Changes in Media Image of Leading Developers in the Past 5 Years

Changes in Media Image of Leading Developers in the Past 5 Years
10/15/2014
Jan Jüptner, Ph.D.

The analysis monitors how, in what forms and with what feedback the leading developers active on the Czech market have been covered by media in the past five years. The analysis shows the importance of the real-estate crisis for media coverage of developer-related topics in the years 2009 and 2010.

Orco has been themost frequently mentioned developer by media, especially thanks to the fact that shares of the company are traded by the Prague Stock Exchange, which represents 70 percent of its media coverage. Media coverage of Orco has also been determined by the relationships of the owners: Radovan Vitek is trying to push through against British and American hedge funds and the founder of the company Jean-Francois Otto as now he is the biggest stakeholder with a 30-percent stake. Another important reason has been the chronic debts and context of the financial crisis, which Orco has been trying to get from.

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Orco, whose lead in media coverage has been decreasing over years, is followed by three companies including Finep, Ekospol, and Central Group, the media coverage of which in the past five years has brought a total of 4,000 stories (including agency coverage). While Finep and Central Group have seen a declining tendency from this point of view, Ekospol has had increasing media coverage and, at least since the end of 2011, it has established itself as the media leader of the segment if we omit the somewhat misleading media coverage of Orco generated by stock exchange news by CTK agency and a group of websites around it. All three above-mentioned companies were often mentioned in the second quarter of 2009 when prices of apartments began to decrease due to the pressure caused by the financial crisis.

Context in which leading developers have been written about

Ekospol attracted media attention among others at the beginning of 2012 thanks to its analyses of the real-estate market as well as its good revenues and namely at the end of the past year when it successfully presented its projects and its director, Evzen Korec, commented on various (not just property-related) questions.

Finep received media attention especially in 2009 in the context of prices of apartments and development of Zapadni mesto (City West) when its media coverage began to become unstable. Central Group attracted media attention in the second quarter of 2010 in a little unusual context – as the owner of the contest Miss CR (which merged with Czech Miss). It managed to do so also at turn of 2010 and 2011 when the police arrested five of its managers including the director Ales Novotny because of suspicions of tax avoidance and in the spring as prices of apartments were discussed a lot with respect to the change in VAT. Central Group managed to get in front of Ekospol (which had been dominant in the previous years) in the third quarter of 2013 when its ex-director heard a sentence of 8.5 years in prison. It was without a doubt an unwanted media triumph.

Almost 3,000 stories have mentioned also Sekyra Group in the past five years. It got into media focus especially in the first half of 2010, but even in this case it was unwanted media coverage. Then media covered not only Rohansky ostrov and sport activities (Sekyra Group Cup) but also links of Ludek Sekyra to the former head of Prague criminal scene Frantisek Mrazek as well as Ivan Langer and “the Castle”. These rather controversial tones could be heard again at the end of the last year when the founder of the company presented himself as a sponsor of KDU-CSL and expressed his wishes to be more publicly engaged.

Developers Skanska Reality and Trigema had relatively smaller media coverage. While the first one has been stagnating as far as media coverage is considered, the latter has been growing, especially thanks to its own analyses of the real-estate market and media competence of Marcel Soural. Both companies were pretty well covered by media at the beginning of 2012. Then sales of apartments and their prices were often written about with respect to the growth in VAT, which was true also in the third quarter of 2013 when Trigema promoted “modular housing” in the framework of its project 2Barevne Lenany (2Color Letnany) and at the end of the year when Skanska received a Superbrands award and called a tender for a media agency.

More or less successful projects in 2013

In 2013, Ekospol could base its media coverage not only on its own analyses of the real-estate market and articulacy of Evzen Korec but also two of its projects: Nove Mecholupy (New Mecholupy, 112 stories) and Panorama Kyje (Kyje Skyline, 86). The Mecholupy project was declared as “currently the best selling one” by the developer and it stressed out that it had sold a hundred condominiums before the construction even started. Rare ambivalence (Central Group and Ekospol start a media skirmish, E15 and e15.cz) was caused by what media learned to call a price war. The Kyje project was mentioned in a similar, mainly positive, context.

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Crestyl’s residence Dock in Liben received pretty good media coverage, too (56 stories). When the location, which the developer had described as “silent and romantic housing with a view of water surface” protected with a modern flood dam was flooded in June (not by the Vltava river but surprisingly by Rokytka), many journalists could not help but write rather mocking comments (e.g. HN: Luxurious condominiums under water, developer looking for ways from swamp, June 10, 2013, LN: Prague „Hamburg“ under water, June 5, 2013) which generated negative media coverage. The company however kept its optimism and in September, already, Omar Koleital appreciated that despite of not having offered discounts after the aforementioned calamity, it had sold condominiums for CZK 82 million (LN, September 26).

In 2013, Trigema was successful in media with the second phase of its project 2Barevne Letnany (44) thanks to customers’ demand, energy efficient mode of the apartments and a concept promoted by Marcel Soural as “modular housing”. JRD presented Park Hloubetin with emphasis of the energy-passive apartments and it could also present its “energy Oscar” (Czech Energy Efficient and Environmental Building of the Year 2011). JRD also presented another of its projects in a similar way – as indicated by its name: Ecocity Malesice. Its residents can allegedly look forward to five or six times lower consumption of energies than in normal buildings. Milicovsky haj by Skanska was at first hit by bad news from the Supreme Administrative Court, which agreed with the local civic association and issued an interlucory injunction which prevented the construction in the preserved area of Milicov ponds but then the Czech Environment Inspection got involved and it allowed the construction again. Projects with less media coverage received rather good reputation – Liberty Building by Geosan in Prague – Nusle, Eliska residence by Gaudi and the new 94-meter tall landmark of Prague – Vysocany, well selling and cheap Javorova ctvrt (Maple neighborhood) by Central Group as well as Kejruv Park whereStar Groupcooperated with Prague 9 on restoration of a former recreational area by the Upper Pond and thus it successfully completed a mission at the beginning of which the executive officer of the company had to “use all his imagination to be able to see a successful project here” (iHNed.cz, May 30, 2013). The sporadically covered project of Jahodnice in Prague 9 – Hostavice caused outrage by the fact that Skanska rented a gas boiler house to Dalkia and thus removed a possibility from the owners of the condominiums to decide for the following 20 years how much they would pay for heating (LN: Developers’ tricks increase prices of housing, April 16, 2013).

Who informed the most often about the projects

Portals buildingnews.cz and kdechcibydlet.cz have written the most often about developers’ projects. Their reporters have used mainly press releases which is true also about other websites specializing in housing and development – stavitel.iHNed.cz and hypoindex.cz. MfD has had a richer scope and number of authors and its media coverage tied for 3rd and 4th places. It has published its texts mainly in appendices Moje Bydleni, Reality, etc. Texts by Vladimir Kalab and Pavla Kreuzigerova in Lidove noviny have had more analytical ambitions and so has Marina Mareckova who has written about development projects for Hospodarske noviny.

Note: Data source: www.newtonmedia.cz/monitorovana-media; data about projects excluding agency coverage. Selection or articles from the archive of NEWTON Media carried out on basis of keywords consisting of names of individual developers (in all versions) and their development projects.
Publikováno: 10/15/2014
Jan Jüptner, Ph.D.

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