AC, Hesperia, Piñero And BlueBay All Plan To Launch Socimis

9 February 2016 – Expansion

Following the success of Barcelo and Bay, more and more chains are in the study of creating a listed vehicle and separate property assets from hotel management to reduce risk and free up resources.

Despite the negative start in the stock markets, 2016 could be the year of hotel Socimis. The alliance between Barceló and Hispania to create the listed investment vehicle “Bay”, together with the interest of investors in the hotel sector in the heat of the tourist boom and the recovery of the Spanish demand, have encouraged BlueBay, AC, Hesperia and Grupo Piñero to launch their own Socimis.

In the case of Blue Bay, the plan is well underway and its Socimi could debut on the floor in the first half with four hotels in the Balearic Islands and one in “Costa del Sol“, and a value of between EUR 150 and 250 million. As Antonio Fernandez, Chairman of Armabex and registered adviser in the operation, “the operation of Barceló and Hispania has made both large chains and small and medium-sized family companies reflect.” 
According to Fernandez, “This is the time of hotels, due to real estate valuations, the liquidity in the market and the type of asset. Since they operate with a lease contract, you can capture some of that value as investment. And he adds: “In the coming years, no properties will be sold, but the SOCIMIs themselves”.

So far, the focus of hotel SOCIMIs has been the holiday segment, taking advantage of the excellent moment in tourism – Spain received more than 68 million foreign visitors in 2015 – and visibility, as the resort hotels have signed contracts of several years with tour operators. Thus, all hotels that Barceló transfered to Bay and with which Bluebay will create its Socimi are spread between the Balearic Islands and Andalusia. 
However, this trend might change in the medium term, with the first purely urban hotel Socimis. Meridia Capital works in this line, which could give the shape of Socimi to its fourth fund. The new vehicle specializes in city hotels, located in Madrid and Barcelona and will combine establishments of several chains. The project of Meridia Capital could open a window of opportunity to Hesperia Investment Group and AC, which are also analyzing the creation of their listed vehicle.

Hesperia, an NH shareholder, tried to sell a batch of six hotels during the crisis and transferring the property it would obtain funds to reduce its debt while maintaining the management of the establishments.

This is one of the great advantages for hotel companies. However, in the case of Meliá, the formula has been discarded because the Socimi forces to sign a lease contract and the Escarrer family´s chain guides its growth strategy via management. Nor is it in NH´s radar, since after progressive output deals in recent years, IT only has 13 owned hotels in Spain – out of a total of 79 – including Eurobuilding Madrid or Calderón Barcelona.

By contrast, it does have the door open to replicate the formula in other countries like Mexico – where the equivalent are the fibers, and Greece, but so far these projects have slowed. Likewise, Room Mate chain led by Enrique Sarasola, is planning to ally with a Socimi – in this case, it does not have owned hotels, but simply manage them, or a Reit – as these types of vehicles are known in the US, to boost their growth. In addition to the tax advantages and the distribution of at least 90% of income in dividends for investors, Socimis are a funding formula and make expansion – Barceló used the funds raised with Bay to purchase “Occidental” – and succession in family businesses easier.

Original story: Expansion (by Yovanna Blanco)

Translation: Aura Ree

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