The number of transactions increased in the second half of 2009 following a very quiet first half of the year, indicating market improvement that is expected to continue through 2010. The most active players on the market were companies from the financial sector, representing almost 25% of total demand, followed by public institutions and the service industry, with approximately 20% each.

“Compared to previous years, two novelties could be noticed when analyzing the distribution of demand based on activity domains: the appearance of a new category among the top 5 players represented by public bodies, as well as the significant decrease of requests coming from automotive firms”, said Horatiu Florescu (photo), chairman & CEO The Advisers/Knight Frank.

The largest transaction of 2009 was the 15,000 sq m lease signed by Banca Romaneasca, subsidiary of National Bank of Greece, in BOC, a newly delivered building located near the Pipera subway station. The office building is near Dimitrie Pompeiu Boulevard and was acquired by RREEF Real Estate, member of Deutche Bank group.

Second on the list is Bucharest’s General City Hall that leased 12,556 sqm in Riverside Tower, located on Splaiul Independentei near the subway station Grozavesti. The project was developed by the Greek-based Lliotomi Group and acquired afterwards by the Austrian investment fund Immoeast.

The national electricity company Transelectrica takes the third spot, after it leased 6,730 sqm in Platinum Center developed by Israeli Dagesh Group near Unirii square.

The fourth largest office space transaction in 2009 was the 6,235 sqm lease signed by Bucharest District 1 City Hall in a building on Bucharest-Ploiesti national road , while Publimedia, the publishing arm of MediaPro leased 6,000sqm in a building located on Aurel Vlaicu Street, at No. 62-64.

Only five transactions involved areas larger than 5,000 sqm. Rounding up the top 10 are: a pharmaceutical company (3,500 sqm in Izvor 80), market research companies GfK (3,000 sqm in BOC Tower), Romexterra Bank (2,700sqm in Elefterie 18), telecom company Ericsson (2,300 in West Gate Park), and Brittish American Tobacco (2,100 in Baneasa Business Park).

The class A office rents averaged €10-12/sqm in peripheral areas, €14-16/sqm in semi-central areas and €16-18/sqm in central areas, to which is added the service charges for a class A office space of around €3.5-5/sqm/month.

“Along with rent decreases, several types of incentives were granted by landlords to attract new tenants and to keep current ones. The most common incentives were rent free periods, fit-out contributions, break-out options or shorter contract terms. There were even cases where the new landlord paid penalties on a tenant’s existing contract so that tenants could exit their existing agreements and relocate to new buildings”, said Florescu.

Last year, The Advisers/Knight Frank advised in four of the ten transactions: Publimedia, pharmaceutical company, Romexterra Bank and British American Tobacco (BAT) totaling 14,300 sqm