Lev Leviev: Africa Israel Will Be Worth $7 Billion by Year-end

Western property markets have exhausted their potential, real estate baron tells TheMarker at Davos

Two and a half years ago, Lev Leviev shocked the market by revealing the true scope of his ambition: to lift Africa Israel's (TASE: AFIL)  market value to $5 billion. In an interview with TheMarker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, it turns out, that was nothing.

Leviev thinks that an appropriate value for the holding company he controls is actually $7 billion, achievable by the end of this year, he said.

In June 2004, Leviev called a press conference and declared that Africa Israel would achieve a market cap of $5 billion within seven years. That was an extraordinary figure, at the time: the company's share price on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange reflected a not-mean company value of a billion dollars.

To reach his target within seven years, Africa Israel's share price would have to grow by 26% a year, a pace that few companies can sustain over time.

Yet the deeply religious Russian-Israeli real estate baron hadn't been completely off the wall. He evidently had very realistic estimations of what his company is capable of.

Africa Israel today is worth $3.6 billion, and counting. And in a nutshell, Leviev has raised his target.

Africa Israel stock in Tel Aviv, from 2006

His optimism regarding Africa Israel's future worth probably stems in part from plans to float the company's eastern European and Russian property operations in London. The value there could be billions of dollars.

Altogether the company has invested, Leviev estimates, about a billion dollars in those development areas.

Africa Israel vs the benchmark TA-100 index over 7 years

A native of that region, Leviev has high hopes of the Russian markets. "Africa Israel's operations in Russia are a very significant engine driving the company in the next two years," the billionaire said.  "Russian property prices have risen madly and it's harder today to make profitable deals. But Africa Israel has major reserves of land bought in the last few years."

He feels that the western property markets have just about exhausted their potential. In the years to come, Africa Israel means to focus on India and China, and is considering construction of infrastructure in South America. Moreover, Leviev's ambitions for Russia don't stop at building: he means for Africa Israel to get into agriculture there too.