Swimming through choppy waters

Small talk
In the second of our Small Talk chats, we speak with Damian Kapitan, the CEO of Budimex Nieruchomości, about (among other things), the residential developer's search for a buyer

Tomasz Cudowski: Some time ago people in the market were saying that Budimex intended to sell its development division and now I hear that the first interested parties have appeared, looking to buy Budimex Nieruchomości…

Damian Kapitan: This is true. Our owner is now at the stage of choosing a strategic option and several interested parties are doing their due diligence.

Are you looking for someone to buy the whole business or just a part?

The basic plan is to sell a 100 pct stake, but this doesn’t rule out other options, such as selling some of the shares to a particular institution or selling them on the stock exchange. The final decision will most likely be taken around the end of this year or the beginning of the next. [This conversation took place in the middle of December – editor’s note]

Why in your opinion is Budimex Nieruchomości an interesting asset for potential investors?

Because it’s a solid and active company that’s active in a sector with a clear future. We employ more than150 people in five cities and we had record pre-sales in 2019. We believe that our figures for 2020, although it has been a very unusual year, are also going to be excellent. I’m already certain that the targets we had for our financial results for our apartment sales can be met, even though we set them way before the outbreak of the pandemic. We want our ‘we keep our promises’ motto to not just be an advertising slogan but a value that guides what we do on a day-to-day basis.

How did the company react to the outbreak of Covid?

This isn’t the first crisis the sector has ever gone through and we always react in the same way. Firstly, you have to look after your people and their safety; secondly, you’ve got to concentrate on the organisation. After a short break, we got back to business – the work on our construction projects didn’t stop at all – and we even handed over our apartments without major disruptions. The most important thing was that by May we’d already decided that we were going to stick to our schedule and begin our next investment projects. As a result of this, since the beginning of the year we have put 1,400 apartments up for sale and by the end of December we're going to add another 500.

What was your biggest challenge in the spring? Closed government offices?

Exactly. And we still have this problem today, since we’re now back in a quasi-lockdown. The problem is not only that administrative decisions aren’t being issued, which are essential to developers for them to both start and complete their projects, but also they won’t process the documents that we and our clients submit that are required for the notary deeds. At the moment the legislation makes it difficult to obtain these documents without face-to-face contact with a civil servant, but such contact – as you know – is limited. However, we believe the situation is going to improve.

A year has now passed since you took the helm of this company. Are there any achievements that you are particularly proud of over this time?

I’ve worked for Budimex Nieruchomości for many years and I know our team well, so I was sure that we would be able to cope with even the toughest of situations. I wasn’t wrong. The spring was a trial period for us. A lot of mistakes could have been made then because the pandemic was the kind of crisis no-one had ever seen before. Nonetheless, we were soon able to find our feet in this new situation – this is probably what I regard as the team’s greatest achievement and also my own. We are going to remember this year as being very difficult, but it has also been the year that gave us the certainty that no crisis is going to rattle us.

What do you do in your free time? Do you spend it actively or passively?

It depends on the time of year, but I prefer to be active. I managed to spend part of the summer at the seaside with my family, but I was also waiting for the autumn, because then I would, at last, be able to start... winter swimming.

And where do you do that?

Usually I go to Pruszków to the lake in Żbikowski park. And the reason why I do it is that it’s an excellent and healthy pastime and I also get to meet a lot of people from different backgrounds. They are all very friendly and nice.

What advice would you give someone who had never tried winter swimming but wanted to?

It’s simple: the most important thing is that you warm up properly first. Then all you need to do is get into the water.