Charagionis hooks up with Fortress, offloads 90 mln euro loan-Chairman

Charagionis hooks up with Fortress

US investment fund Fortress is in advanced talks to take on a 90 million euro bank loan held by real estate company Charagionis, making it the latest foreign fund to try its hand at the country's property market, the Greek company's chairman Theodore Charagionis told Friday.

Charagionis said that Fortress is looking at buying the loan owed to Piraeus Bank in a move that will give his company some breathing space amidst Greece's eight year economic downturn that sent rentals plunging and key tenants to bankruptcy.

With some 60 properties in its portfolio, Charagionis has been renegotiating its total bank debt of about 170 million euros.

It recently completed the restructuring of 90 million euros of loans owed to Alpha and Eurobank and was in the process of completing this procedure with Piraeus Bank when Fortress stepped in and offered to buy it, said the company's chairman.

"This gives us some time to hold onto our buildings and wait for better days in order to make some decisions," he said.

Fortress will not get involved in the management of the Greek company, added Charagionis.

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The deal, expected to be completed in coming months, marks the latest foreign fund to try its luck in Greece's heavily battered real estate market where prices have plummeted by some 45%.

Other funds to have recently gained exposure to Greek real estate by investing in a local real estate investment company include Fairfax Financial Holdings and Varde Partners.