Craig Smith is the founder and publisher of Europaproperty.com. With more than ten years’ experience in publishing on the commercial real estate industry he has established himself as one of the leading figures on the market.
Europaproperty.com publishes news on the commercial real estate industry in Central & Eastern Europe Russia-CIS. Further market support is provided through a series of CRE conferences and related events, which are held in seven countries on three continents covering CRE; Investment, Office, Retail, Manufacturing/Industrial & Energy.
Since 2015 together with Ukrainian real estate club Europaproperty.com gathers the main players of real estate market from Ukraine, Georgia, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan in November to discuss main trends and celebrate the achievements and best projects.
LDaily: You do large events in Warsaw and all around Europe. What are the main differences comparing with Kyiv market?
C. Smith: The scale and value of the events in Warsaw and main European cities depends on the scale of the real estate market itself. The number of market players and volume of deals reflects in my events and publishing. Our forums, conferences and mixers provide Commercial Real Estate professionals with the ultimate networking opportunity to meet new contacts, investors and an arena to discuss the latest market developments. We do awards in Warsaw for 10 years in a row and now we easily gather more than 400-500 representatives. With the Eurozone’s continued lackluster economic performance, the need of the right place to discuss main trends and deals, to what is even more important to celebrate their achievements.
The main difference is in scale. As Ukrainian real estate market is still more local and slowly growing our event in Kyiv is far away less than ones in Poland. Though we see the positive tendencies and hard need in such communication platform as we provide. The other main thing which is completely different from the European market is the number of such events in Kyiv. I guess that the Eastern Europe Forum and Awards that we do is probably the only event of such standard and type in Kyiv.
LDaily: How can you evaluate the business climate in Ukraine?
C. Smith: This year I expect the biggest change to be in the business climate, after years of tensions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for Ukrainian separatists. The situation seems to be under control by Ukraine and this will bring the country to the investment map sooner or later. The main changes in economy can’t happen without foreign direct investments. To drag one in Ukraine the country needs the powerful advocacy abroad. I am one of the biggest fan of Kyiv and that region. But there should be thousands of them on main events of the market such MIPIM, MAPIC, Expo Real, Cityscape and many others.
LDaily: As we mentioned the international investment platforms can you recommend to our readers how they should promote the opportunities in Ukraine and what focus to take?
C. Smith: I see the big potential in residential and hotel market of the country as well as infrastructure. Industrial real estate is the other potential driver. These areas should be promoted widely on every investment platform abroad as well as by means of road show. Road shows can be the powerful tool for attracting investment funds and venture capitals. I know countries which can boast of huge FDI and still promoting themselves as it is never too much. Every opportunity should be turned to opportunity to drag investors and every foreign tourist who visit the country is potential investor. I got the information that investors from Germany, Poland, India, UAE, China are showing an interest in the Ukrainian market. However, the main sector of interest is agriculture.
LDaily: What main changes do you see for Ukrainian market in nearest 5 years’ perspective?
C. Smith: We live in a time when any predictions and estimations are useless though real estate market is relatively stable segment and many projects last more than several years. I believe that Ukraine is the next Poland in terms of its potential. Giving the situation of political and economic stability and growth the country will see the huge rise of FDI. For any investor the basic economic performance data will be the proper sign to invest.
I guess that our annual Forum and Awards for the whole region of Easter Europe is one of the tools to promote the country. And by doing our input we feel comfortably sure of bright future of Ukraine.