26 April 2018 – El Correo
Onwards and upwards. Bizkaia is continuing to form the backdrop to some of the country’s most high profile real estate transactions. Following the placement on the market of BBVA’s old skyscraper for €100 million and the Ballonti commercial mega-centre in Portugalete for €150 million, big-name investment funds have put Bilbao in their line of fire once again for large operations that mix financial, commercial and real estate interests.
The most recent major intervention has been undertaken by three players. The international consultancy firm Catella has brokered the sale of Banesto’s former headquarters, located at number 3 Calle Navarra. The perfume company Grupo Arenal has acquired the historical building, which has been closed for several years following the cessation of the bank’s activity. The Galician firm has made the disbursement for the property, which spans 2,500 m2 and is spread over three floors.
According to experts in the sector, the operation has been closed for a sum of around €6 million, a figure on which sources at Catella declined to comment yesterday. The consultancy firm, one of the most important in Europe and founded by the owner of Ikea, who ended up selling it to a fund, has served as a bridge between Grupo Arenal, which had been studying the Bilbao market for years, and the former owners of the iconic building. The building previously belonged to a family office of the Invivas Group, owned by the Bilbao-based businessman Sabino Arrieta Heras.
To a certain extent, this operation breaks the mould of the recent sales and purchases carried out in Bilbao. To date, most of the acquisitions have involved local investment funds, which follow very closely the few buildings that become free in the city. The amount disbursed by Grupo Arenal is slightly lower than the figure agreed two weeks ago by the Governing Board of the Town Hall of Bilbao to acquire the largest Zara store in Euskadi and use it for the future expansion of the Basque Museum.
The PNV and PSE approved the payment of €5 million – divided into equal parts by the Town Hall and the Diputación de Bizkaia – for a store measuring just over 1,900 m2 on Calle La Cruz, owned by a company chaired by the wife of the Inditex founder.
A 70m-long façade
The arrival of Grupo Arenal has fulfilled the expectations of all the parties involved. Santander has freed itself of a property for which it was paying a sizeable rent, even though it was empty, and the perfume brand is ensured a shop window that measures more than 70m in a retail area that is very much on the rise (…).
The megastore, whose neighbours will include Starbucks, will soon open its second store in the Vizcaya capital, as it seeks to take advantage of the future “commercial pull” of Primark, which is going to occupy five floors of BBVA’s tower and the arrival of TAV. It is also hoping to benefit from its proximity “to major fashion operators, such as El Corte Inglés, Inditex and Mango” (…).
The perfume brand is going to use Bilbao as a “strategic” axis in its expansion plans, which involve increasing its revenue to €150 million and growing the number of points of sale from 40 to 60 by 2020.
Original story: El Correo (by Luis Gómez)
Translation: Carmel Drake