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

MOSCOW-The Russian property developer Kopernik Group has signed over the 37,800-square-meter Severnoe Sianie business center and the Na Krasnoy Presne office complex in Moscow to the privately-held Alfa-Bank as credit redemption. Alfa plans to sell the properties by public tender, according to a new market report issued by research group GVA Sawyer.

Kopernik is the latest Russian builder forced to part with assets after struggling to meet debt payments. Capital Group also reportedly failed to repay a $400 million credit facility to Russia’s Sberbank, and is reported to have offered its 288,680 square meters Moscow-City business centre project as security. The development consists of over 101,000 square meters of apartments and 72,000 square meters of office premises.

According to GVA Sawyer, the office property market in Moscow is expected to remain challenging next year, though it should start to stabilise. “In the near term the current downtrend is expected to continue because of the complicated economic situation,” it said. Vacancy rates currently exceed 20%, with new business centres delivered in the third quarter remaining 60% to 80% tenantless. Rent levels have dropped by 40% to 50% over the past 12 months, and GVA Sawyer expects property values to drop by another 5% to 10% this year, after plunging 35% to 50% over the past 12 months.

Separately, Alfa said it has unloaded an office centre it received to cover debt from real estate firm MIAN – selling the Northern Lights complex to companies close to Razvitiye Stolitsa bank and office management specialist Bolshoi Gorod. It did not disclose the buyer or terms. But the property was the first that Alfa has sold since spring when it took over a number of MIAN assets during debt restructuring. Alfa sold the 39,000-square-meter Northern Lights (Severnoye Siyaniye) office on Ulitsa Pravdy. Razvitiye Stolitsa was known as Vizavi until 2006, according to the bank’s 2008 results.

Its shareholders include Rustem Teregulov, who was believed to be a co-owner of the Moscow region’s largest landlord — an investment company also called Vizavi, which bought up about 40,000 ha in the Moscow region. Alfa has already received three properties from MIAN to pay off a $185 million loan.

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