Futureal Group has established itself as a major developer and investor in European real estate. Its portfolio contains over 220 development projects in Hungary, Poland, Romania, Germany, Spain, the UK and the US, covering 43 million square feet in total and valued at more than $6 billion. Could you summarize the group’s main activities?
Futureal Group is the preeminent real estate group in Hungary and it’s made up of three parts: Futureal, Cordia and HelloParks. Futureal is focused on commercial real estate as well as asset management and it has become the market-leading office developer in Budapest over the last decade. Its developments serve as headquarters for several Fortune 500 companies — for example, we have tenants like Oracle, Vodafone and British Telecom. Cordia has been the country’s top residential developer for 16 years and is now a European-wide diversified group. Its specialty is large-scale, mixed-use urban regeneration projects. In 2020, we also started to cater for the logistics sector by setting up HelloParks, which is one of the most promising branches of our portfolio right now. We’ve assembled an amazing team that has already turned HelloParks into the market-leading industrial and logistics developer in Hungary in terms of market share, with a portfolio of 10 million square feet of completed and potential developments. Today, HelloParks is responsible for 40% of all industrial and logistics projects in the country that are for rent.
HelloParks is currently developing four state-of-the-art megaparks for companies working in logistics, urban distribution, light industry and assembly on the north, west, south and east outskirts of Budapest: HelloParks Fót, Maglód, Alsónémedi and Páty. The sites cover a total of 602 acres, are in prime locations close to key transport nodes and offer flexible spaces at favorable rents, from the largest big-box halls available in the Budapest area to 21,500 square feet. Why are you investing so heavily in Hungarian industrial and logistics real estate?
The Hungarian industrial and logistics market is booming because of world events and because Hungary occupies a central position in Europe. The COVID crisis disrupted supply chains and marked the end of an era in which optimization, efficiency and just-in-time delivery were the main drivers of the global outsourcing movement. Instead, global firms are striving to make supply chains more resilient, which entices them to bring manufacturing and storage closer to the consumption markets for their products.
Meanwhile, we’re seeing a political polarization of the world: the war in Ukraine, Russian sanctions and the stress around Taiwan and China are impacting how we think about global supply chains. As a result, international companies are increasingly trying to relocate part of their manufacturing closer to home and to countries outside the Chinese sphere of interest: “China plus one” is the new trend. At the same time, Russia has become a no-go zone. Suddenly, there is a need for all of this outsourcing to go to countries that are geographically and politically closer to Western and European markets. Hungary, as well as the rest of Central Eastern Europe, was already an interesting destination for multinationals, but these supply-chain factors have made it even more so.
Beyond fostering a supportive industrial policy, major grants and tax breaks, Hungary also offers a highly educated workforce, industry-friendly labor laws, political stability and a huge cost advantage. Hungary has a strong value proposition for US companies going into Europe, for European enterprises selling in Europe, and for Korean and Chinese businesses that need to be inside Europe to access that market.
I believe an era of escalating industrialization lies ahead of us in Hungary and that is accelerating the need for space. Hungary can only beat the competition to attract these companies if it is able to provide extremely high quality, green and readily available large industrial and logistics spaces with full infrastructure, next to major population centers. HelloParks, is creating those spaces. But Hungary’s growing popularity with multinationals is not just about manufacturing and logistics, it’s also about brain power and innovation. The wider Futureal Group is seeing many Fortune 500 companies coming here to set up value-added businesses ranging from medical science to financial services, as well as research and development operations. They recognize that there’s a lot of great talent in the country.
The HelloParks sites include ParkCenters with offices, conference rooms, catering and leisure services. The ParkCenters are designed in accordance with the International WELL Building Institute’s Mind and Community standards. The parks are being developed at full capacity: 1.7 million square feet of space had been completed by the end of 2022 that is now 100% occupied. Can you give some examples of firms moving into the parks?
HelloParks is the leader in developments that offer a full service to the companies coming into Hungary from the West or the East. For example, we’ve just signed a second long-term lease with the Chinese electric car and battery company BYD, which is establishing a battery assembly plant, and Samsung has moved substantial logistics operations to us recently.
While our incorporation of WELL building standards is a reflection of our focus on the wellbeing of people working at HelloParks, another key attraction for new tenants is that Futureal Group is spearheading the green transformation of Hungary’s real estate industry. As an illustration, HelloParks has constructed the first logistics buildings in Hungary to meet the exacting sustainability requirements for BREEAM Excellent and Outstanding certification in the new construction category.
HelloParks also provides its tenants with smart solutions to help them reduce their carbon footprints, including expandable solar panels on rooftops, car chargers and an app that allows them to monitor and manage energy consumption. Sustainability is central to all of the Futureal Group’s activities, from its smallest projects to the award-winning Corvin Quarter urban regeneration scheme, Budapest’s largest mixed-use development. Why do you put so much emphasis on environmental impact?
The environment, energy efficiency, carbon emissions and embedded carbon will be major drivers of the real estate industry over the next decade and Futureal intends to be a leader in this. If you’re an international company that needs to meet its sustainability targets, you need really green, future-proofed industrial, warehouse or office buildings. For example, our biggest new project is Marina City in Budapest, an outstanding urban regeneration scheme featuring over 3,000 apartments and 1 million square feet of offices with direct access to the Danube river. In this, we’re going to achieve the highest energy rating for every building and we’re incorporating the latest technology so that the whole project has zero local emissions. That’s the new standard for Futureal Group’s developments.