 mil sq. ft. of office space will be available in the region, for which projects are already under way. “We are expecting to see about 6 to 7 mil sq. ft. of this to come up in 2012,” said Rao.

Mirah to Grow Realty Business, Double Presence in Food and Beverages

Mirah Group, a diversified business group with interests in food and beverage (F&B), hospitality, travel and international trading, is scaling up its real estate business and consolidating it under a single entity, said a top executive. The group, which runs popular restaurant chains and food stores including Rajdhani, Mad over Donuts and Manchester United Cafe and Bar, has completed around 10 real estate projects in the past decade. But it is only now that the group is organizing and branding the business under a new entity, Edifice Properties.

“We are looking to develop large mixed-development townships in Mumbai and Pune,” said Gaurav Goenka, managing director, Mirah Group. The first project is a 300-acre township in Nagpur, which has received funding in the form of foreign direct investment from a subsidiary of Bank of Scotland. The second will be a township in Pune, and the third, of 200-300 acres in Thane, is in the land acquisition stage.

In the F&B space, Mirah Group, known for expanding through acquisitions, is in talks to buy stakes in both domestic and international brands. “International brands are coming in by the dozen and we will look at picking up stakes in brands that are scalable and have a USP (unique selling proposition),” said Goenka.

The firm intends to invest around Rs.200 crore in this space in two-three years. It will expand Rajdhani, its flagship brand, from 35 outlets to 50 in a year and Mad Over Donuts to 100 from the current 35. Cafe Mangii, which is present only in Mumbai, will travel to Bangalore and Delhi and expand from five to 15 restaurants.

Mirah also runs a chain of hotels under the brand name, Citrus. From the current lot of seven hotels, it plans to open another seven that it will itself build, own and operate. Besides running its own F&B outlets, last year, Mirah Hospitality, a part of Mirah Group, invested Rs.40 crore and acquired a 26% stake in Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality Pvt. Ltd, which runs cafes and fine dining restaurants such as Mocha and Smoke House Deli.

Saloni Nangia, senior vice-president at retail consultancy Technopak Advisors Pvt. Ltd, said that with the fast pace of growth in the number of people across socio-economic strata eating out and ordering in, the F&B space in India will only grow from where it is today. “While a lot of modern retail will move online, F&B, still being an experience-related business, will continue to grow,” she said.

Retail consultants said the F&B sector will continue to draw the attention of investors such as private equity and venture capital funds. Jacob Kurian, a partner at Asia-focused private equity fund New Silk Route, said the fund is exploring opportunities in the sector. New Silk Route is in talks to buy a stake in Adiga’s, a south Indian restaurant chain.

 

Dhanlaxmi Bank says will cut costs, not shutting branches.

Indian private lender Dhanlaxmi Bank said it does not plan to shut down branches or shrink operations, but has initiated steps, including salary cuts, to control costs as it grapples with pressured margins.

“We have no plans to shut down any of our branches. We want to grow,” PG Jayakumar, the bank’s chief executive, told reporters.

The small-sized bank also plans to surrender excess real estate in metros and major cities.

Last week, the Economic Times newspaper reported that the bank plans to shut 30 branches in major cities as part of a revival plan.

The bank swung to a net loss of about 370 million rupees ($7.2 million) in the December quarter as costs soared and revenues shrank.

Consumers and businesses have rushed to park their money in long-term deposits, burdening banks with high costs, while lenders have been struggling to grow their loan books to boost profits.

“Strain on profits in one or two quarters is not going to affect us badly,” Dhanlaxmi said in a statement on Monday.

It plans to focus on loans against gold, small and medium enterprises and retail businesses for growth and expects a net interest margin of 2.5-3 per cent in the current financial year that ends in March.

The bank said it plans to raise 2 billion rupees each of tier 2 and tier 1 capital in the fiscal first and second quarter, respectively.

Shares of the bank, which has a market capitalisation of $126.3 million, ended down nearly 2 per cent in a weak Mumbai market on Monday.

Piramal Realty Acquires Gulita For 452 Cr From HUL.

Piramal Realty has acquired Gulita – property in south Mumbai from Hindustan Unilever for R452Cr. Piramal Realty is planning to develop high-end luxury apartments on the one-acre land and Ajay Piramal might keep a part of it for his personal use, given the premium location, according to ET.

Gulita is a one-acre property in Worli Seaface, which used to house a training centre and private residences of senior executives of Unilever’s Indian arm.

Gulita was built in 1968 and the land was taken on a perpetual lease from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation–the Mumbai civic authority. The property was put on the block after the company set up a new campus in the suburbs of Andheri and shifted its training facilities there.

Since HUL put the building on block, it has attracted several buyers which included Anil Ambani, Gautam Adani, Oberoi Realty and Sahara.

Last year, Piramal Realty acquired a plot of land in Mumbai from Mafatlal Industries Ltd for about R760Cr. Khushru Jijina – MD of piramal Realty said that the company plans to develop five residential projects in Mumbai at an estimated investment of about R1500Cr. The company will develop about 30 million sq. ft. through land acquisitions funded from its own sources.

Recently in real estate space, Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd sold 2 acre plot in Mumbai to Adani Enterprises for R900Cr to repay its debt. Ascendas Property Fund Trustee Private Limited, the Trustee-Manager of Ascendas India Trust (a-iTrust) has acquired two operating Buildings in Hitec City 2 Special Economic Zone in Hyderabad, India, from Phoenix Infocity Pvt Ltd for R176.5Cr; while IL&FS Investment Managers bought Logix Group’s four office buildings in Noida for R600Cr.

 

 

Cities to be taller as Plan panel seek Higher Floor Space Index.

The skyline of Indian cities could soar as the government considers permitting vertical growth with the aim of checking runaway realty prices and generating resources to upgrade urban infrastructure for future growth. A Planning Commission steering committee, in its draft report, has recommended providing additional FSI (floor space index; the ratio between built-up area and plot size) as development rights, but said it should not come free of cost.

The panel said the charges for additional FSI and land-use conversions should be at least 50% of the circle rate in the area and should be determined professionally. It added that additional FSI should be permitted selectively.

The commission’s steering group on urbanization said the revenue from grant of additional FSI should be “suitably ring-fenced for funding infrastructure projects to sustain higher FSI”. “The proposals, if accepted, would substantially increase availability of housing stock and moderate realty prices,” said an urban development ministry official.

Calling the present density regulations in Indian cities “archaic”, the report noted that Indian cities had the lowest FSI in the world. “This (densification) should be part of a balanced strategy for expanding the effective supply of prime land and, in the process, raising funds to finance urban infrastructure improvements,” the committee noted.

The Centre should introduce incentives that encourage states and cities to pursue densification strategies for future urban development, it said. Many cities were already levying such charges for additional FSI in some form or the other, it noted. Hyderabad, for instance, has a ‘city level impact fee for high rise buildings’ and Ahmedabad has systematically been selling a limited amount of additional FSI.

The committee said higher FSI should go hand in hand with provisions such as amalgamation of plots to make housing more affordable. Rather than the current practice of having a blanket FSI across a city, the panel wanted mixed land use promoted through the concept of granular FSI. “Densification with mixed land use as a planning strategy needs to be followed by the authorities to accommodate future urbanization needs,” said a ministry official.

Two Indian Real Estate Deals in Asian Top Ten list.

Two real estate deals in India — the sale of Leela Kempinski Kovalam and Noida’s deal with Wave Mega City Centre – have been ranked among the top ten in their categories across Asia according to a recently published study by Real Capital. Both deals took place in August 2011.

Real Capital tracks and analyses real estate deals worth over $10 million across apartments, hotels, retail, industrial, office and development projects over the world. The Purchase of Leela Kovalam by Saudi Arabia-based industrialist Ravi Pillai, which was pegged at about Rs 500 crore ranked 10th in Asia-list of largest hotel sellers.

Bangalore and Mumbai have been named among the most active Asian markets in the office space.

Delhi was ranked sixth and Mumbai eighth in the most active Asian apartment markets. Tokyo tops the list followed by Singapore, Hong Kong, Osaka and Beijing. While Chennai comes in at eighth position among active hotel markets, India did not rank in the big league when it comes to retail deals.

Realty PE Deal Volume in Q1 rises but Big Deals are missing.

Private equity deals are alive and kicking in Indian real estate space even though headline numbers do not reflect the same due to the absence of big ticket investments. The total number of PE deals during the first quarter of CY 2012 has hit a three-year high, according to VCCEdge, the financial research platform of VCCircle.

There were 12 deals worth $279 million in Q1, compared to 9 deals worth $432 million in Q1 CY2011 and 4 deals worth $97 million in the same period in 2010, according to VCCEdge. This is much lower than the peak of 22 deals cumulating to $1.2 billion in the first quarter of 2008, after which stock markets went into a tailspin due to global financial meltdown.

Although the overall value of PE investments has shrunk and investors remain cautious about the sector, it does not necessarily reflect a poor investment scenario in the realty space, according to analysts.

Shobhit Agarwal, joint managing director (capital markets) at property consultant Jones Lang LaSalle India, says, “Most of the funding that is happening now is for last-mile project completion where most of the money has already been spent by the developers and they don’t need large-size funding.” In fact, the projects are 60-70 per cent complete and developers are looking for some more equity to finish them off, he adds.

Last year, the average deal for PE investments was skewed up in the first quarter due to two $100 million-plus investments, including one by Ascendas. This pushed up the average deal size to around $50 million, as against the average size of $20-25 million in Q1 of the previous two years.

But there is another reason for lower quantum of investments by PE firms in the realty sector. According to V Hari Krishna, director of Kotak Realty Fund, “Most of the funds are reaching their shelf life and new fundraising is not happening in the same pace as it happened in the earlier round. Therefore, a lot of funds have either exhausted their capital or are on the verge of it and investments are slowing down.”

Even though the average ticket size of PE investments has shrunk, real estate remains one of the top sectors drawing PE firms. During Q1, real estate accounted for almost 10 per cent of the total PE deal volume and around 15 per cent of total value of PE investments, as per VCCEdge.

Lemon Tree: To open 100 hotels in India by 2020.

“By 2020 we plan to open 100 hotels in India with an inventory of around 10,000 rooms,” Lemon Tree Hotels Chairman and Managing Director Patu Keswani told reporters on the sidelines of the Hero Mind mine Summit 2012.

Lemon Tree Hotels is planing to open 100 hotels in India by 2020, with a total room capacity of 10,000.

The company also said it has put on hold plans to foray into real estate in partnership with US-based investment firm Warburg Pincus.

This year the company is opening two more hotels, he said without sharing details on the investment that would be required for the expansion.

Keswani, however, said the company plans to raise money from financial institutions or may even go public in the next two-three years. “In the next 2-3 years, we might look at public listing,” Keswani said.

At present, the company’s total room capacity is around 2,000. On the company’s proposed real estate foray, he said: “We have put that housing project in cold storage. It is not the good time to start a project like that.”

In April last year, the company had announced that it will foray into real estate with plans to invest over Rs 1,400 crore to launch housing projects in India in partnership with US-based investment firm Warburg Pincus. “We will wait for the Indian economy to become better and interest rates to come down…I do not see the situation improving in another 2 years,” he added.


NRI Market is less volatile.

For most top property developers in India, the Non-Resident Indian (NRI) is a crucial part of their business.

They know that the NRI will always want a piece of his/her homeland, no matter the price and no matter the time.

Thus, despite the price rise of 43 per cent to as much as 166 per cent in various cities, the NRI cash is still flowing into the Indian property market.

Developers say sales in that segment are not as variable as the domestic Indian market.

Noida-based property developer Amrapali Group’s chairman and managing Anil Kumar Sharma told tabla!

“NRIs wish to have a second home in the country they belong to. Favourable government policies are also a driving force behind the increased interest of NRIs in investing in Indian real estate. NRI investments are the least volatile of all in our industry. They are assured that they are investing in an asset which they can fall back upon.”

Mr Sharma, who is also the vice-president of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India, added that prices are rising because of the expanding infrastructure, which in the long run will help the buyer and increase the value of the property even further.

He said: “Upcoming projects like the metro, monorail and the international projects in the big cities in India have contributed to the inflated real estate prices in these cities.”

Amrapali claims that almost 35 per cent of its overseas business comes from Singapore.

No wonder it will be participating in Sumansa Exhibitions’ Indian Property Show to be held in Suntec City on April 14 and 15.

HUL sells leasehold rights for Mumbai property

FMCG major Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) on Wednesday said the company has sold its leasehold rights of a property in Mumbai for Rs 452.5 crore to Ajay Piramal Group firm Piramal Realty.

HUL and entities of Piramal Realty have signed an agreement for assignment of HUL’s leasehold rights of the land and building named ‘Gulita’ situated at Mumbai for Rs 452.5 crore, HUL said in a filing to the BSE.

The consideration includes both fixed and variable components, it added.

According to sources, realty consultant Jones Lang LaSalle India negotiated the deal on behalf of Piramal Realty.

The property was taken on lease from Maharashtra government by HUL and used as a training centre, a source said, adding Piramal Realty will use the premises to develop a new residential complex.

In the past few years, HUL has been selling off some of properties it owns, including some in Gurgaon and Mumbai, to unlock value.

Shares of HUL today closed at Rs 399.55 on the BSE, down 1.08 per cent from its previous close.

Indians on top of the first time property buyers list in Dubai.

While Dubai remains a hot and one of the favourite destinations of Bollywood. It has definitely fascinated other strata of India as well.
As per the Dubai real estate data, No other national has purchased property to the tune Indians have in 2011.

Indians have topped the list of first-time property buyers in Dubai in 2011, having bought properties worth 2.1 billion dirhams (Rs 292 crore), Dubai Land Department data has revealed.

 

The Indians topped the list of new investors in Dubai properties and conducted 927 transactions worth 2.1 billion dirhams. This represents 16 per cent of the overall value of transactions carried out by new investors,” the department said.

 

While it did not mention the nationality of the second largest investors, the department said the UAE nationals came third, having invested 1.575 billion dirhams (Rs 219 crore).
According to the department the new money flowing into the Dubai property market last year totalled 13.13 billion dirhams (Rs 1,825 crore).

 

Meanwhile, Asian investors formed 68 per cent of the overall number of investors in the sector, with the UAE nationals topping the list with 35 per cent representation of the overall number of Asian landlords, followed by Indians at 20 per cent.

 

DLF and Unitech stocks up for mortgage cut.

Real estate developers rallied after newspaper Times of India reported on Tuesday some banks were cutting home loan rates for new borrowers, sparking hope of increased property sales in the country.

DLF and Unitech rose about 1% each on the report, which said that lenders Canara Bank and IDBI Bankhad slashed these rates to attract new borrowers.

The reported moves sparked hopes other rival banks would be forced to match the cuts in the loan rates.

Real Estate Sector: A look at urban investments in Mumbai.

India’s growth story has many facets; one of the integral parts of growth – and arguably the most important one – is urbanization. In fast-growing economies, cities are significant investment and employment generators, which in turn carry the growth momentum forward. The sustainability and liveability of any city depends largely on the quality of its infrastructure and real estate stocks. Needless to say, cities also require large sums of money to create urban asset stocks, including buildings and infrastructure.

Over last decade, India’s population grew by 18% while its urban population grew at almost double that rate (at 32%). Currently, about 31.2% of India’s population lives in urban areas. The country’s share of urban population has increased by almost 3.5% over the last decade. What is even more astounding is the increase in the built-up real estate stock in its cities and towns.

Data from the 2001 census shows that about 110 million ‘Census Houses’ exist in the urban areas, which indicates an increase of 39 million over the last 10 years. In other words, real estate stock shows a compounding growth of 4.5 % per annum as against the growth rate of 2.8% in urban population. Obviously, such massive growth needs adequate support from infrastructure.

However, the state of affairs with infrastructure in Indian cities is not very encouraging. Most of the cities still have to deal with issues in terms of roads, public transportation, sanitation, storm water drainage, solid waste management systems, etc. on a regular basis. With the volume of real estate stock increasing inexorably in the cities, there is an acute problem with the basic needs like energy and water in the store for urban India.

The private sector contributes most of the development of real estate stock; however, the responsibility of infrastructure development lies squarely with public sector entities such as ULBs and other utility companies – most of which are Government agencies. The investment pattern in our cities shows a similar trend – the private sector invests in the development of real estate stocks, while the public sector invests largely into infrastructure development.

The quantum of investments in most infrastructure projects is huge, and the agencies responsible for its development are seriously under-financed. They depend either on domestic grants like JNNURM or on intercalation financing involving bilateral and multilateral agencies. In some instances, funds are mobilized from private sources in the form of Public Private Partnership. The private sector generally tends to shy away from investments into city-level infrastructure projects, as most of these projects are considered non-remunerative. They prefer to focus on investing into the development of real estate stock.

Mumbai, India’s financial capital attracts massive investments – largely in the real estate sector. The city being the nation’s epitome of high real estate prices and land scarcity, huge sum of money keep chasing land in the city – while infrastructure augmentation lags behind. Way behind.

Study says that MNCs surpass Indian firms in office space uptake.

With bearish sentiment affecting corporate expansion plans in the country’s financial capital, there has been a steep decline in the commercial real estate taken up by Indian companies. In contrast, multinational companies (MNCs) have picked up considerable office space here.

The latest report by property advisor DTZ comparing the trends in the first quarter of 2012 to the same period last year shows a noticeable change in the profile of the commercial real estate occupier in Mumbai. Between January and March 2012, Indian corporate firms account for 29 per cent of occupiers of new commercial realty space in the city. This is a sharp fall from the 71 per cent market share of new space that these corporates picked up in the corresponding period in 2011.

In comparison, US- and Europe-based corporates were responsible for taking up 5 and 18 per cent of the space in the first quarter of 2011 respectively. In the same period this year, their market share has gone up by 32 and 23 per cent respectively.

According to Rohit Kumar, DTZ research head, an analysis of quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year office space take-up highlights the fact that relative market share of MNCs based out of USA and Europe has increased significantly while that of their Indian counterparts has dropped. “Be it IT, ITES or Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BSFI), the MNCs find India relatively cheaper in terms of labour and real estate. On the other hand, despite the positive growth signals from the US and Europe, Indian corporates are more conservative, fearing the return of recession,” said Kumar.

Mumbai offers little hope for home buyers.

In a recent report, Jones Lang LaSalle said that Mumbai seems to be in a tighter spot with Rs275 billion being sunk in land since FDI (foreign direct investment) was allowed in real estate in 2005; most of which has failed to yield returns. Even many investments done in South Bombay once named as one of the hottest and costliest property location in the world have met the same fate. Read Mumbai has sunk Rs275 billion in lands since 2005, the reason is known to all. Sky high prices have put off customers. In Mumbai, an average flat costs more than Rs10,000 per sq. ft. and even in Navi Mumbai, in less populated areas, there are many projects that have flats priced at over Rs1 crore.

Add to that the confusion created by the new DCR (development control rules). Many builders now have to make fresh plans to accommodate the proposed changes about FSI; and the worst affected are those whose projects are already underway. Many of the launches have been put on hold, and construction has been stalled in many places. And for people who have already invested in these projects, the longer the deadlock lasts, the more they have to pay.

Buy or not to buy? Despite a profusion of analyses and research reports on housing prices and their future direction, home buyers remain as confused as ever. So it is little wonder that 37 lakh of flats remain vacant in Maharashtra, of which 4.79 lakh are in Mumbai. The Census Directorate data says that even Thane district has more than 5 lakh vacant flats.

“Why doesn’t the government or RBI (Reserve Bank of India) understand that the more they squeeze liquidity by raising interest rates, it raises returns on black investments even higher. If our country can bring down black element out of property, rents will fall, property prices will fall,” said a commentator.

The home-buyer, however, is at a loss. The Budget came as a flop, and a recent Crisil report says that prices of steel and cement will go up, which will probably be passed down to the end-user. And then, there is the proposal to hike on leave-license, which is going to make rentals expensive. There are some who expect matters to improve.

Pankaj Kapoor, MD, Liases Foras also had echoed similar thoughts. “The high prices are not fault of only the builders. The hike in stamp duty was uncalled for and it is too revenue-centric and indicates a short term vision.” Read Maharashtra Stamp duty hike: “Neither can you afford to own a home, nor take it on rent”

However, as most experts say, one can buy a home any time. “You never know what will happen next. And honestly, there is little evidence to suggest that customers have waited for better home loan or price options when they have to buy a home—because it is a necessity. So if you want to own a home, there is no bad time,” said an analyst.

“India is a top focus for Realty Moghul” says Trump Scion.

Trump’s eponymous real estate group expects to sign multiple deals for Indian residential projects and hotel contracts over the next five years, despite a market riddled by regulatory uncertainty and bureaucratic red tape.

“India, among other emerging markets, is the biggest push for our organisation,” Donald Trump Jr, an executive vice president of The Trump Organization, said on Wednesday.

Trump, whose portfolio includes projects in South Korea and Turkey, in addition to hotels and skyscrapers in the United States, is close to signing a couple of deals with Indian developers, the younger Trump said without providing details.

“Equity investment will depend on individual projects and partnerships but first we would like to form relationships which allow us to understand the processes and spectrum better,” the 34-year-old said on the side-lines of a hotel conference.

The developer entered India last year with a joint venture partnership with Rohan Lifescapes to build a 45-storey luxury residential tower in Mumbai.

However, work on the tower, which will bear the Trump name but involves no equity from the U.S. developer, has been halted for about nine months since authorities said it lacked the necessary permits, a common problem in an industry wrapped in red tape.

Indian developers are often hit by changing regulations. In Mumbai, for example, the scrapping of a rule granting extra floor space in exchange for providing public parking facilities has meant many projects must reapply for clearances.

But Trump, whose father is worth an estimated $2.9 billion, according to Forbes, says the lure of an emerging India outweighs the regulatory headaches.

“The Indian market is starved for a good luxury product and it needs a brand like ours,” he said.

“I like the regulatory changes I am seeing. It may slow things down a bit but will create a level playing field and will help in eliminating the unknown for an outside investor coming in,” he said.

The company plans to focus expansion in the country on luxury residences and hotels, and would look at cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and the state of Goa.

Some local players such as privately held Lodha Developers and Godrej Properties are emerging as strong brands in India’s luxury housing space, but the market remains fragmented.

And despite a slew of interest rate hikes that have cooled India’s overall property market and hit luxury developers particularly hard, Trump is bullish.

 

‘Simplify Administrative Procedures, Introduce Reforms’-CREDAI

Simplify administrative procedures, introduce land reforms and changes in banking and taxation systems is the way to increase construction of houses, according to Mr Lalit Jain, National President of Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI). The developers have decided to make a representation to the Central Government on the issue of administrative reforms.

The governing council of the industry body will follow up on its representation, and in 45 days decide on further course of action, including going on strike, according to a press release from the confederation. The release said Mr Jain, addressing the annual governing council meeting in Pune, said the changes are needed to encourage the construction business. This will help increase the supply of houses and bring down costs. The Government and the private sector should partner to address the shortage in housing.

The real estate developers have been demanding the changes as they maintain that delays in getting project clearances, high land cost, high rates of taxation and shortage of funds in the real estate sector are driving up the cost of construction. The real estate developers’ organisation has emerged the main representative for the sector, as its membership includes more than 6,000 developers across 20 States and 100 associations in major cities in India.

Mr Pradeep Jain, National Chairman of CREDAI, said the industry body is encouraging self-regulation, by demanding its members to adopt a uniform code of conduct. The members discussed a range of issues that needed to be addressed, including the need for an affordable housing policy, undue delays in approvals, price rise, and standardising procedures across various States.

CREDAI is committed to disclosing the exact cost of a project, once the single-window clearance for approvals is set in place. Each developer will be required to mention the complete cost in each sale. In agreements with buyers, the developers must mention carpet areas in all sale material and agreements; each city unit will establish a consumer redressal forum for dispute resolution. Peer pressure and better understanding between buyer and seller helps resolve issues and save on cost and time for both parties and re-establish goodwill.

Leela Kovalam, Noida, one of the top high-value sellers in Asia.

The sale of Leela Kempinski Kovalam was among the top 10 hotel deals in Asia during the past one year, shows data from the US-based research firm Real Capital Analytics.

Real Capital, which tracks and analyses real estate deals worth over $10 million across apartments, hotels, retail, industrial, office and development projects over the world, has also named Noida as a top site for sales in the development site category for a deal with the Wave Group for a mega mixed-use project. Mumbai and Bangalore also figure among the active office markets in Asia. In apartments, Delhi and Mumbai are part of the top league in the year ended March 31, 2012.

The Leela Kovalam deal, pegged at about Rs 500 crore, was the 10th in the Asia-list of largest hotel sellers during the one-year period. The Kovalam beach property was sold to Saudi Arabia-based industrialist Ravi Pillai last August.

The other big hotel players in Asia which sold properties at high value include Japan Hotel, LaSalle, Kingdom Holding, Hines and Shui On Group.

Even as Indian entities don’t figure anywhere in the top 10 global list vis-à-vis high value real estate deals in the financial year that just gone by, many of them have made it to the Asian hall of fame.

Noida, the industrial development area next to Delhi, is fifth in the development site sellers’ list in Asia. This was for a deal with industrialist Ponty Chadha-promoted Wave Group for the mixed-use project, Wave Mega City Centre, at an estimated price of $1.4 billion (about Rs 7,140 crore at the current forex rate), according to Doug Murphy, director (analytics) at Real Capital.

In the office space, Bangalore and Mumbai have been named among the most active Asian markets. “There were a number of locations for office sales in Bangalore and Mumbai, the largest being the Embassy Manyata Business Park transaction in Bangalore for about $537 million (Rs 2,738 crore) and Citibank building in Mumbai for about $224 million (Rs 1,142 crore),” Murphy said. Both transactions took place in August 2011.

Delhi and Mumbai are part of the most active Asian apartment markets. While Delhi is ranked sixth, Mumbai is eighth. Tokyo tops the list in high value apartment deals, followed by Singapore, Hong Kong, Osaka, Beijing, Delhi, Fukuoka, Mumbai, Nagoya and Kuala Lumpur.

India is nowhere in the retail top league where deals in Asia are concerned. Among hotels, Chennai is seen as an active market in the eighth position. Singapore leads as the most active hotel market in Asia, followed by Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Beijing, Seoul, Osaka, Chennai, Kuala Lumpur and Suzhou.

Buyers back in Real Estate Sector this Navaratra.

Buyers are back in the realty market this Navaratra, lending credence to this festive season’s reputation as a golden period for business in this sector.

There is flurry of activity in the offices of realty firms as buyers are coming out to seal deals. The mood is likely to remain upbeat till the end of summer vacation of schools.

“I am sure that this positive momentum in the market will continue till summer vacation when even more end users are likely to clinch deals,” Samir Jasuja, the chairman and managing director of Prop Equity, says.

“After Navaratra, summer vacation in schools is regarded a good time for realty, as people wait for the end of term of their children to shift houses or buy one. The summer is a time of transfers and relocation; a time of school admissions and hunting for a house near schools, so that children can have an easy commute,” Jasuja says.

Gaurav Mittal, the managing director of CHD Developers, says: “The mood is really upbeat in the market with people finalizing deals in property. While market warms up during Navaratras even during bad times, this Navaratra is different. The quantum of deals is unexpected, though a welcome development.”

Jasuja says, “Notwithstanding a slew of legal battles, buyers are taking a final call on their new purchases in Noida and Greater Noida.” A report of Prop Equity says that the current financial year has proved to be good for almost all the big cities of the NCR including, Noida, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Greater Noida and Faridabad.

Sanjay Khanna, the director of Kailash Nath Developers Pvt Ltd, says: “I hope the worst is over for realty market and transactions take place till the end of summer vacation in schools. This Navaratra is proving to be very auspicious for the realty world. I know that NRIs, too, find the summer months an ideal time to return to their roots in order to buy property. Their search for a property also starts during the summer. This is the time when they visit India in order to meet their relatives and, side by side, also look for nice properties. They do not mind paying slightly more for good properties.”

Realty watchers say that April-June period records a high quantum of property transactions. Realty market picks pace from Navaratras. This is a time when end users finalize their deals and those looking for new homes on rent, also shift. The summer is also a time when the resale market picks up nicely.

Vijay Jindal, the chairman and managing director of SVP group, says: “It is a hectic period from Navaratra and through the summer months. A lot of transactions take place at all levels.” He says that during the summer, buyers give priority to those projects which are close to good schools.

No bar on Real Estate Sector from applying for UASL.

A prosecution witness in the 2G spectrum allocation case on Thursday told a Delhi court that as per the Unified Access Service Licences guidelines, the real estate firms were not barred from applying for the licences.

Company Secretary V Mohan of real estate firm Parsvnath Developers Ltd, which had applied for the UAS licences in 22 circles in August 2007, told Special CBI Judge O P Saini that when the company had applied for the 2G licences, they had gone through the UASL guidelines.

“When the company made application for UAS licence, I had gone through UASL guidelines. When I went through guidelines and the company decided to file application for UAS licences, it was quite clear to me that there was no restriction on a real estate company, applying for a UAS licence,” Mohan said.

Mohan deposed that in August 2007, the firm tried to venture in the telecom business and made applications to the Department of Telecom (DoT) for licences.

Mohan said their application was rejected by the DoT and Parsvnath Developers Ltd did not get any licence.

During his cross-examination, he said their firm was complying with net worth criteria and paid up equity capital criteria when it applied for the UASL on August 24, 2007.

He said the firm knew about August 2007 recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and in view of this, they knew that the entry fee for grant of pan-India UAS licence was Rs 1,658 crores.

“The company was in the know of TRAI recommendations of August 2007. The company knew that the entry fee for grant of a pan-India UAS licence was Rs 1,658 crore, in view of TRAI recommendations. When the company made the application on August 24, 2007, it never knew that DoT was going to announce a cut-off date,” Mohan said.

Mohan, whose deposition concluded today, said the main ground communicated to Parsvnath Developers Ltd by the DoT for rejecting its application for the UASL was that the telecom business was not in the object clause of the firm at the time of making the application.

He said the rejection of the application by the DoT was challenged by the firm before the Delhi High Court. Besides Mohan, the court also recorded the testimony of prosecution witness Raj Kumar Kapoor, a retired Director of Bycell Communications (P) Ltd, which had also applied for UAS licences in 2007.

Kapoor, whose recording of testimony concluded today, said he was called by the DoT officials for licences on January 10, 2008 but at Sanchar Bhawan, he was given a letter to the effect that their application for UASL was not considered.

Chennai leads Indian Realty Sector.

In a recent report, property broking and real estate consulting firm Jones Lang LaSalle said the Indian property market is poised to attract about US$3 billion, almost double last year’s US$1.6 billion, from overseas buyers this year.

The Indian property market will see more investment from overseas this year as it still remains an attractive investment destination globally.

Of this, one-third would be from home buyers and the balance from investors. This is despite the fact that property prices in India are at an all-time high.

According to a recent National Housing Bank (NHB) survey, property prices in big Indian cities have increased by as much as 43 per cent to 166 per cent in the last four years.

NHB, wholly owned by the Reserve Bank of India, lends to home-mortgage companies. It also regulates and refinances social housing programmes. In its report, the bank said Chennai had seen the highest rise in prices at 166 per cent. Bhopal was second with a hike of 117 per cent and Mumbai was ranked third with an increase of 87 per cent.

What then brings overseas investment to Indian property, when prices are skyrocketing? The answer is simple: Despite the global turmoil because of the financial crisis, the Indian economy has remained robust, largely due to domestic-driven demand.

According to Jones Lang LaSalle, India’s strong economic growth, rapid urbanisation, growing middle-class population, demographic advantage and increased thrust on infrastructure has worked in its favour. Buying property is especially popular among Indians living abroad, who all seem to want a piece of the homeland. That is why Indian property shows are burgeoning around the globe.

Dubai-based Sumansa Exhibitions has been holding Indian property shows across five countries. And every year the number of developers taking part in the shows and the attendees has grown rapidly.

Sumansa Exhibitions’ chief executive officer Sunil Jaiswal says: “We have held shows in the UK, South Africa, Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore. They have been very well received by both exhibitors and visitors alike.”

This year Sumansa will hold the Indian Property Show in Singapore on April 14 and 15. It will be held at the Suntec Exhibition Centre’s hall 401 and nearly 40 developers from across India will be part of the show.

More than 200 properties will be showcased during the two-day exhibition. Sumansa expects the number of footfalls at the event to be much larger than the 4,000 that turned up at its last year’s event.

Preferred Bidder for 42 Marriott Hotels in UK is an Indian investor.

Indian property investor Blue Mountain Real Estate Advisors has been selected as the preferred bidder for 42 Marriott hotels throughout Britain after it offered almost 750 million pounds, a media report has said.

The holding company for the portfolio of hotels collapsed under the weight of about 900 million pounds of debt, most of it held by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

Blue Mountain Real Estate Advisors, a part of the Mumbai-based India Blue Mountain group, is understood to have been granted a period of exclusivity by RBS to put together funding for a deal, The Times said in a report.

The proposed sale to Blue Mountain comes as a surprise as, according to the report, the front-runners in the latter stages of the auction had been RB Capital and Sahara, the Indian group that bought the Grosvenor House on Park Lane just over a year ago for 470 million pounds.

IOREC: Property Market In Mauritius a Profitable Investment.

The sluggish global economy has not left the property sector unscathed, but the high-end estate market on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius is showing remarkable resilience.

Murray Adair, CEO of the Indian Ocean Real Estate Company (IOREC) who is developing several luxury resorts in Mauritius in partnership with Flacq United Estates Limited (FUEL), says while there had been a slow-down in the property market, sales transactions in upmarket resorts on the island remain buoyant.

Adair says this is particularly true for resorts developed under the Mauritian Government’s Integrated Resort Schemes (IRS) which aims to encourage foreign direct investment. He pointed out that more foreign ownership approved units were sold in 2011 than in the whole of 2009 and 2010 combined. Under the IRS, foreigners are allowed permanent residence in Mauritius when they invest $500 000 or more in these designated resorts and they keep this status for as long as they own the property.

“We find that the IRS is definitely encouraging investment on the island. For example, over 50% of the properties at Azuri, a luxury beachfront village to be built on the coast about 25 km from Port Louis on the north east coast, have been sold off-plan since it was launched in September 2011,” says Adair.

Adair says while the International Monetary Fund in January cut its 2012 growth forecast for Mauritius from 4.1% to 3.8%, the country remains a sought-after tourist and investment destination. He says the tourism sector contributes 15% to the GDP of Mauritius and remains the biggest foreign exchange earner for the island.

“The Government’s initiatives to further diversify the economy and encourage investments from the Far East, including China, Russia and India will further enhance the long-term growth potential of the island,” concludes Adair.

Brigade Group opens Orion mall in Bangalore.

Real estate developer Brigade Group has opened its flagship retail venture Orion mall in Brigade Gateway Enclave, Bangalore. Spread over 8.2 lakh sq. ft., the mall houses a mix of global and national brands.

Orion mall is developed and managed by Brigade Group and located in the Brigade Gateway Enclave that also includes the World Trade Centre, Sheraton Bangalore hotel, 1,200+ residences, Columbia Asia Hospital, The Brigade School, and Galaxy Club. The mall overlooks a two-acre manmade lake and has open-air children’s play area and amphitheatre.

Foley Designs and DSP Design are the interior designers, while HOK from New York has developed the main design of the mall. The mall has LED lighting solutions, automatic sensor controlled car parking, over 225 closed-circuit security cameras apart from 42 lifts and escalators.

Speaking on the occasion, Jaishankar, CMD, Brigade Group, said: “Orion mall will undoubtedly be the most sought-after destination amongst discerning shoppers and for brands of repute as well. With the launch of Orion, it truly transforms the Brigade Gateway Enclave into an exclusive integrated lifestyle enclave and marks the Brigade Group’s foray into the highly competitive retail segment.”

The mall has three entrances from Dr. Raj Kumar Road – Rajajinagar, Yeshwantpur (next to Metro Cash & Carry), and Railway Parallel Road – Malleswaram.
Orion has a hypermarket (Star Bazaar). Its food court (Sauce Pan) spreads over 55,000 sq. ft. Housing brands like Mc Donald’s, Subway, Sbarro, Rajdhani, Kailash Parbat, Empire, Empire Fresh Fruit Juice Centre, Indian Tadka, Mad about China, Mad over Donuts, Tiger bay, and Up south. The mall also houses a Reliance Digital store for electronics need.
For entertainment, Orion will house the largest PVR multiplex of the country – with 11 screens and over 2,800 seats. BluO, a 27-lane bowling centre will also open its first centre in the city. The lounge will offer entertainment options like Karaoke bar. The mall will also house Time Zone, an 8,000 sq. ft. gaming centre.

Brigade Group has completed over 100 projects, developing over 20 million sq. ft. of area since 1986.