19 October 2017 – Expansión
Andrés Rubio, Head of Europe for Apollo Global Management, one of the largest funds in the world and one of the most active in Spain, has said in London that the Catalan crisis “is not good” for Spain or for Cataluña and that investors are already taking into account the risk caused by the political instability.
At a conference organised by EY and the Spanish Association of Capital, Growth and Investment (Ascri) in the British capital, Rubio explained that “Spain is a model country in Europe for how it has dealt with the (financial) crisis and for the reforms that it has undertaken, above all in the employment, taxation and banking fields”. Nevertheless, “what we are seeing now is not good at all, either for Spain or for Cataluña”, he said. “Any investor looking at Cataluña now is analysing the risk”, explained Rubio, who acknowledges that he has seen a sharp slowdown in the market. “There is less activity in Cataluña now than there was a month ago, that’s for sure”.
Apollo Global Management has been one of the funds that has invested the most in Spain in recent years. Since it decided to back the Spanish market at the height of the (financial) crisis, it has invested around €1,000 million. Its main assets include an 85% stake in Altamira Real Estate, a real estate manager purchased from Banco Santander in November 2013 for €664 million, and Evo Banc, which it acquired from Nova Caixa Galicia for €60 million. It also owns a portfolio of hotels purchased from La Caixa and it wants to grow further in that segment.
Rubio’s comments echo the opinion of the other major funds meeting in London to analyse investment opportunities in Spain. Many expressed their concern for the situation in Cataluña and said that it may affect their investment decisions over the medium term. “Uncertainty is never good”, said Fernando Chueca, Director at Carlyle. “Nobody likes instability”, explained Nader Sabaqqian, from 360 Capital Partners, a technological fund that currently holds investments in two companies headquartered in Barcelona – Xceed and 21 Buttons – and which wants to make more purchases in Spain.
Above all, investors fear the political instability that may be created within the central Government, as well as the social discontent that is growing in Cataluña as the political tension rises. The heads of most of the large funds with interests in Spain say that, for the time being, they are not going to take any drastic decisions, but if the uncertainty continues, they will have to start to take action. “International investments have been suspended in Cataluña for a year now”, said another director.
Rubio, who is a Spanish citizen, but who was raised in New York, praised the clean up of the Spanish banking system during his speech at the conference. He explained that the sector has seen a reduction in the number of banks from 49 to 12 since the start of the crisis. He added that “Spain has a tailwind” and that Apollo is satisfied with the investments it has made. “We believe in Spain and we will continue investing”, he said.
Original story: Expansión (by Amparo Polo)
Translation: Carmel Drake