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Allan Saunderson is managing editor of Property Finance Europe and a contributor to GlobeSt.com.

BUCHAREST, ROMANIA-Diwaker Singh, the former managing director of Romanian residential developer Copper Beech, is setting up a property investment fund with start-up capital of €100 million to focus on the acquisition of distressed properties worth over €10 million.

Local media report the fund, to be launched in August, has UK and US shareholders, and will be managed by Singh, who stepped down from Copper Beech in April. Singh told the Business Standard portal he left because, “this is no longer a good time for real estate developments.”

He will also exit Copper Beech as shareholder. “Singh owns one share in each of our 16 projects, and he must return these, except for the Blue Tower share,” said Copper Beech President Dinesh Dhamija.

The Blue Tower apartment block in the Colentina area of Bucharest is the only project near completion. At the launch of the UK-backed Copper Beech in 2007, it planned 16 residential projects totaling 16,500 housing units, with an investment budget put at €2.5 billion, on 6 million square meters. of land in and around Bucharest.

At end-2007, it signed a financing agreement worth €575 million with Austrian Erste group’s Banca Comerciala Romana, to be used when the company’s second project was launched. However, the company froze all projects last year and the loan was not accessed.

“We have a document but I do not know how much it is worth now,’ said Dhamija, who founded the ebookers internet travel agency and is named by Britain’s Richest Asians Magazine as the 14th richest Asian in the UK with an estimated £178 million fortune. Dhamija sold ebookers to Cendant (now Orbitz) in 2005 before founding Copper Beech.

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