LEPTOS GROUP: George and Pantelis Leptos talk to Forbes

July 1, 2024

George and Pantelis Leptos featured in Forbes Cyprus Magazine following an interview conducted by Chrysanthos Manoli. Read the full interview below:


Today, the soul of Leptos Group, the brothers George and Pantelis Leptos, respond to Forbes Cyprus’s questions about the completion of their works, including the flagship Limassol Blu Marine project and others that are ongoing or under planning.

Leptos Group has been and remains synonymous with development. In the fields of real estate, the hotel industry, and the operation of medical and university units and services, the Group’s developments now prominently feature large, high-rise, luxury buildings—residential and office— in Limassol and Paphos, with excellent levels of accommodation, work, and wellness services that attract significant investments from European, Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern countries. At the same time, ambitious developments continue in Greece, from Athens to Crete and other islands.

Today, the soul of Leptos Group, the brothers George and Pantelis Leptos, answer Forbes Cyprus’s questions about the intensive completion works of all the units that comprise the flagship project Limassol Blu Marine, the unrelenting investor interest in residential and office units, the new developments being promoted in Limassol, Paphos, and Greece, the dynamic and growing participation of the Group in the fields of medical and educational units, and the intensive effort for green transition through energy-saving developments and the use or production of green electricity from photovoltaic parks.

Early this year, your Group announced that spaces in the Zeus Tower Signature Collection at Limassol Blu Marine were put up for sale. Did you get the response you were hoping for?

The Limassol Blu Marine is at the centre of activities in the area, which we believe will evolve into a new European Riviera. It consists of four buildings, two residential and two offices, with high-level services and facilities such as a 50-metre-long outdoor pool with a sea view, a 25-meter indoor pool with a large spa, a high-ceilinged gym with a sea view, and many more amenities.

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Regarding the Poseidon Tower, the last update we had a few months ago indicated that sales were at 75% of available spaces. Has there been progress since then?

We are pleased to announce that we have completely sold the first office building and about 85% of the first residential tower, with several sales/reservations in the second tower. We believe the market will continue to embrace our project.

Are the majority of buyers foreign investors, or are there Cypriots as well? Which countries show the greatest interest today?

While there are Cypriot buyers, the majority of investors are foreigners from Europe, the Middle East, Israel, Ukraine, Russia, and Southeast Asia.

We understand that both Limassol Blu Marine and Limassol Del Mar provide many services within their infrastructures to owners and residents after purchase. Will your Group’s management and care of these projects be continuous and permanent—and costly?

Like Limassol Del Mar, our investors choose Limassol Blu Marine because they seek the best, and therefore expect high levels of service. After all, the level of offered services defines the quality of the project. Owners, through their management committee, have the right to request additional or fewer services from the manager who handles operations on their behalf.

Upcoming developments

Are there other projects of this category in progress by the Leptos Group? Can we have some timelines for your new developments?

Our Group has developed over 350 projects and continues its development with many pioneering projects such as Coral Seas, Adonis Beach Villas, and Armonia Beach Villas in Paphos. These are also seaside residential villa projects aimed at clients with exceptionally high demands. Regarding high-rises, apart from the Zeus building of the Limassol Blu Marine project, we are planning the construction of the last building of the project, the Oceanus Tower. This is an exclusive office development on the southeastern side of the project, closer to the Limassol Marina Beach.

Leptos Group in the Hotel Industry

In terms of the traditional tourism sector and hospitality in general, what is the current position of your Group’s companies? Which hotels do you operate, and what plans do you have for the near or medium-term future?

This year, after the COVID period, all our tourist units are operational, including the Coral Beach Hotel & Resort, Thalassa in Coral Bay, Paphos Gardens, and Basilica Resort in Paphos, as well as our Leptos Panorama Hotel in Chania.

Soon, we are preparing to manage a new small tourist unit with 25 rooms adjacent to the Panorama Hotel and we are also awaiting the license for the construction of the expansion and final phase of the Coral Beach Hotel & Resort.

How are your investments in Greece going, particularly in the tourism sector or other residential developments? We understand that Greece’s attractiveness for tourism and investments is continually increasing. How do you evaluate the country’s and its economy’s progress today? And what other plans do you have for Greece?

The Group’s decision in 1998 to reactivate in Greece and expand its activities there was correct. Today, the Group is developing projects in unique seaside locations in Paros, Santorini, but mainly in Crete in the Chania area, where the Group’s base is, and it is also planning the development of the large Costa Nopia project, a large integrated development in a unique seaside plot of 1,200,000 sq. m.

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In which other countries are you strengthening your investment presence as a Group?

Our Group is known for its extroversion. It has established and operates offices in many countries and major cities such as China, India, Dubai, Egypt, London, and Athens. Through our offices abroad, we attract investors for our residential and tourist units in Cyprus and Greece.

Residential ownership and housing stock

In Cyprus, what is your company’s contribution to strengthening the housing stock for residents’ housing needs? There is widespread discussion about limited supply and high demand driving up prices and limiting homeownership opportunities. Do you believe these conditions will change soon?

What determines the price of any product is supply and demand. Unfortunately, with the 2013 crisis, development companies stopped building projects and greatly limited their activities. When demand returned, there was no stock of completed homes. This, along with today’s increased costs, has led to higher home sale prices. We believe that the only way to reduce prices is to increase supply, which requires a collective effort from all stakeholders, including development companies, financial institutions, and the state.

Neapolis Smart EcoCity update

To what extent has the strategic planning for Neapolis been completed? Are there plans or projects underway for further development of this city?

Due to the large size (890,000 sq. m.) and variety of uses of the project (University, Hospital, office park, residential developments, cultural and other projects), and consequently the gradual development time of the project, the strategic planning of Neapolis Smart EcoCity is updated and adapted to the current data and market conditions. Therefore, special emphasis has been placed on creating modern office developments that, combined with the project’s residential developments, can serve the increased interest and demand from foreign companies wishing to operate in Cyprus.

Healthcare sector expansion

The healthcare sector has seen rapid growth in recent years. Are you interested in expanding your inpatient healthcare services?

The Group is already active in the healthcare sector with the 20-year operation of the private Iasis Hospital in Paphos, where we continually upgrade staff, equipment, technology, and facilities. The Group’s medical activities will be transferred to the Neapolis Smart EcoCity project, where a new, larger hospital with many related healthcare services and facilities is planned.

Additionally, the Group founded and has operated Neapolis University Paphos since 2010, the first university in Paphos, providing corresponding academic, cultural, and economic benefits to Paphos and Cyprus in general. Today, Neapolis University offers 38 undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral programmes to about 3,600 students annually, and it continually increases its study programs, technological upgrades, and expanded research activities.

Like the medical activities, the University’s facilities will gradually be transferred to the designated 100,000 sq. m. campus within the Neapolis project.

Sustainability and Green Energy

To what extent have your companies used technological solutions offered for green developments and energy saving? Are you broadly interested in the energy production sector?

Reducing energy costs and transitioning to more environmentally friendly solutions is a significant pillar of our planning. In this context, we have proceeded and continued with the installation of less energy-consuming machines/equipment, the purchase of electricity from photovoltaic parks, etc. We are also considering energy production to serve our projects.

The recent announcement of a subsidy scheme for energy saving for the first time in large enterprises is relevant to this issue.

The problem is that minimum overall reduction indices for building consumption are set as a prerequisite, which, concerning existing buildings, requires large building changes, significantly increasing investment costs. Our opinion is that the subsidy should be given per category of a measure taken, with a minimum reduction index for the specific measure (e.g., replacing chillers with less energy-consuming ones).

Cyprus will remain an attractive destination

Are you optimistic about the Cypriot economy’s trajectory in the coming years? Will satisfactory growth rates be maintained, and will consumption of all kinds remain at good levels for the business world?

The Cypriot economy records higher growth rates each year than the European Union, and we believe this will continue. Cyprus still has its comparative advantages. It is an island with culture, a member of the European Union and the Eurozone, with a high quality of life and healthcare, democratic/liberal governance, many private schools, etc. All these, along with the good climate and various incentives periodically announced by the Government to attract foreign investments, have made it an attractive destination for foreign investors who want to invest or relocate to Cyprus.

We believe that Cyprus will continue to be attractive, and despite any temporary effects due to the war in Ukraine and Palestine, the Cypriot economy will continue to grow and have higher growth rates than the European average, as we have observed in recent years.

What do you expect from the tax reform under study?

The tax reform should consider the current conditions and the changing—mainly due to external factors—economic environment with the aim of increasing competitiveness, enhancing growth, and promoting sectors considered to have prospects.

Additionally, the reform should rationalise the different tax treatments between Cypriot companies and companies operating in Cyprus whose shareholders are not Cypriot tax residents to eliminate today’s unfair competition.

The main suggestions are the abolition of deemed dividend distribution, reduction of the dividend tax rate, possibly combined with some increase in corporate tax, reduction of capital gains tax, permanent reduction of transfer fees by 50%, extension of the tax loss carryforward period, countermeasures for the green transition, etc.

Also, for further upgrading and developing the highly promising tertiary education and healthcare service sectors, VAT should not be imposed (or should be refunded) for the creation of facilities, purchase/upgrade of equipment, etc.

Original Source: Philenews

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