The developer decided to freeze investments at the three commercial centers announced last year in Bucharest, Craiova and Ploiesti on lack of financing. Construction works were started only at the complex in Craiova, but were stopped soon afterwards, despite the fact that 60-70 percent of the areas were booked. The other two projects were delayed.

Banks are willing to finance less than 60 percent of the necessary investment to open a commercial center in the current economic conditions, according to Portela. He deems banks would have offered up to 80 percent in normal economic conditions.

Sonae Sierra planned to have the commercial center in Bucharest ready in April 2011. As many as 600 million euros were put aside for the investment.

Sonae Sierra broke into the Romanian market purchasing the River Plaza Mall commercial center in Ramnicu-Valcea, Southern Romania, for 42 million euros.

It owns 47 commercial centers in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany, Greece and Brazil. Spain's biggest shopping-center developer Sonae-SGPS and Grosvenor Group Ltd., a real estate company owned by the Duke of Westminster, are the two shareholders of Sonae Sierra.