Starwood Joins Forces With HI Partners To Invest €500M

14 March 2016 – Expansión

International investors are becoming increasingly interested in the Spanish hotel sector. The US investor group Starwood Capital has joined forces with HI Partners, the subsidiary of Banco Sabadell, to invest €500 million in the purchase of hotels in Spain, over the next three years.

According to market sources, Starwood and HI Partners will create a joint venture that will specialise in the acquisition of hotel assets located in the main tourist areas, such as the Costa del Sol, the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands, the Costa Brava and the Costa Dorada. The aim is to acquire 3-star and 4-star hotels that have more than 200 rooms. The vendors may be individual investors, as well as hotel chains interested in divesting their real estate assets.

Starwood Capital Group will control 70% of the joint venture, which will be implemented through the creation of a limited company. The US group – which already teamed up with Meliá in Spain in 2015 – will contribute funds through its Starwood Global Opportunity Fund.

Local partners

HI Partners will control the remaining 30% of the shares and will also take care of the management of the company, under the leadership of its CEO, Alejandro Hernández-Puértolas. Banco Sabadell owns a 99% stake in HI Partners and the remaining stake belongs to Hernández-Puértolas and two other founding partners of the hotel management and investment company: Sergio Carrascosa and Santiago Fisas. The three have extensive experience in the hotel sector, as they used to be involved with Reig Capital – the company that owns the Mandarin hotel in Barcelona – and other companies such as MedGroup and Stein Group.

The alliance is the result of numerous investment opportunities that currently exist in the hotel sector in Spain, which broke a historical record in 2015 with the sale of 143 hotels worth €2,650 million, more than double the investment volume recorded the year before. Listed Socimis, hotel chains and Spanish family offices accounted for 74% of the investment, but this year overseas investors are expected to gain in weight and the alliance between HI Partners and Starwood is a good example.

“The Spanish hotel market is very attractive for us due to the growing demand from domestic and international clients and the on-going recovery of the economy”, said Keith Evans, Vice-President of Starwood Capital. According to the executive, the firm has chosen HI “because it is a reputable manager with local experience”, which will allow us to fulfil the objective “of creating a portfolio of high quality hotels in which all of Spain’s main tourist destinations are represented”.

In June 2015, Starwood reached an agreement with Meliá to acquire a chain of holiday hotels, which included seven assets and 2,933 beachfront rooms. These hotels were transferred to a company in which the fund owns an 80% stake and the hotel chain the remaining 20% stake. Meliá’s idea is to re-launch its Sol brand as part of this initiative.

According to sources at Starwood, the two alliances signed in Spain to date will have different investment strategies. Since its creation, the private equity firm has invested more than €77,000 million in real estate assets all over the world; its portfolio contains 2,600 hotels.

Original story: Expansión (by Sergi Saborit)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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