||Developers are the engine of the real estate industry. Numerous companies are involved in the process of project and area development. Much has been published on the characteristics of that process. But specific information on the economic and financial aspects of this billion euro business is rare. The development industry seems a black-box both at macro- and at meso-level. This paper aims to shed some light on this “black box”. The main objective of this paper is twofold. First we provide a quantitative understanding of the economic position of the development industry in the EU-15 countries. An international comparison will be made by analysing two large-scale databases on aspects as production value, employment and company size. Secondly, we zoom in on some specific meso-level features of that industry in five European countries, viz France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Characteristics as portfolio composition, market focus, location, type of affiliation will be analysed, based on the 50 largest companies in each country. Perspectives of this industry in the aforementioned countries will be presented based on expert interviews. Our analysis reveals interesting results. On macro level the modest employment figures of the development industry contrast heavily with the size of its spin-off and added value. Moreover the build-up of its workforce differs from the national picture. On meso-level the diversity of the development industry is striking. The location pattern differs considerably between France, Spain and the UK on the one hand and Germany and the Netherlands on the other hand. The difference in economic and political dominance of the capital city may explain this. The portfolio composition shows a wide variety already on national level; allrounders and specialists are both represented. As for the market focus of development companies, we do not only observe differences between companies, but also between countries. A more international orientation dominates in Netherlands and France, in the other countries the focus is more on the national market. In all countries a strong representation of both independants and companies affiliated with construction and financial mother companies has been found. Explanations for differences between countries are assumed. Perspectives reveal interesting trends as a reaction to changes in the business environment. Further research issues in this field will be presented.