Swan Property, which owns the Swan Office & Technology Park in Bucharest’s northern Pipera area, entered insolvency this March at the request of its creditors: Unicredit and Invest Credit Austria. That hasn‘t stopped it from signing lease deals, however. eMag, the online retailer which moved into Swan back in 2011, is about to double its rented area to around 6,000 sqm, according to Carol Petrica, the Direct Leasing Manager at Swan Office Park.

“They are doing all right,” she said. “I understand they are hiring people and have interesting development plans,” Petrica says.

Mercedes-Benz Romania also leased 3,000 sqm of space in March, “fully aware about the insolvency” Petrica said, while during the last quarter of 2012 four companies re-located their operations to Swan Park. Among them were three technology companies: Austrian engineering and constructions company Bilfinger Berger (which took 640 sqm), the Dutch consulting and engineering company Tebodin B.V. (350 sqm) and the Romanian construction company Tecnoservice (750 sqm). The complex also hosts ING Bank’s subsidiary in Pipera, a pharmacy and two restaurants.

The two banks – Unicredit and Invest Credit – helped finance the project with a cumulative loan of over €50m.

 “Then the market fell and so did office rents. There was a difference between the expectations of the two banks regarding rent levels and the reality of the market,” Carol Petrica said. However, Swan’s developer, London based Chayton Capital is currently “intensively negotiating with the banks in order to buy the loan, and they are extremely optimistic about the outcome,” Petrica told CIJ. Chayton Capital also filed for insolvency in order to maintain the current management, even though the Casa de Insolventa Transilvania (CITR) has been appointed as administrator. Petrica said that “we still take care of the day to day jobs, but our activity takes place under the supervision of CITR.”

As for Mercedez-Benz Romania, Petrica said the deal was signed for a five-year term, but could not disclose the rate. “All I can tell you is we started negotiating at €12/sqm, which is low for such a project. It would be counter-productive to lease at less than the market price,” Petrica added. Another office building in Pipera is reported to be renting space at just €4/sqm/month.

Swan is also constantly organizing various art events in order to bring people out to its property and to help get rid of the “Pipera stigma”. The area still has one of the lowest office occupancy rates in Bucharest, at around 52 percent.

Swan Office & Technology Park (29,000 sqm) was developed by Chayton Capital LLP, with an investment of more than €50m, opening in the second quarter of 2011. It is the first project in Romania to achieve a “Post Construction” certificate under the BREEAM Europe 2009 regulations (“Very Good” rating). The recent deals at Swan account for almost 60 percent out of the total net take-up registered in the Pipera-Voluntari area. The office park is currently 37 percent occupied. (source: cijjournal.com)