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Kazakhstan 2014 | EXECUTIVE GUIDE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Francisco Parrilla, CEO of Chagala Group, on partnerships, the group's main targets, and the real estate sector.

Francisco Parrilla
BIOGRAPHY
Francisco Parrilla started his professional career as a Design Engineer for Arup in London in 1997, moving to Russia in 1998 to develop his experience on project and site management in the international field. In 1999, he moved to Arup’s Spanish office, where he worked for three years in Spain and South Africa in different positions. In 2002, he joined Turner & Townsend. During this period, he regularly lived and visited Africa and Asia. He joined European Future Group in 2007 as the Real Estate Development Director for Romania. He then joined Chagala Group.

How important is the partnership with ADM Capital for your future strategy?

For us, ADM Capital is key to our future growth plans as our joint venture allows us to invest where we previous might not have been able to due to the availability of funds. We believe that working with ADM Capital allows us to develop our assets and future strategic infrastructure projects that will improve the value of our portfolio. In terms of our future, I think it is a continuous partnership built for the long term. We are operators and they are money managers, which means that there is a beneficial synergy at work here.

What is your real estate market focus in Kazakhstan?

To date, the vast majority of our investment has been in Atyrau as a large part of our revenues is generated by our assets there. Recently, we have been focused on improving the quality of our assets and the lives of our guests and tenants in Atyrau, and by doing so the lives of people living there in general. With our current development plans for quality apartments, leisure, and recreational facilities, I think we will more than accomplish our goals there. In Aktau, our business today is not significantly related to the oil and gas business. We do, however, believe that Aktau will experience significant growth once the offshore oil industry begins to expand, and those properly invested locally will reap the benefits of that investment. We have a significant land bank that is centrally located, and a well thought out development plan that should allow us to realize our potential there.

Has there been growth and development in all of the cities you work in?

Our business in Aksai has been slow for the past three years as a result of the difficulties at Karachaganak. Hopefully, this situation will improve as the future investment plan there comes together. Bautino is a small market with one large client, which we have a long, successful working history with. I really do not see that market expanding until such time as the Kashagan offshore project enters its next expansion phase, and that could be a few years yet. In Aktau, our business has improved despite the slowdown in offshore oil projects that were supposed to fuel growth there. I think that in time that will change, but again much depends on the offshore component. We have never really attacked Almaty as a market as the city seems to focus mostly on five-star luxury hotels, and that is not a business that Chagala excels at. Yet, we are always looking for viable hotel and office space projects here, so in time that situation may change.

What movements do you foresee in the real estate sector over the next five years?

It all depends on what happens with the financing banks—Halyk, BTA, ATF, Kazcommertsbank, and so on. Once this becomes clear, the market will become clear as well. At the moment, Almaty and Astana are booming. In addition, Aktau is a hugely underserved market; I don't know why people don't invest more there. People are clamoring for good housing, but it seems that nobody wants to provide it. The demographics are stable, rendering it a good a place to invest. If you sell a quality product then you should reap the benefits. In Aksai, it all depends on what happens with Karachaganak, but based on history and the current situation I could see the situation not improving for another decade. Nobody really knows for sure, and I hope that I am wrong.