31 May 2015

Property group Africa Israel moves to Q1 profit, optimistic on Russia

  • Reuters

May 31 Israeli real estate developer Africa Israel Investments moved to a profit in the first quarter on the heels of improvement in all its business activities.

The company said on Sunday it earned 9 million shekels ($2.3 million) in the quarter, compared with a 0.5 million shekel loss a year earlier.

Africa Israel, controlled by billionaire diamond dealer Lev Leviev, said income from rent and operation of properties was largely flat at 138 million shekels.

It bounced back from an 851 million shekel loss in the final three months of 2014 due to a revaluation of investment property at its Russian unit, AFI Development.

Chief executive Avraham Novogrocki noted that AFI made a $6 million profit in the first quarter despite a challenging Russian economy. It made profit of $24 million in the first quarter of 2014.

"In light of a certain degree of stabilisation of the economic Russian economic situation, in the coming year we will continue operating with cautious optimism in this sector and examine our next steps depending on events," he said without elaborating.

Still, Africa Israel said it was able to maintain a high level of visitors - 60,000 a day - to its AFIMall in Moscow while its occupancy rate was 83 percent. At the same time, the company has already sold 627 units in a residential housing project in Russia and during this year, it will start construction of a second phase, it said.

In Israel, its residential housing unit posted growth of 35 percent for a profit of 12 million shekels. Profit at construction and infrastructure subsidiary Danya Cebus grew 34 percent to 19 million shekels and income at its Africa Israel Properties, which builds offices and other commercial buildings, doubled to 49 million shekels.

($1 = 3.8660 shekels) (Reporting by Steven Scheer; editing by Ralph Boulton)

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