July 30, 2020
Major regional banks support BALFIN project, Skopje East Gate

At today’s press conference held at the East Gate Mall in Skopje, a syndicated loan agreement was signed to finance the construction of this shopping center. It is a total investment of about 103 million euros, and most of the funds for its realization are provided with financial support through a syndicated loan from domestic and internationally renowned banking groups. The total amount of the syndicated loan is 72 million euros.

The leading bank of the syndicated loan is NLB Banka AD Skopje, and the other participating banks are: NLB dd Ljubljana, Komercijalna Banka AD Skopje, Raiffeisen Bank Albania and Halk Banka AD Skopje.

This syndicated loan will enable the construction of one of the most modern shopping centers in the Balkans. East Gate Mall is part of the modern and contemporary multipurpose complex Skopje East Gate which, in addition to a shopping center, will contain business buildings and residential space. Behind this complex project stands the Balfin Group, which is one of the most most significant and successful investment groups in the Western Balkans region. The complex is a modern urban and architectural symbol of Skopje. The project introduces new and modern standards of urban living and working. The shopping center covers a total usable rental area of ​​about 57,000 m2 with 250 tenants (individual premises for rent).

In her speech on the occasion of the event she attended, Mrs. Edlira Muka, Bafin Group CEO, stated: “The today agreement is another step forward in the realization of Balfin Group’s vision to offer Skopje and North Macedonia a space where the shopping center interlaces with the business centre and quality residential environment. All three of these SEG components will provide the highest standards for shopping, business development and living. Balfin Group is present in most countries of the Western Balkans and in some European Union countries, employing more than 6,000 people. From our Experience and in our view, the region should be considered as a unified economic area without barriers to business development.”

“Leading this project and establishing this union was a huge challenge for us. Defining the financial structure was an extremely complex process within which the model of harmonized syndicated financing was built and defined. We are especially proud that we are successfully completing this project today, by signing this agreement. With the leadership of this union, NLB Bank proves that it has the capacity to lead and coordinate important domestic and international banking groups and manage complex financial models. As a systemically important bank in R. Northern Macedonia we have a focus and commitment to support project financing and implementation of projects with a vision. At the same time, we have shown that we are a bank that even in a crisis situation successfully supports its customers for growth and development of their businesses, and thus the Macedonian economy as a whole.” Said Antonio Argir, Chairman of the Board of NLB Banka AD Skopje.

According to Mr. Igor Davkov, CEO of East Gate Mall: After two hard years of elaborate working with the team of NLB Banka AD Skopje, we are signing the largest amount of bank financing ever signed in Macedonian history, when it comes to project financing of an investment from the private sector. With the signing of this agreement, Skopje East Gate closes the financial construction of the investment in the shopping center, in the amount of over 103 million euros, which financially completes the first phase of the entire project. NLB has the largest share in the syndicated loan with a share of about 53% in the total financial support provided by banks.

Despite the current situation and the challenges related to the COVID 19 crisis, over 36 million euros have been invested to date in the entire project, of which over 90%, or 32 million euros are invested in East Gate Mall.

Spread over 15 hectares of land, with a total gross built-up area of ​​over 500,000 m2 covering a shopping mall, residential complex and office park, SEG is the largest multi-purpose real estate project in the country and an investment of about 350 million euros.
According to the planned dynamics, the shopping center should be open for the autumn / winter 2021 season. This investment will completely change the image of the Macedonian retail industry. Namely, the shopping center on the retail market in Skopje will bring over 20 new world fashion brands on a retail area of ​​over 20,000 m2 or approximately 40% of the total area for renting the shopping center; will enable the opening of trade units that in their format and size correspond to the format and size in which the biggest fashion brands open stores in world capitals, and thus provide a completely different quality and quantity in the offer to the end consumer. We have already signed commercial terms and lease agreements with over 150 traders, so by today, more than a year before the opening of the mall, over 80% of the mall is leased with confirmed commercial terms from the tenants.”