Azora Group Explores its Own Stock Market Debut

15 February 2018 – La Información

The Azora Group, the manager of the moment in the Spanish real estate sector, following the successful launch of its Socimi Hispania, which managed to attract well-known international investors such as George Soros, is now considering its own debut on the stock market, according to financial sources familiar with the situation, speaking to La Información. In parallel, it is continuing to work on the assignment to debut Sareb’s Socimi, Témpore Properties, on the stock market.

According to the sources, the investor group controlled by Concha Osácar (pictured above, third from left) and Fernando Gumuzio (pictured above, far left), through the parent company Azora Altus, has already taken the first steps towards processing its debut on the stock market, a move that the company declined to comment on when consulted in this regard. According to the definition that is available on the website of one of the other Socimis that it has debuted on the market and which it now manages exclusively following Hispania’s model, Colón Viviendas, the Azora Group “is made up of independent private equity managers specialising in the real estate sector”. Founded in 2003, the group employs 400 professionals and, according to its own estimates, manages an asset portfolio worth more than €4.1 billion. In addition to Hispania and Colón Viviendas, the group manages another collective investment instrument: Lazora.

Two well-known bankers are behind the Azora Group, both former members of Banco Santander’s private banking team: Concha Osácar and Fernando Gumuzio, who control the group’s parent company through two holding companies, Baztán Consultores and Hermanos Bécquer 10, respectively. They would be the major beneficiaries of this latest planned move (…).

Change of strategy

The Azora Group’s decision to direct its steps towards the stock market comes just a few months after Hispania’s General Shareholders’ Meeting took the decision to liquidate that Socimi in 2020. The possibility was included in the initial business plan set out at the time by Azora, but the subsequent remarkable performance of the company has opened up the possibility of that project becoming a reality. Not in vain, the firm had climbed to the status of being the largest owner in the domestic hotel sector, with 39 hotels and 11,200 rooms in its portfolio, and a flow of profits significantly higher than forecast: €308 million in 2016 and €185 million in H1 2017, up by 35% YoY.

Having established Hispania’s expiry date, the Azora Group unleashed a series of decisions in the following months. In May, it decided to liquidate Azora Europa 1, another real estate investment fund in which it managed to involve Sabadell Patrimonio, Abanca, Kutxabank, Caixabank, Bankia and investors such as Manuel Jové. The next step was to begin the process to debut a new Socimi on the MAB, Colón Viviendas, whose assets comprise 300 public rental apartments acquired from the Consell Comarcal del Barcelonés back in the day.

Almost in parallel, Azora placed another Socimi on the MAB, through Hispania and in partnership with Barceló. In that case, the assets were linked to the hotel sector, in the form of Bay Hotels & Leisure, with a portfolio worth €790 million, according to the prospectus. That adventure looks set to be coming to an end after Hispania first took over Barceló’s stake and then notified the CNMV, a few days ago, of its intention to exclude the entity from trading on the MAB due to the lack of appetite from minority shareholders and the reduced liquidity of its shares.

Original story: La Información (by Bruno Pérez)

Translation: Carmel Drake

414