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Friday, October 11, 2013

Lev Leviev opens 2nd mall in Romania

AFI Europe of the Africa Israel Properties Group opened its second mall in Romania last weekend. 

The company invested more than NIS 200 million (about $55 million) in the shopping center.

The AFI Palace Ploiesti mall is located in the city of Ploiesti, about 55 kilometers (34 miles) from Bucharest, a 35-minute drive from the center of the capital, and has some 250,000 residents.

The mall covers an area of 48,000 square meters (517,000 square feet), 33,000 of which are designated for rent as commerce, entertainment and parking areas. The mall's occupancy rate is 98%.

The commerce area is leased to 100 stores of international and local brands like H&M, Nike, Lee Cooper, and Israeli-owned Kenvelo, as well as Cinema City film theaters, which are also owned by Israelis. 

In the food court, visitors can find international chains like McDonald's, KFC and Domino's Pizza, and local food chains.
The groups controlling shareholder, Lev Leviev, said during the mall's opening ceremony that "the project's inauguration serves as unequivocal proof of Africa Israel's abilities as an entrepreneur company in establishing big projects in Israel, Moscow and Europe."

According to the company's estimates, some 60,000 visitors were present at the mall on the day of its inauguration and the shopping center will generate some NIS 26,000 ($7,338) a year in income from rent.
Africa Israel officials note that the opening of the Ploiesti Mall followed the success of the company's first mall in Romania, AFI Palace Cotroceni in Bucharest.

According to the company, more than 52,000 people visit the veteran mall every day, and is it considered one of the most successful shopping centers in Romania. Africa Israel views it as a significant asset in terms of the company's income.

In 2008, Africa Israel shares lost some 95% following the global financial crisis and as a result of the drop in value of the company's real estate. In August 2009, the company was forced to reach a debt agreement with its bondholders. As part of the arrangement, Africa Israel is committed to returning hundreds of millions of shekels a year.

As a result, the Africa Israel Group is highly dependent on increasing the income generated by its subsidiaries.

The AFI Palace Ploiesti mall was built within just 16 months. According to Africa Israel Properties CEO, "Our projects must be completed ahead of time. Our goal is to create greater value within the subsidiaries in order to strengthen the parent company."

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