Dolphin's Cyprus holiday home sales down 37%

UK buyers are especially tempering their demand for holiday properties on the Med island since the credit crunch.

Sales of homes by Aristo Developers in Cyprus have fallen 37 percent compared to 2007, according to private equity real estate firm Dolphin Capital Partners.

Dolphin, whose London-listed vehicle took Aristo private for €128 million ($189 million) last year, said home sales in the six months to June 30 were down to €79 million. The decline came despite average prices of the properties rising by up to 25 percent per square meter.

The weaker sales have been blamed on a slowdown in demand by UK buyers who have been big acquirers of holiday homes in the sunny Mediterranean clime.

Flagship assets include Venus Rock, a 1,000 hectare site that is one of the largest sea-front residential resort developments in Europe.

Despite the fall, Dolphin said that as a firm it was still well positioned to continue on the business plan involving maximizing premium land assets.

It has been selling investments earlier than first planned, including its entire stake in Tsilvi in Greece for €8.4 million at a 23 percent premium to net asset value as at June resulting in a 3.5 times return. It has also been slowing its investment plan.

The firm has €2.35 billion of total assets financed at 14 percent non recourse gearing.

Miltos Kambourides, founder and managing partner of Dolphin Capital Partners, said in a statement that its “conservative approach” to leverage had “largely insulated” the company from the “increasing challenges facing the real estate sector around the world.”

“We have deliberately chosen to slow our investment pace and focus instead on maximizing value across our existing portfolio,” he added.

Kambourides and Pierre Charalambides established Dolphin in 2004 after leaving Soros Real Estate Partners.