Give us a business overview of the Leptos Estates.
We started 62 years ago in Cyprus. We do real estate development, real estate investments, hotels and everything else in between. We also do healthcare education. We have similar activities in Greece.
We are the biggest real estate company in Cyprus in terms of the number of assets and the number of properties developed. We develop a range of real estate assets like residential communities, mixed-use projects, and commercial properties.
We are building a casino which will be the biggest resort casino in Europe and is called the City of Dreams, which will be a big boost to tourism.
We just finished our flagship project called Limassol Del Mar. We have started another project in Limassol called the Blu Marine.
At Blu Marine, sales have totalled over Eur100 million and 30 per cent of buyers in that project are from the Middle East. What has made this project appealing to investors?
Location, location, location. It is in the city centre and by the seafront. It’s got the marina next to it. Nearby is an area called New Limassol, which was a factory area that is being redeveloped into a neighbourhood with high-rise mixed-use buildings. My price is very reasonable for the Blu Marine project. The facilities for the project include a 1,000 sqm spa, a double-height gym and a 50m outdoor pool.
We were hit by Coivd, so it took a year-and-a-half off our plan, but now we’re fully back on track. The project has four buildings. One of them has been sold completely, the second one has been sold 6 per cent and the other two buildings have not been released in the market yet.
Leptos Estates is believed to be one of the largest landowners in Cyprus. What is the scale of the overall real estate market in Cyprus?
Leptos is the biggest landowner of prime and super prime land. We don’t buy agricultural land. We are a big contributor to the economy because real estate has a big multiplier effect. It is not just a single transaction – houses create jobs, jobs create taxes, and taxes create more spending.
The size of Cyprus is similar to Israel – they have a population of around 9 million, we have a population of 1 million. The government needs to find ways to increase the population. The recent find of natural gas In Cyrpus will also play a huge part in growing the demand for real estate, infrastructure, factories and offices.
About half of the real estate in Cyprus is sold to locals and the other half to non-locals. [From the latter category], half is sold to Europeans and half to non-Europeans. Cyprus is an international investment destination. We’re seeing investors from Japan, South East Asia, the Middle East, UAE and also a big demand from Israel. We are registered in DIFC in Dubai and we also have offices in London, Egypt, Jordan, Vietnam, China, Russia, Ukraine and other countries.
Cyprus has a residency programme that is tied to real estate. Are overseas clients buying properties to move there or rather as an investment avenue?
Cyprus started selling homes to the British in the Sixties. The British were using them as holiday homes where they would spend winters in Cyprus and summers back in their home country. Now, we have work-from-home options and some people prefer to work from their holiday homes in Cyprus. Digital nomads can get a special tax status which is a big attraction for those moving to Cyprus. We also find customers who buy to rent out their properties, so it’s a mix of different buyers.
What are some of Leptos’ plans for its hospitality portfolio?
We manage our own hotels and use our own brands like Leptos Hotels and Leptos Calypso Hotels. Under this, we undertake contracts directly with major tour operators worldwide. We have around 3,000 hotel beds.
Is Leptos considering projects outside of Cyprus and Greece?
At the moment, we’re focusing on Cyprus and Greece. We have two projects coming up. We have Neapolis which is a little like Downtown Dubai. We also have another development in Greece.
After these two projects, we will consider opportunities outside of Cyprus and Greece. We have the experience in the real estate sector. Between 1974-1976, my father worked with a. company in Saudi Arabia that developed Saudia City in Jeddah which was used as the headquarters and accommodation for the airline’s employees.