Blackstone Publicly Criticises the Government’s Rental Housing Plan

13 November 2018 – Voz Pópuli

The company that has invested the most money in the Spanish real estate sector over the last five years, Blackstone, has publicly criticised the Government regarding its rental housing plan, which includes several measures that will directly impact the US company’s business in Spain.

Blackstone’s most senior representative in Spain, Claudio Boada, has warned that he views with “concern” the plans unveiled by Pedro Sánchez’s Government in this regard. Boada was speaking at a breakfast meeting this morning organised by the United States Chamber of Commerce in Spain (Amcham Spain) with the Minister for the Economy, Nadia Calviño, in attendance, at the Villa Magna Hotel in Madrid.

Claudio Boada, Senior Adviser at Blackstone for Spain and Portugal, was speaking after Calviño’s presentation, at a symposium led by Jaime Malet, President of Amcham Spain, and attended by more than fifty representatives of US companies in Spain. He warned that the US group regards with “concern” the plans unveiled by the Government for rental housing, and he pointed out that his company has invested €25 billion in the country in recent years “backing Spain during the worst years of the crisis”.

In particular, Boada referred to the project to return the duration of rental contracts to five years, versus their current duration of three years (as a result of the Urban Rental Law, dated June 2013), which will be applicable for physical persons. In those cases where the lessor is a legal entity, the minimum duration will be seven years.

The most senior representative of Blackstone in Spain, who attended the meeting together with Eduard Mendiluce, who leads the investment firm’s real estate business, requested channels of dialogue with the Minister for the Economy to address the matters.

The plan from the Government regarding rental homes affects the buoyancy of Blackstone’s core business in Spain. The company chaired by Stephen Schwarzman has been purchasing large packages of mortgages corresponding to more than 100,000 rental homes from Spanish banks over the last five years (…).

The group has taken advantage of the financial and real estate crisis to acquire those homes and mortgages at significant discounts, but it has taken the risk of making the operations profitable by trying to improve the management of those properties.

For Blackstone, whose motto is “buy, fix and sell”, its business involves renting out homes purchased at the most profitable prices possible taking into account the large discounts that it typically obtains upon acquisition. It also gets rid of tenants who do not pay their rent.

For this reason, the plans announced by the Government regarding rental homes affect the US group so much, given that far from making the rental sector more flexible, they would actually slow it down. Problem tenants, those who refuse to pay or leave a rental home, will presumably be given more time to dig their heels in (…).

Royal Decree on the horizon

“Blackstone has not threatened to stop investing in Spain”, said sources close to the investment company consulted by this newspaper at the end of the symposium organised by Amcham Spain. They added that the firm’s intention is very much to continue investing.

Nevertheless, the same sources indicated that Blackstone does require the possibility of entering into talks with the Administration to express its view regarding the rental policy, and that they believe that the Government will approve the new measures in this regard by Royal Decree this month. The company considers that there could be several alternatives reflected in the parliamentary procedure for the new regulation.

Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Alberto Ortín)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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