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Nov 06, 2007 15:33 EEST
SOFIA (Bulgaria), November 6 (SeeNews) – London-based NBGI Private Equity owned by National Bank of Greece plans to invest 300 million euro ($436.5 million) in Southeast Europe within five years at the most, a company official said.
“The fund is quite opportunistic (…) Currently we have 300 million euro targeting investments in all kinds of areas in the whole southeast European region,” NBGI Private Equity investment director Dimiter Gurdjilov told SeeNews in a recent interview.
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Gurdjilov said the fund is interested in investing in real estate and production companies, especially producers of consumer goods and media, IT services and telecommunication companies.
The real estate sectors of Bulgaria and Romania have been booming for a few years now in anticipation of rising yileds after the two neighbours' entry in the European Union in January. EU-aspiring Serbia is expected to see a rise of investments in its real estate sector if it succeeds to build closer ties with the bloc.
“Money is not a problem, opportunities are the problem. Our investment horizon is the following five years but if there is a possibility to invest the money in two years; time, we will invest it in two years and additional funds can very easily be found,” Gurdjilov said.
He added the company was seeking to buy majority stakes but in the case of leading companies it might go for minority ones as well.
“For us Bulgaria and Romania are very interesting, primarily because of their accession to the EU,” Gurdjilov said. He added the two EU newcomers and their neighbour Serbia were attractive because of their strong economic growth.
Bulgaria's GDP is expected to grow by a real 6.4%, while Romania’s economy is seen expanding by a real 6.5% in 2007. Serbia expects its GDP to grow by around 7.0% this year.
Various private equity investors like U.S. Advent International, Austrian Wing Equity Management and Greek-based Global Finance invest in the region, attracted by prospects of higher yields in emerging markets compared to yields in mature ones.
“I definitely see that if things go as they should, there will be a new fund within two or three years (…) which may be larger,” Gurdjilov said.
He said the company plans to list some of the companies it had invested in on local bourses.
“We will definitely look for listings, (…) the idea for one of the companies we are currently looking at is to sell it at a few stages through listing on the bourse,” Gurdjilov said but declined to name the company.
He said companies with prospects for strong continuous growth were the most suitable for listing as they could offer better returns for investors but the low liquidity of the stock markets in the region would be a hindrance.
“Currently it is still easier to look for an exit through selling to a strategic investor rather than on the stock exchange (…) I am optimistic that in the following two or three years a real exit could become a fact [on southeast European bourses],” Gurdjilov said.
He added a strong local brand might make such a move easier.
The number of foreign investors targeting Southeast Europe’s stock exchanges is rising but the liquidity on these bourses is not high enough to provide comfort for foreign investors spending large sums of money as it is hard for them to close their investments fast.
NBGI Private Equity (www.nbgiprivateequity.co.uk) was initially set up to invest in existing small to medium-sized businesses across the UK. The typical size of the company’s deals varies from five million to 50 million British pounds.
($ = 0.6874 euro)
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