Swimming to Cyprus

After purchasing the largest private landowner in Cyprus, Dolphin Capital Partners is hoping to turn a 1,000-hectare beachfront site into one of Europe's leading resorts.

Last month, Dolphin Capital Partners acquired Aristo Developers, the largest private landowner in Cyprus, in a transaction valued at €438 million ($570 million). And the private equity real estate firm is already moving quickly to establish one of Aristo's key land holdings, Venus Park, into a resort complex that it hopes will rival such leading European holiday destinations as Spain's La Manga Club.

Venus Park is currently a 1,000-hectare site of agricultural land sloping up from the Cyprus beachfront. Under the previous owner, 10 percent of the project has been developed, and Dolphin plans to keep the management team intact to finish the development. When completed, it will have more than 3,000 residential units, a five-star hotel, three golf courses, beachfront entertainment, retail and commercial units, a marina and sports facilities.

“We hope to make this into one of the most successful and well-known developments in the whole of Europe,” said Dolphin partner Pierre Charalambides.

The acquisition dramatically accelerates Dolphin's land acquisition strategy in Southeast Europe, doubling the number of sites under its ownership. It also means Dolphin will have invested substantially all of its remaining €250 million of equity capital in Cyprus, Southeast Europe's most mature holiday home market. British, Russians, Cypriots, Scandinavians and other Europeans have been buying second homes on the island for years.

Dolphin's acquisition of Aristo is being made through its publicly listed Southeast Europe development firm, Dolphin Capital Investors, which received initial backing from Fortress Investment Group. Dolphin Capital Investors was founded in the summer of 2005 with €5 million of seed capital. Its shares have almost doubled since it listed on London's Alternative Investment Market 18 months ago. Today, the firm's market capitalization of £467 million makes it one of the largest companies on the junior stock exchange.

Dolphin Capital Partners was founded in 2004 by Charalambides and Miltos Kambourides, formerly of Soros Real Estate Partners.