10 February 2018 – El Correo
Bizkaia is preparing for a major commercial and real estate revolution. Sonae Sierra, the multinational owner of the Max Center shopping complex in Barakaldo has put the property up for sale, 15 years after acquiring it from ING Real Estate. The property was opened in 1994 and was extended in 2002 with the addition of the adjoining Max Ocio building. The latest transaction forms part of a national macro-operation, given that the portfolio up for sale also includes two other large complexes: the Gran Casa de Zaragoza and the Valle Real de Santander.
The company, together with its partner CBRE Global Investors, with whom it jointly shares the ownership of the three large shopping centres, calculates that it will receive proceeds of around €500 million from the sale, according to sources in the sector. Spokespeople for Sonae avoided providing further details about the operation to this newspaper on Thursday. They announced that they only discuss “closed” operations and that the installations in Kareaga, which have an approximate surface area of 60,000 m2 “are still operating in a normal way”.
Nevertheless, the negotiations have been underway for several months. Although they are satisfied with the progress of the business, which is enjoying growing sales and which seems to have left behind the worst years of the crisis, the current owners are looking to generate revenues from the sale of these assets to invest in other projects in different parts of Spain. Sonae Sierra, which is controlled by Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster and the richest man in the United Kingdom, has a presence in seven countries with 46 buildings worth almost €7 billion. It is currently working alongside the British operator McArthurGlen on the imminent opening of a luxury outlet in the Plaza Mayor de Málaga complex, which will involve a disbursement of €140 million.
The company is looking to take advantage of the current times in the Spanish real estate market, which are being characterised by a great deal of interest from funds and overseas companies. Last year, investment in the retail sector rose in a spectacular fashion – by 31% – to reach €3.9 billion. If this latest sale goes ahead, the owners of the Max Center, which is home to 133 stores, as well as a sizeable restaurant and leisure area, would complete their second divestment process in Bizkaia in two years.
At the beginning of 2016, they sold the Zubiarte de Bilbao complex to Activum SG Iberia Fund for €150 million (…).
Modernisation of its roof
Now, all eyes are focused on the Max Center, which has just invested €3.5 million on the modernisation of its roof. Nevertheless, the improvements are not going to stop there, given that the complex is soon going to be subjected to a complete renovation. The changes undertaken in recent months to renew the roof of the building, which houses a parking lot, included the resurfacing of the surface area and its signage, as well as improvements to the lighting and security in the parking area.
In addition to the successive renovation projects, the Max Center has also improved its sustainable profile with several actions aimed at reducing water consumption, improving energy efficiency and increasing recycling rates. Together with these interventions, management has been working on an intense campaign to increase the commercial offering and renew the trust of its customers who are being offered increasingly more choice by nearby competitors, such as Megapark and Ballonti (Portugalete). Some of the new brands that have chosen the Max Center and are about to open stores there include Pablosky, Indie&Soul, San Carlos, Trendie, Loop&Coffe and Burger King. Meanwhile, other stores, which are already established, such as the footwear shop Foot Locker, have undergone major renovations.
Original story: El Correo (by Luis Gómez)
Translation: Carmel Drake