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European real estate sector reacts to Ukraine refugee crisis

The real estate sector’s responses to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the consequent humanitarian emergency have been far-ranging: from providing aid directly to those caught up in the conflict, to playing a role in fulfilling the sanctions now being imposed by governments.

Hospitality and residential groups are also providing emergency accommodation.

While MIPIM organisers RX condemned the action and quickly complied with French government sanctions to rule out Russian attendance at the Cannes show, Netherlands-headquartered logistics developer CTP committed €10 million of aid to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in response to the refugee crisis that is rapidly developing in Ukraine and its neighbouring countries.

CTP has also offered financial support and vacant warehouse space to local relief agencies for emergency supplies at its parks in Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and in the Czech Republic. The company is also offering accommodation to refugees at the Domeq residential project in the Czech city of Brno, and the Marriott Courtyard hotels in Pilsen, Prague and Brno.

Warehouse space offered to aid agencies

Warehouse space has been provided, for a food bank in CTPark Ostrava in the northeast of the Czech Republic, in Biatorbágy, Hungary, and in Bucharest, Romania. CTP said it has more capacity to enable relief organisations to store supplies at its Slovakian and Romanian locations. The company has given financial support to local organisations including People in Need in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

CTP CEO Remon Vos said the company’s network of logistics and industrial parks in Ukraine’s neighbouring countries means it has the physical and financial resources to deliver support at scale to where it is urgently needed.

“We are supporting UNHCR’s important work in this catastrophic humanitarian crisis and our thoughts go out to the many innocent people affected,” Vos said. “The private sector plays a key role in stepping up and helping refugees in this emergency, and at CTP we are proud to play a part in supporting UNHCR’s response.”

Hotel real estate specialist PKF hospitality group has launched Hospitality Helps  – on LinkedIn #HospitalityHelps – a campaign calling on hotels to host refugees from Ukraine.

Hotels identify spare capacity for fleeing families

The group’s global CEO Michael Widmann said: “We can help in a very practical way by providing accommodation. We work in the hospitality industry and have contacts with many operators and owners of hotels – so we can do something.”

As well as the LinkedIn site, an online booking platform (www.hospitalitysupport.org) is soon to be activated enabling hotel owners and operators to state their capacity to accommodate refugee families.

Zurich-based Peach Property Group which invests in residential for rent in Germany, is also supporting local authorities in providing accommodation for Ukrainian refugees.

CEO Thomas Wolfensberger said: “As the owner of a large residential portfolio in Germany, we want to make a contribution in the current crisis so that the displaced people can quickly be provided with safe accommodation.”

Wolfensberger said: “We can draw on our experience in dealing with similar situations from previous years. Our teams at the Peach Points are well prepared for the important tasks involved in accommodating refugees.”

The company said it can draw on its experience from the refugee crisis in 2015 and can quickly reactivate processes that have been tried and tested as well as providing on-site support with official paperwork.

MIPIM rules out Russian Pavilion

In ruling out a welcome for a Russian real estate delegation to MIPIM organiser RX said: “RX strongly condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine. RX stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, particularly with our employees around the world who have family and friends in Ukraine. 

“We also stand in solidarity with our Russian employees working in challenging conditions.  In a rapidly changing environment, RX is following government sanctions and policies in each territory where we operate.

“There is no Russian Pavilion at MIPIM,” the statement read.

While Swedish-owned Inter Ikea Group has temporarily paused operations in Russia, including manufacturing, and all export and import in and out of Russia and Belarus, Swedish government pension agency AP7 stated that it has decided to sell all shares in companies domiciled in Russia due to the invasion. AP7 said its decision to liquidate Russian shares is based on the Swedish government’s finding that the invasion is a violation of international law and the European security order.

Although Ikea parent Ingka Group has paused IKEA Retail operations in Russia, its Mega shopping centres will continue to operate. Nevertheless, the interruption will have a direct impact on 15,000 IKEA workers. The company said that “the ambitions of the company groups are long term and we have secured employment and income stability for the immediate future and provide support to them and their families in the region.”

Meanwhile, the IKEA Foundation, itself funded by Ingka Foundation, is to make an immediate €20 million donation for humanitarian assistance to those forcibly displaced by the conflict. Additionally, both Inter IKEA Group and Ingka Group have granted €10 million each to provide support in terms of products and other assistance to UNHCR, Save the Children and other organisations working locally.

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