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BUCHAREST, ROMANIA-Setting its sights on another emerging international marketplace, GVA Worldwide has united with ASCO Properties, a real estate services firm headquartered in this southern Romanian metropolis. The company is being recast as GVA ASCO to reflect the global affiliation.

“We are prepared to meet the increasingly diverse needs of our clients by elevating our services to the international level,” ASCO general manager Mihai Astratinei says in a release announcing the partnership. Michael Corbett, president of Chicago-based GVA Worldwide, cites ASCO’s “dedication to client service and strong network of business relationships” in its homeland as attractions for his company in striking a deal with the firm. Those skills coincided with GVA’s realization that the country is a logical choice for continued growth, he adds.

“Romania has rapidly emerged as a hot spot for real estate investors from Europe and across the globe,” says Corbett. GVA has recently launched operations in such markets as China, India and Israel and now has more than 3,500 real estate professionals under its wing in 90 markets.

ASCO will celebrate its 14th year in business in 2008, a period when Romania has become an increasingly important country in the Central and Eastern European region. Once a communist stronghold, the country’s outlook shifted dramatically after the revolution of 1989 led to the demise of despot Nicolae Ceausescu, especially this decade when an economic surge fomented substantial progress. The capital city, Bucharest is undergoing a wave of commercial and residential real estate development that has caught the interest of cross-border investors and multinational companies.

Entry into the European Union has been a catalyst of growth, as developers and investors try to get into Romania before opportunities–and returns–lessen from the crush of activity. Besides a more stable future, Romania mimics other former Communist regimes in having a great need for new construction in nearly every arena, from industrial and office buildings to hotels, residential and retail product. Already, some cross-border players are branching out to untapped markets beyond Romania’s southern markets in search of greater returns.

Even so, Bucharest is expected to increase in stature as a European destination city into the next decade. The so-called “Little Paris” benefits from both quick access to other European centers and a diversifying economy bolstered by a strong educational system featuring several prominent academic institutions. At 1.9 million people, Bucharest is the sixth largest city in the European Union.

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