7 November 2017 – El Confidencial
The historical property developer Habitat Inmobiliaria is on its way to becoming the next iconic Catalan company to abandon its region of origin in order to avoid the risks associated with the current crisis being caused by the independence challenge. The company’s shareholders, led by Capstone Equities Management, have been discussing the possible transfer of its corporate headquarters from number 458 Avenida Diagonal in Barcelona to Madrid for several weeks now; they want to reduce any risks to the sales plans being developed by its commercial network (in other parts of the country).
The company, founded in 1953, was owned by the Figueras family until November 2015, when it was taken over by Capstone and a group of funds, including Värde, in an operation that included a multi-million debt discount and in which Goldman Sachs and Bank of America also participated. The change in ownership led, in turn, to an about-turn in its management. Rafael del Valle took over the role of President and a significant part of the operations were moved to Madrid, although the registered address of Promociones Habitat, as the company is known formally, was maintained in Barcelona.
Now, the owners have initiated a sales process and the private equity firms Apollo, Oaktree and Bain are all competing in the final round, according to El Confidencial. In this context, the uncertainty generated in Catalaña could give the final push to move, however, the debate is on-going internally, which sources from the real estate company freely admit.
The problem for Habitat is not so much its exposure to the Catalan market itself, but more a question of its image in the commercial network across the rest of Spain. Of the 11 real estate developments that it currently has up for sale, only one is located in Cataluña, specifically, in Cornellà de Llobregat, called Parc de Can Mercader. The rest are located in Madrid (four developments), the Community of Valencia (four), Andalucía (three), Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Portugal (one each). In other words, the problem facing the company is the opposition that its products may receive given the fact that it is a Catalan company, a phenomenon that is being seen in other sectors.
If this change of registered address comes about, Habitat will be the second large real estate company to abandon Cataluña for political reasons after the Board of Directors of Inmobiliaria Colonial also decided, on 9 October, to move from Avenida Diagonal in Barcelona to Paseo de la Castellana in Madrid.
Original story: El Confidencial (by Víctor Romero)
Translation: Carmel Drake