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WARSAW, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Poland's richest man Jan Kulczyk and New York real estate mogul Larry Silverstein have launched a fund that plans to invest up to 1.5 billion euros ($1.9 billion) in Central and Eastern European commercial property.
While the region's real estate markets were hit hard by the second wave of the financial crisis and transaction volumes slumped by about 40 percent in the first half of 2012, Poland and the Czech Republic have remained relatively resilient.
KSP Real Estate Investment Management, part of a joint venture called Kulczyk Silverstein Properties (KSP), initially plans to raise 200-300 million euros to invest in property in the largest Polish and Czech cities, its representatives said on Monday.
"This is a good time to be a buyer," said Otis Spencer, co-manager of the new fund, adding that the yield on good-quality offices in Warsaw is about 6.5 percent.
Spencer said that the Polish and Czech real estate markets offer opportunities outside the countries' capital cities, unlike other countries in the region, whose markets still need time to recover after overinvestment in the past few years.
He expects Romania, the second-largest country in the region, to become more attractive in 24 to 36 months.
KSP's project, now in a pre-marketing phase, targets insurers, pension funds and endowments. If successful, KSP will attempt to raise a total of 750 million euros over the next five years and match the figure with debt it will take on.
The Kulczyk-Silverstein joint venture currently owns and manages several office buildings in Warsaw.
It is co-controlled by Kulczyk Investments, a vehicle targeting emerging markets, and Silverstein Properties, a New York-based real estate group that is redeveloping the World Trade Centre, among others.