Overview – MARCH
March was even busier than September as the Spanish real estate sector continued to boom. Several deals worth more than €100 million were completed, with the office and logistics sectors leading the charge.
In terms of corporate transactions, the US fund Värde merged its two property developers Vía Célere and Aelca to create one of Spain’s largest RE firms, which will operate under the name of the former – the resulting company will have the capacity to deliver 2,000 homes in 2019 and 5,000 homes in 2020. Also in the residential sector, Blackstone finally convinced Acciona to sell its 20% stake in Testa for €379 million, bringing its share in the residential rental company to 70.01% (In September, the US fund purchased the shares owned by Merlin, BBVA and Santander (50.01%) for €948 million).
In the banking sector, after months of speculation, Banco Sabadell put its fully owned subsidiary servicer Solvia up for sale, much to the delight of the market – interested parties at this stage include Cerberus and Intrum, amongst others. Moreover, Apollo engaged Goldman Sachs to sell its real estate and loan manager, Altamira (in which it owns an 85% stake).
Meanwhile, in the office segment in Madrid, the Socimi Zambal acquired the Novus Building (42,945 m2) in the north of the capital from Axa for €94.5 million; and Colonial completed two divestments: the sale of 6 office buildings spanning 78,000 m2 to Tristan Capital Partners and Savills IM, and the sale of a 9,100 m2 office building on Calle Alcalá to Real I.S., both for undisclosed sums.
Further afield, in Barcelona, Meridia Capital sold Nestle’s headquarters to the Korean manager IGIS Asset Management for around €87 million; and in Valencia, Grupo Zriser, the investment firm owned by Ana and Pablo Serratosa, sold the 11,000 m2 Alameda Building to the fund Loreto Mutua, for an undisclosed sum.
Also in the office segment, José Luis López de Herrera-Oria (the former CEO of Axiare, which was absorbed by Colonial in May) launched Árima, a new Socimi focusing on the office market in Madrid, which made its debut on the stock market on 23 October with several high profile investors acquiring stakes, including Pelham Capital (9.9%), Bank of Montreal (9.7%), Morgan Stanley (9.4%) and Héctor Colonques (4.9%). In addition, the Socimi Lar España put its office portfolio up for sale for €110 million, as it continues with its strategic plan to focus on commercial assets only.
Finally, co-working spaces hit the headlines throughout October. Firstly, Cushman & Wakefield issued a report revealing that co-working spaces have risen by 71% YoY to September in Madrid and Barcelona. Secondly, anecdotal evidence aplenty was published: the US group WeWork leased 2 new office spaces in Barcelona; Regus announced that it is searching for partners to open 550 flexible workspace centres across Spain; Spaces launched its third co-working centre on Paseo de la Castellana in Madrid; and OneCoWork announced that it is going to open a new centre on Via Laietana in Barcelona in 2019.
In the logistics segment, the global real estate investment manager, Invesco, announced the acquisition of three newly built logistics assets (spanning 189,000 m2) in Madrid and Barcelona for €173 million; the joint venture between Eurofund and Logistic Capital Partners purchased a 130,000 m2 plot in the Corredor de Henares for the development of a new logistics project on the site; the Aragón-based operator, Montepino invested €85 million in a new logistics centre with a surface area of 89,000 m2 in Guadalajara; the European logistics specialist Gazeley made a return to the Spanish market by purchasing a 75,000 m2 industrial plot in Toledo for an undisclosed sum; and the British Socimi Segro acquired 44,500 m2 of industrial land in Madrid, on which it is going to build two urban distribution centres.
In the retail segment, El Corte Inglés sold a store measuring 7,000 m2 on c/Colón in Valencia to Corpfin Real Estate for c. €90 million; Ores Socimi purchased 3 commercial assets in Madrid and Santander (leased to the supermarkets Mercadona and Día, and the home décor chain Conforama) for €19.7 million; and ASG completed its acquisition of the Ruta de la Plata shopping centre in Cáceres (8,300 m2) for an undisclosed sum.
In the residential sector, the Town Hall of Barcelona announced two pioneering measures to defend its citizens’ right to housing: firstly, it will apply protected status to 30% of new developments and major renovations; and secondly, it will declare the whole city as an area of first refusal, with the objective of ensuring that the Town Hall will be able to acquire buildings and plots of land on a preferential basis. The reaction from investors was lukewarm at best.
In terms of transactions, the Socimi Quonia divested an asset on c/Balmes in Barcelona for €13.2 million to an undisclosed buyer; the Socimi VBare acquired c/Luchana, 20 from an unknown vendor for €10.5 million, in the largest investment made by that company in a single asset to date; and Corp Promotors acquired a 1,512 m2 residential and commercial-use plot in Barcelona from the public company responsible for the development of the new La Sagrera train station for €10.4 million.
Finally, in the alternative asset segment, Solvia ended the month of October by completing the sale of 3 hospitals in Barcelona, Bilbao and San Sebtastian to an unknown domestic investor for c. €200 million; and the British oil company BP acquired 65 gas stations from Avenue Capital and JZ International for an undisclosed sum.
If this pace continues until year end, we will be on course for another record-breaking investment year in the Spanish real estate sector.