Spain, the Fifth Biggest European Destination for Real Estate Investments

14 August 2018

With more than €6.1 billion invested in the year to June, Spain consolidated its position as one of the favourite destinations for investors, behind the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Holland.

The Spanish property market is still monopolising the flow of investment capital to Spain. With 6.161 billion euros invested in the first half of the year, Spain accounted for 5% of the total volume invested in the European market and has consolidated its position as the European country with the fifth highest volume transacted until June, behind the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Holland.

Overall, investment in the real estate market in Europe exceeded 120 billion euros, 10% less than in the same period of the previous, record-breaking, year, according to a report prepared by the consultancy CBRE.

By country. The United Kingdom is the leader in investments, with 34.4 billion euros, followed by Germany with 24.5 billion euros. In both cases, investments fell by 6%.

Behind these countries is France, with 11.9 billion euros; Holland with €10 billion; Spain with €6.1 billion; and Sweden with €5.1 billion.

By asset type. The office market was, once again, the segment that attracted the largest volume of investment in Europe, with 52 billion euros, 41% of the total; followed by alternative assets – student and senior citizen residences and healthcare facilities – with 21%; retail (20%), logistics (11%) and hotel management, 7%.

A takeover bid for Axiare

Spain. Colonial’s bid for Axiare encouraged investment in the sector during the first six months of the year, which, despite everything, came in at 15% below that registered in the same period of the previous year.

The acquisition of Axiare, which specialises in offices, by its rival Colonial, accounted for 30% of the total volume transacted in the first half of the year and leveraged the total investment in offices, to 2.036 billion euros.

The most active segment behind offices was retail. With 1.689 billion euros transacted in the first six months of the year, retail accounted for 27% of the total, thanks to the large volume invested in commercial centres with, among others, Redevco and Ares’ purchase of 70% of Parque Corredor for 140 million euros.

Operations focused on high street stores also encouraged investment in retail. Last January, the German fund manager Deka finalised its acquisition of 16 stores owned by Inditex, of which 14 are located in Spain, for some 400 million euros.

The next most significant segments by volume transacted were hotels, with 869 million euros, and logistics, with 716 million euros. 589 million were also invested in the residential sector, almost the same figure as in the first half of 2017, while purchases of alternative assets saw investments of 125 million euros.

Upward forecasts

As for forecasts for the end of the year, CBRE believes that the recovery in the real estate market in Catalonia that, after the independence referendum of last year, has experienced a certain measure of paralysis, along with the finalisation of some large operations currently under negotiation, will see the conclusion of 2018 reaching investment levels similar to those of previous years. Investments in 2017 reached 12.9 billion euros.

The director of Capital Markets at CBRE Spain, Mikel Marco-Gardoqui, explains that taking into account the various “large-scale” operations in advanced negotiations and the return of activity to the investment market in Catalonia, the prospects for the end of the year are “rosy.”

Among these operations is the purchase of four shopping centres owned by Unibail Rodamco for 490 million euros by Vukile. Specifically, the sale of Los Arcos (Seville). Bahia Sur (Cadiz), Faro (Badajoz) and Vallsur (Valladolid) by the South African fund was finalised at the end of July and will be counted, therefore, amongst the transactions closed in the third quarter.

Also, the finalisation of the sale of the three shopping centres sold by CBRE GI and Sonae – Gran Casa (Zaragoza), Max Center (Bilbao) and Valle Real (Santander) – for around 500 million euros is expected in the coming months. According to Expansión, the Slovak fund J&T, in alliance with Sonae, is a favourite to acquire this portfolio of commercial assets.

Corporate operations will also continue to boost the sector in the second half of the year. Among the operations that will boost the real estate market is the purchase of Hispania by Blackstone. The American investment fund finalised its takeover of Hispania last July, after taking control of almost 91% of the Socimi.

The offer from Blackstone, which already held 16.56% of the socimi’s capital, values Hispania at 1.992 billion euros and makes the US fund the largest hotel owner in Spain.

Marco-Gardoqui explains that Spain’s benign macroeconomic prospects, the potential for revenue growth in the office sector, the strong growth of electronic commerce and the need for adequate logistics spaces will continue to undergird the real estate sector.

Likewise, the consultancy underlined the opportunities in the alternative asset segment, which have an extensive need for development and professionalisation. Together with the availability of low-cost capital at low cost, the sector is expected to attract additional capital.

Expansion – Rebecca Arroyo