19 June 2018 – El Español
The Town Hall of Barcelona has sold the shares of the joint venture company Mediacomplex SA, created by the Town Hall and the businessman Jaume Roures (pictured below), with the aim of constructing the Imagina building in 22@, to an unknown company headquartered in Luxembourg. This direct award to the overseas company, which will be made official today, has the backing of the municipal legal services and comes after no companies bid in the auction held at the height of the independence process, between 14 September and 14 November 2017.
The history of this project goes way back, given that it began in 2004 when Joan Clos was the mayor of the city. And its dissolution has been extremely arduous. Fourteen years ago, Mediapro constituted, through its company Rilson XXI Inmuebles SL, a joint venture with the municipal company 22@, subsequently absorbed by Barcelona de Infraestructuras Municipales SA (Bimsa). That joint venture is Mediacomplex, in which the Town Hall held a 33.3% stake and Mediapro the remaining 66.7%. The aim of the company was to construct the Imagina building, located at number 177 Avenida Diagonal, in the heart of the 22@ district and where companies belonging to Roures’ group have their headquarters.
The agreement specified that the Town Hall would pay €16.8 million to carry out the project, whilst Roures would pay a fee for the use of the land, owned by the state. But the businessman never made his payments and instead accumulated a debt amounting to €2.9 million.
Given that situation, in the summer of 2017, the government’s team decided to annul the contractual relationship with the businessman. The Board of Directors of Bimsa initiated the process to auction off the shares in the joint venture. In September of that year, 21 companies expressed their interest in acquiring the Imagina building. But two months later, none of them bid in the auction, which was abandoned. The period between 14 September and 7 November – the deadline for the submission of offers – coincided with the most critical period of the independence process.
It was then that the Town Hall commissioned a legal report about the viability of proceeding with the direct award of the shares in Mediacomplex to the company HEVF Master HoldCo S. À. R. L, constituted in October 2017, owned 100% by Hines European Value Fund SCP. The lawyers backed that operation, involving the purchase of 6,638 shares in Mediacomplex at €2,812 each, taking the total consideration to €18.6 million. The company made the offer in April.
But, as it happened, two weeks ago, the Board of Directors of Bimsa met, without the attendees being informed about the sale. That is according to assurances given by the PP councillor for the Town Hall Eduardo Bolaños, who is a member of Bimsa. “It is strange that we were not informed about that operation. We do not understand why that company had not bid in the auction that was abandoned. If it did, we are not aware of it and we are going to ask the Economy and Finance Committee about it all”, he explained.
That Committee, which will meet today Tuesday, will address the sale of Mediacomplex to the Luxembourg-based company.
The Imagina building was used by Mediapro to install the international press centre for the illegal referendum of 1 October. Similarly, the candidacy of Junts per Catalunya, with Carles Puigdemont at the top of the list, launched its electoral campaign at the venue.
Original story: El Español (by María Jesús Cañizares)
Translation: Carmel Drake