SOFIA, BULGARIA-A consortium led by GE Commercial Finance Real Estate has acquired a 50% stake in an Israeli joint venture that is developing the Mall of Sofia, a 360,000-sf mixed-use development here in the state capital of Bulgaria. The project, which is under construction, will include a two-level shopping center, a 12-screen cinema, a supermarket and a five-story office building.The GE consortium includes Golub & Co., GE’s long-time partner in Central Europe. The JV the consortium bought includes AVIV, an Israeli property development company, and CCI, an Israel-based cinema operator. Construction on the retail element began in July 2004, with completion scheduled for March 2006. The project is 78% preleased. Completion of the office component is scheduled for May 2006. No preleasing has been announced. “This transaction marks the first investment GE has made in Bulgaria,” says Karim Habra, Managing Director of GE Commercial Finance Real Estate Central Europe. “Our intention (is) to increase our presence in the Central and Eastern European region, where we believe there are strong prospects for growth.”

Golub & Company affiliate GE Capital Golub has operated in Central and Eastern Europe since 1989. In addition to Warsaw Financial Center, the company has developed Warsaw Corporate Center; Charles Square Center in Prague; and the Atrium at Nevsky 25 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Currently, the company is developing a three-phase 1,300-unit residential condominium project near Prague called the Koski Slunecni vrsek (Sunny Hill).

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