Bucharest Agricultural University Could Become Richer than Oxford

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Bucharest Agricultural University Could Become Richer than Oxford

A partnership with the Baneasa real estate project in the northern area of Bucharest will bring the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine (USAMVB) a fortune worth 1.5-2 billion euros, reported zf.ro.

The Baneasa project, one of the biggest real estate developments in Central and Eastern Europe, will reach a 3-4 billion euro value when finished, being scheduled for completion in 8 years from now. USAMVB owns 49.88% of Baneasa Investments' capital, the developer of the project. Following the partnership with a group of companies controlled by businessmen Puiu Popoviciu and Radu Dimofte, USAMVB has now become one of the richest universities in Europe.

"When all the assets of the Baneasa project are completed, we will have a 1.5-2 billion euro fortune, considering we own half the project. We've got about 3.3 million dollars from this project so far and considering 2008 will be the first year when the Baneasa project turns a profit, the revenues from this project will increase," Ioan Alecu, USAMVB rector, told ZF.

USAMVB will receive a further 3-4 million euros next year, which equals 49.88% of the profit, according to Alecu's estimates. USAMVB currently gets 560,700 dollars every year, as stipulated in the charter of Baneasa Investments.

The Baneasa project began in 2000, when Ioan Alecu became USAMVB rector and the land on which the former Baneasa farm was located was given back to the University by Law 1/2000. Baneasa will be developed as a partnership between two of the most powerful real estate developers on the market - Puiu Popoviciu and Radu Dimofte, who is also one of the most discreet businessmen on the domestic market. The two businessmen own, along with others, the Howard Johnson Grand Plaza, the Best Western Parc and Turist hotels in Bucharest.

The partnership between USAMVB and the group run by Puiu Popoviciu was formed after several months of talks. "We got all sorts of offers for this project, but the most complete came from Puiu Popoviciu, the son of veterinary professor Popoviciu from the Agricultural University. We had several talks with Popoviciu and sketched out the idea of building a satellite town to Bucharest," Alecu says. Under the contract signed for the development of the project, the stake of the university cannot be reduced, nor can any decisions be made without 51% of the votes. USAMVB is managing its own revenues in the Baneasa project without the involvement of the Education Ministry.

The real estate project covers 221 hectares, 50 hectares of which account for a green area, thus increasing the surface area of Bucharest by 1%. The investment in the Baneasa project could reach 1.5 -1.8 billion euros by 2015, considering Baneasa Investments shareholders have decided to increase the number of homes from 3,000 to 5,000 and to build more office space, from 160,000 square metres to 215,000 square metres.

"The idea of developing a real estate project in Baneasa came after we became the owners of the land of the former Baneasa farm as a result of Law 1/2000 being enforced. At that time in 2000, we were penniless and in a time of need," says Alecu.

The partnership of USAMVB and the group run by Popoviciu and Dimofte has been challenged since 2000, yet the accusations have no merit, says Alecu, because the land in Baneasa was neither part of the public nor of the private domain of the state.

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