Listed pan-European industrial group CTP plans to scale up its presence in Poland, founder and CEO Remon Vos said at the Mipim trade show in Cannes.
Poland has up to now been a second-tier market for CTP, but the developer is on a drive to expand its operations in the country, where it currently has 600,000 m² of warehouse space under construction.
‘We tried gaining a foothold in Poland three times before, but this time it is going to work,’ Vos said, adding: ‘There are changes going on in the country, so this is the moment.’
The Polish market offers strong potential due to its large population – around 40 million – while wage costs are about one third of levels in western Europe. Moreover, the Polish government encourages foreign investors - not only developers, but also tenants, he said.
Speaking on the last day of Mipim, Vos’s sense of this year’s event was that it was a little quieter than in previous years. ‘I see the flashy guys, as usual, and to me they don’t seem too depressed,’ he told PropertyEU. ‘I’m not a flashy guy myself, I’m just a simple builder and developer, who likes to take care of his properties.’
The CTP boss sees no let-up in logistics demand, despite the ongoing geopolitical turbulence and disrupted supply chains. ‘In the long term, it’s a blessing for Europe,’ he said. ‘We stop being dependent on Russian gas and we stop being dependent on inexpensive manufacturing from China.’
According to Vos, the anticipated growth in nearshoring by companies will lead to more business in Europe and to a rethink of energy sources, and this will give a boost to renewable energy. ‘The latter is certainly the trend,’ Vos said, ‘I hear that from every developer I talk to.’
Vos has attended Mipim for the last 20-odd years, during which time CTP has grown in leaps and bounds, and also listed on the Amsterdam stock exchange.
The company, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, currently has a property portfolio worth around €12 bn. The aim, according to Vos, is to almost double that to around €20 bn. ‘I am very positive about our long-term outlook. I can even picture growth to €40 bn. In many locations where we are active, we have room for expansion and the zoning has already been taken care of.’
In the early years, CTP attended Mipim with Czech municipalities like Brno and Ostrava to promote the country and its cities. Said Vos: ‘We were developing there, so it made sense to try to draw attention to Czechia and promote it.’ Today, the Czech operations still form the heart of the business.
Later, when CTP expanded to other countries, it decided to have its own booth. Networking is one of the main reasons for attending the fair, according to Vos. Together with deputy CEO Richard Wilkinson and CFO Patrick Zehetmayr, among other colleagues, he spends time talking to all kinds of people, bankers for instance who provide financing for CTP’s projects. ‘With some of these we have had contacts for many years,’ Vos said, ‘we all meet here’.
In the past 22 years CTP has worked with banks from Austria, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands. Over time CTP has issued bonds worth over €4 bn, and a lot of these have not yet matured. ‘Right now the environment is not so good for bond issuance, so in 2023 and 2024 we are planning to resort mostly to bank loans for financing.’
Vos also uses Mipim to get together with longstanding contacts in the Czech market. ‘It’s funny, we could meet there, but in the end we always decide to get together at Mipim.’ He does that with many people from the 10 countries where CTP has a presence.
The CTP founder also meets with other developers to discuss market issues. ‘I don’t see them anywhere else, so that is interesting. There is often a lot of overlap. Take WDP from Belgium, for instance. They are in many of the same countries as we are.’ Meeting competitors provides an opportunity to talk about regulatory issues that all companies have to deal with in the EU or in separate countries.
ESG and diversity
‘ESG is important to us,’ Vos noted, adding that Mipim ‘is a place where you can learn about new developments or things you didn’t know yet’. Within ESG, diversity is a priority: Vos favours equal opportunities and claims there is a good gender balance within CTP. ‘Unfortunately in real estate, women in executive positions are still not common,’ he remarked.
Vos owns 75% of CTP shares; the rest is public property and listed on the Amsterdam stock Exchange. Asked if this is a good situation for the outside shareholders, he said: ‘We have a board of directors which looks after the interest of all shareholders, not just myself.’ The ownership ratio may change in the future, ‘but we are not looking into that right now,’ Vos said. ‘CTP has been listed for two years now and we like to show what we are capable of.’