Blackstone, Cerberus, Arcano & Others Head To The Beach…

30 May 2016 – El Confidencial

(…). Just over a year and a half ago, the large real estate investment funds were concentrating their activity in Spain’s two large (regional) capital cities (namely, Madrid and Barcelona). Nevertheless, the saturation of operations and a gradual increase in prices (there is no sign of a bubble in either city, but there are increasingly fewer bargains to be had) has forced investors to explore new locations, in cities that are one step down in terms of size and population, but where there is significant latent demand, and above all, very attractive prices for operations with payback periods of five or seven years. Valencia and the Valencian Coast are in the spotlight, according to sources from an important real estate consultancy firm headquartered in the city, which has participated in some of the largest transactions completed in recent months.

Blackstone, Cerberus, and even the Real Estate division of managers such as Arcano, have been exploring and closing operations in the Valencian market for more than 12 months now, primarily acquiring debt portfolios secured by well-located residential properties and focusing on upper-middle class segments of the population with a certain amount of liquidity and the capacity to borrow. The assets acquired include not only finished promotions, but also urban land, such as the case of a group of plots located in Nou Campanar, which Sareb has just sold to the US fund Castlelake. The land used to be owned by Juan Armiñana, one of the local property developers who made his fortune during the real estate bubble and was destroyed following the crash, leaving behind a small empire of bankrupt companies and millions of euros of debt from the banks.

The presence of a fund like Castlelake in this type of operation is striking because two years ago, no-one would have imagined such a fund exploring operations beyond Madrid or Barcelona. Last year, Sareb sold it 76,000 sqm of residential land in the Madrilenian town of Boadilla del Monte for around €13 million. In the cae of Nou Campanar, the consideration has been lower, given that the plot of land measures just 12,000 sqm and has a buildability of 40,000 sqm.

The funds are exploring “prime” areas of the city of Valencia, both in the centre and along the seafront, as well as along the Patacona beach area, where there is still some undeveloped land and several developments for sale, in the hands of financial institutions. In the same way, local investors, such as the Zriser Group (Pablo Serratosa) are looking to launch a residential development in the vicinity of the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. (…).

Five year payback periods and returns of 20%

The logic behind these investments tends to have a common element – payback periods of just over five years with average returns of 20%. These deals are conceived from a purely financial point of view, but they include agreements with construction companies when they involve land development and sales plans. (…).

Original story: El Confidencial (by Víctor Romero)

Translation: Carmel Drake