Equis heads East to open Budapest office

Chicago-based Equis Corp. has recently opened an office in Budapest, Hungary. Valter Kalaus, a member of the 1988 Hungarian Olympic swim team, has been named vice president and will oversee the new office.

According to the company, the new office was necessary because its clients were rapidly expanding operations in Eastern Europe to take advantage of lower labor costs. Also, the demand for industrial and office space has grown, and companies are seeking real estate consulting firms that can provide multiple services and transactions, according to company officials.

Equis has 28 offices in the United States, and offices in London, Singapore and Juarez, Mexico. The company plans to open an office in Sao Paulo, Brazil, later this year.

Insignia Financial acquires Brooke's Indian operations

Insignia Financial Group Inc., New York, has acquired the Indian operations of Brooke International, a Hong Kong-based commercial real estate services company. In December 2000, Insignia purchased Brooke International's operations in Hong Kong, China and Thailand, which are now operating as Insignia Brooke.

The Indian operations include offices in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), New Delhi, Hyderbad and Bangladore. The offices employ a total of 43 people.

Simon Robinson, former director of international business at Insignia, has been promoted to CEO of Insignia Brooke and will relocate to Hong Kong, where he will oversee the day-to-day operations of the company, including the operations in India.

U.S. urban designer to create Beijing's new CBD

Chinese officials awarded the urban design and architecture firm of Johnson Fain Partners, Los Angeles, a $200,000 first prize for its plan to create Beijing's new CBD. The Chinese officials invited eight internationally recognized design firms to submit plans for a 4-square-kilometer section near Tiananmen Square.

Johnson Fain Partners' plans encompass more than 100 million sq. ft. of mixed-use development, including office, residential and retail space. The CBD will have more than 500 buildings anchored by a central “city within a city,” and will feature a 140-story skyscraper. Construction details will be announced after the plans clear zoning and planning boards in Beijing. The city will include the plans in its bid for the 2008 Olympics.

Johnson Fain Partners also has worked on the 300-acre Mission Bay residential and business development in San Francisco, the 1.5 million sq. ft. Capitol Area East End Complex mixed-use office development in Sacramento, Calif., and Sunflower City, a 990-acre, mixed-use business district in Bangkok, Thailand.

JLL arranges $82 million Asian hotel divestment program

Hotel Plaza Ltd., a subsidiary of United Overseas Land Ltd., Singapore, has recently acquired Singapore-based CapitaLand's joint venture and loan interests in three Southeast Asian hotel assets. Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, Sydney, Australia, was the exclusive property advisor, helping both companies find a deal they could agree upon.

The portfolio was purchased for $82 million and is comprised of the 359-room Yangon Equatorial in Myanmar; the 322-room Mertius Westlake in Hanoi, Vietnam; and the 328-room Sheraton Suzhou in China. The sale is part of CapitaLand's strategy to divest non-core assets to reduce debt and improve return on equity.

Recently, Hotel Plaza has been concentrating in Australia by acquiring four hotels totaling 1,404 rooms. The hotels are the Parkroyal Darling Harbour, Parkroyal Parrmatta, Landmark Parkroyal and the Sheraton Perth Hotel. It also has acquired hotels in Kuala Lumpur and Penang, Malaysia, and opened its flagship, the Plaza Parkroyal, in Singapore.

Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels also recently released its Digest Europe, a report that stated European hotel investment activity surged by more than 20% over 1999 figures in 2000 to reach $2.06 billion.

According to the report, hotel activity was concentrated in Continental European markets, which experienced a 96% increase in investment activity in 2000 to $1.5 billion, representing almost 75% of total European transaction volume.

Prague, the Czech Republic, was the top-performing market with room yields increasing 28.2% over last year's figures to $80.87, boosted by a strong conference and convention year. Amsterdam, Netherlands, had the highest average occupancy rate of 82.6%, with a 23.3% increase in room yield over 1999 figures.

e-mail international news to mhavich@intertec.com