17 January 2017 – Cinco Días
The Socimi Hispania is planning to join the bond issues undertaken in recent months by other major players in the sector, including Merlin and Colonial, with the aim of diversifying its financing. To this end, it has already started to sound out the ratings agencies. Its objective is to obtain an investment grade rating for its securities.
Hispania Activos Inmobiliarios is studying the option of debuting on the capital markets with a bond issue to refinance some of its gross debt, which currently amounts to €631 million, according to sources familiar with the operation.
The Socimi has already started the process to request a rating from the ratings agencies, with the aim of launching the operation during the first few months of the year.
The firm has made contact with the three large players –Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch–, although it will not need a rating from all of them, rather from just one of them or two at most. The aim is to achieve an investment grade rating – BBB – or Baa3 – , which would allow it to debut on the capital markets at a reasonable cost.
Hispania, in which the magnate George Soros owns a 16% stake, will thereby join the other bond issues undertaken recently by other companies in the sector.
The Socimi Merlin Properties – which forms part of the Ibex 35 – went to the market in October with a 10-year bond placement amounting to €800 million. The current yield on that debt is 2.3%. It has a Baa2 rating, which is one notch above the limit that separates junk bonds from investment grade securities, according to Moody’s nomenclature. Moreover, Merlin has assumed another €1,550 million in bonds from two bond issues made by Metrovacesa, with which it completed its merger at the end of October. (…).
Hispania’s current debt has an average maturity period of 7.2 years and €497 million of the balance is due to be repaid from 2022 onwards. The current average debt cost is 2.7%. Hispania also has hedges in place to avoid any surprises if interest rates rise. 96% of its debt is guaranteed. (…).
In general terms, the optimal balance sheet structure of these types of companies rests on three pillars: bank debt with an additional guarantee – in the majority of cases, properties from the company’s portfolio – , unsecured financial loans and listed debt.
With the proceeds that it raises from the bond issue, Hispania plans to repay some of its current debt balance. It would thereby take advantage of the good conditions in the market with liquidity and the environment of low interest rates. This company, created in 2014 under the special tax regime for Socimis, is led by Concha Osácar and Fernando Gumuzio, and is managed by Azora. In addition to Soros, its shareholders include the funds Fidelity, FMR, Tamerlane and BlackRock.
Hispania’s portfolio of real estate assets closed the third quarter of 2016 with an appraisal value of €1,680 million. The Socimi owns 36 hotels in Spain with 10,407 rooms. 68% of the value of those assets is located in the Canary Islands and 64% is managed by Barceló, with which it has signed a strategic alliance. The Socimi recently purchased three properties in the Cala San Miguel in Ibiza (pictured above) for €32 million.
Original story: Cinco Días (by A. Simón and R.M. Simón)
Translation: Carmel Drake