11 December 2015 – El Confidencial
Another high profile operation on Gran Vía. Axa Real Estate, the real estate arm of the French insurance company, has just added another property to its portfolio on the most sought-after thoroughfare in Madrid. This week, the company has reached an agreement to acquire the building that houses Hotel Rex and the historical cinemas of the same name, for €42 million.
The entity won a sales process that was launched at the start of the year by the firm Equity Inmuebles SL, controlled by the Mazon, Calero (owner of the Vincci hotels) and Briones families, which opened the bidding at around €28 million, but which, thanks to the huge appetite that exists to purchase assets on this street, has ended up selling the property for 50% more, according to comments made by several sources in the know.
This is the second operation of this kind that the French firm has closed on this thoroughfare, which last year acquired the former Avenida cinema, at number 37 Gran Vía for almost €80 million. It paid that high figure thanks to the “sweetener” afforded by having the Swedish fashion chain H&M as a tenant; it opened its most iconic store in the capital there in 2009.
For this new operation, Axa’s plans to remodel the building, which measures around 9,000 m2 and to operate it by combining its two current uses as a hotel and retail space. Moreover, the entity is willing to respect the protected nature of the cinemas, which have been closed for several years and which occupy a surface area of almost 700 m2.
Currently, the building houses a 3-star hotel with 147 rooms, managed by the owners of the property. Axa’s idea is to open a high-class establishment, which will add to the resurgence that Gran Vía is experiencing thanks to the boost that Operación Canalejas is generating in the whole area.
The real estate development, which is being led by OHL Desarrollos, includes the opening of the first Four Seasons hotel in the capital. The hotel chain is proving to be a real magnet, attracting brands of high standing to the Gran Vía area. In fact, experts expect that Grupo Wanda will end up choosing a chain of such standing to manage the hotel that it will open in the Edificio España, although for the time being, the only clue is that it will be a 5-star establishment.
The majority of the new hotels being planned on this thoroughfare are 4-star and 5-star properties, such as: the one due to be opened in the building on Calle Montera, 25-27, owned by the Díaz Estrada family; Gran Vía, 10, which houses the Ministry of Education and which has been acquired by Generali for conversion into a hotel operated by Vinnci; and the Barceló, which has been opened in Torre de Madrid in Plaza de España.
Through this operation involving the Edificio Rex, Axa Real estate joins several other high profile players in the hotel business in the centre of the capital and diversifies its interests, which until now have been very concentrated in the office sector, above all after it acquired 381 Santander branches from the Socimi Uro and after it purchased the headquarters of the Generalitat de Catalunya.
Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)
Translation: Carmel Drake