Tech star Hartmann lines up second Russian real estate crowdfunding punt

Tech star Hartmann lines up second Russian real estate crowdfunding punt
KupiVip.ru founder Oskar Hartmann is back with next Russian crowdfunding venture.
By Jason Corcoran in Moscow March 11, 2016

Oskar Hartmann, the founder of Russia's leading online fashion discount store, is pitching his second crowdfunding real estate investment project following the success of the first.

Hartmann, who set up fashion discounter KupiVip.ru eight years ago, raised $14mn in a month in 2015 to buy the first property in Moscow in the face of a barren market for fundraising.

His Aktivo.ru project allows hundreds or thousands of people to buy a small share in commercial real estate asset and then collect a share of the rent each month. The first investment of the fund, which is regulated by the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) was a residential and retail asset located on Tverskaya, Moscow's main shopping street and key artery leading to the Kremlin.

Hartman said Aktivo.ru's new target is a two-storey grocery hypermarket Victoria located in the suburban town of Dolgoprudny, which is located 20 kilometres north of Moscow.

"This proposal represents an excellent investment opportunity in the market of retail space in the food retail sector, which is the most attractive sector of commercial real estate in Russia," Hartmann said in an e-mail to prospective investors on March 10.

The current rental yield of the business is 11-16% per annum while Victoria is committed to being an anchor tenant till 2029, Hartmann said.

Since the debut of KupiVip.ru, Hartmann launched a string of other sites focusing on e-commerce, including CarPrice.ru to sell cars and ZaOdno.ru, a discount online store for household staples, as well as founding the internet investment fund Fastlane Ventures over five years ago. But his latest venture Aktivo.ru breaks new ground by moving into finance.

The idea is simple: real estate has always been seen as a long-term secure investment.

"I am doing an investment at the moment on Aktivo.ru and would like to invite you to co-invest with me. I built Aktivo.ru as a commercial property crowdfunding platform, which allows successful people to buy shares in large commercial property to build a passive monthly income and achieve financial freedom," Hartmann told investors last year.

Moscow's real estate sector is in a bad way at the moment. Demand for residential housing is expected to fall by 30-40% in 2015, according to VTB Capital, with discounts on the prices on the secondary housing market currently at record highs.

Meanwhile, vacancy rates on retail space have been creeping up from 7.5% at the end of last quarter, while rents have plunged. And vacancy for office space is also at an all-time high: there are one and half times more empty offices in Moscow at the moment than in the depths of the 2008 crash. The bet for any potential investor into Moscow property is that the market has hit bottom and it will be uphill from here.

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