10 December 2015 – El Mundo
An Indian tycoon has purchased the Café Berlin building, close to Plaza de Callao, where he plans to construct a luxury hotel. The current managers of the legendary jazz club must close the venue by 31 December 2015.
On 31 December, the last song will be played in Café Berlín. After more than 40 years lighting up the Madrilenian nights, one of the few jazz clubs still open in the centre of the capital, will be closing its doors. A new hotel will be opened in its place within the next few months. Its new owners are Indian with Hong Kong passports, specifically, the Mohinani family, and they have not only acquired the property that houses the café, Calle Jacometrezo, 4, they have also acquired the two adjoining buildings (Calle Jacometrezo, 6 and 8), an unbeatable location, just 20 m from Plaza de Callao and Gran Vía, to benefit from the high visitor numbers in the area. Work will begin at the site within 6 months.
At first glance, you do not notice anything, but the panel of owners of the properties in the centre of Madrid is changing at top speed. And it is not only the vulture funds and the traditional millionaires, such as Amancio Ortega, who are pouncing on the most coveted buildings. With the stock market in the doldrums and the Chinese economy rather battered, rich Chinese, Philippines, Indians and South-East Asian investors are finding that properties in European capitals are the perfect place for them to put their money for safe keeping.
Buying in Europe is fashionable to such an extent that, in two years, the magnate Harry Mohinani, aged 50, and his partners have invested €180 million in half a dozen properties in Madrid and Barcelona. The Mohinani family comes from the textile trade – Grupo Mulitex – and has been selling cheap clothes in Spain for years. Although their factories are in India, China and Bangladesh, their operational headquarters is in Hong Kong. Alongside them, 10 other families from the Asian textile sector are investing. They arrived in Spain two years ago, following in the wake of the Wanda Group, owned by the Chinese businessman Wang Jianlin. (…).
In Madrid, the family’s real estate company Platinum Estates operates at the hand of Reveals Inversiones, itself owned by the businessman Juan Luis Segalerva and with legal support from Garrigues, the legal firm that is acting as the gateway to capital inflows from Asia. “Before the end of the year, we will buy another three properties for around €100 million”, explains Segalerva. Between the two of them, they have woven a web of property companies, 11 companies in total, which are, in turn, subsidiaries of other companies also headquartered in Hong Kong.
The sellers, wealthy Spanish families, have no liquidity to renew the buildings or are in financial straits. These include the Echevarría family – owner of Jacometrezo – or the Salazar family, historical shareholders of Sos Cuétara (today Deóleo) and owners of the Gran Hotel Velázquez and the El Rocío restaurant, who sold Hotel Asturias, in Plaza de Canalejas to the same Indian family one year ago.
Original story: El Mundo (by José F. Leal)
Translation: Carmel Drake