MAGNIFICENT IN FORM

Ecuador 2012 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Sergio R. Torassa, CEO of Pronobis, on the success of the company's projects and its role in local urbanization projects.

Sergio R. Torassa
BIOGRAPHY
After joining Pronobis in early 2012, Sergio R. Torassa was appointed CEO at the end of February. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in economics and an MBA from the IESE Business School. He has over 25 years experience in the financial and real estate sectors, gained while serving in various senior management positions at institutions such as BBVA , Banca Catalana, and La Caixa in Spain. In Ecuador, he held positions including CEO of Banco Amazonas, Director of the Association of Private Banks of Ecuador, and Director of the Malecón 2000 Foundation. He is also Director of the Guayaquil Stock Exchange and a professor at the IDE Business School.

What are your expectations in terms of growth and turnover for Pronobis in 2012?

The budget framework approved by the board includes investments of $70 million over 2012 alone. We have 12 major projects underway in Guayaquil, Manta, and Machala, which enable us to have a very diversified portfolio, including housing, offices, industry complexes, shopping centers, and tourism facilities—all in line with current market requirements. The Puerta del Sol, Torre del Sol in Machala, and the riverfront suites in Guayaquil are some of the unique and exclusive projects we are finishing. These are projects that we are very proud of, as they are magnificent in form, as well as sustainable and environmentally friendly. Finally, we are also working on a three-year strategic plan to optimize the capabilities and operational models of our company to make it more efficient and innovative.

What is Pronobis' expansion strategy?

We are strongly focused on development projects in Quito, where we are working on the Ciudad del Sol, an initiative that includes public-private partnerships and is intended to boost the Ecuadorean Social Security Institute's (IESS) portfolio. It is a mega project of over 25,000 sqm and $250 million in value that includes six towers; one will be a hotel, another will be dedicated to provide health services, three housing blocks, and one building for offices.

What is the state of the sector?

The dollarization of the economy served as a great catalyst for both supply and demand in the real estate sector. Lower inflation and interest rates, and a greater availability of credit to finance medium- and long-term housing generated a favorable situation for the construction sector. Buyers with growing purchasing power and higher demand are becoming more common. The breadth of choice available in the market is very broad and the bargaining power is gradually shifting from the developer to the buyer. This is a sign that points to a mature market, which forces us to be innovative in our product offering, while remaining very efficient in our design and construction processes.

How would you assess the urban renewal project Guayaquil is implementing?

It is a complete success, as it has been recognized both nationally and internationally. It has positively contributed to the development of tourism and the resurgence of services associated with this industry; only in 2011, the number of foreigners visiting our city grew around 7% as compared to 2010, exceeding 300,000. Thanks to the actions implemented within the urban renewal plan, Guayaquil is today a benchmark in the region not only in tourism but also in security, as well as in the collection and disposal of solid waste, all very important aspects in the process of the integral transformation of a city.

What is your general outlook for the construction sector for 2012?

The construction sector grew 6.7% in 2010 and 14% in 2011. Although 2012 brings lower growth rate expectations, we believe that we will close the year with growth above 5.5%.