Political Uncertainty and Populism Threaten RE Recovery
1 June 2015 – El Economista
The electoral success of Manuela Carmena (Ahora Madrid) in Madrid and Ada Colau (Barcelona En Comú) in Barcelona has started to take its first victims in the real estate sector. Barely a week has passed since the elections and “some investors have already suspended deals to purchase property in Spain”, warn certain sources close to the negotiations.
The uncertainty regarding the possible political agreements has hit the property sector hard, “just when it was starting to recover”. In Madrid and Barcelona alone, large urban projects amounting to €14,000 million have already been called into question.
Major construction companies, financial institutions and large international funds are involved in these developments, including the Chinese magnate Wang Jianlin, who came to Spain with plans to invest around €4,000 million and who now see his real estate plans for the country being endangered.
“Right now, the sector is beginning a process of paralysis in certain segments. All of the investors are waiting for the possible political agreements to be settled so that they can carry out transactions”, explain sources in the sector.
“The is a great deal of uncertainty and considerable ungovernability in many cases, as well as expected increases in taxes and public spending, coupled with the suspension of forecast investments, which may result in the withdrawal of foreign capital”, they warn.
This situation may result in “an important step backwards for the emerging recovery”, given that it comes at a time when the real estate sector was really beginning to take off; record levels of investment were recorded last year. Before the elections, experts predicted that the level of transactions was going to continue (this year), but following recent events, “it is now very difficult to make forecasts”. These warnings coincide with others made this week by several important businessmen, such as the Chairman of OHL, Juan Miguel Villar Mir, who said that (political) groups such as Podemos put Spain’s economic recovery in danger. In a similar way, the markets have penalised the election results and the Ibex 35 recorded a loss of 2.91% last week.
The urban plans proposed by Carmena and Colau leave most of the major projects, both those already underway as well as those still to be awarded, up in the air. In Madrid, they endanger million-euro developments such as Operación Chamartín, the Madrid Río shopping centre, Operación Mahou-Calderón, the Canalejas complex, Operación Edificio España, la Ciudad de Justicia and even Operación Campamento.
Whilst in Barcelona, projects such as La Maquinista and Heron City shopping centres, the refurbishment of the Nou Camp and urban developments in the surrounding area, the ski slope in the free trade zone of Barcelona SnowWorld and the conversion into hotels of iconic buildings such as Torre Agbar, the Deutsche Bank building on Passeig de Gracia or Project Núñez i Navarro are also at risk.
Original story: El Economista (by Alba Brualla and Javier Mesones)
Translation: Carmel Drake