31 January 2017 – Cinco Días
Hotels, logistics assets, offices, shopping centres. The four largest Socimis – Merlin, Hispania, Lar España and Axiare – are entering their third year of life, and as they do so, they are embarking upon a new phase of specialisation by type of asset – the aim is to make their management more effective and ensure that they remain attractive to large international funds. (…).
Between them, Merlin, Hispania, Axiare and Lar España now own assets worth almost €14,000 million – they have created small empires out of nothing.
Hispania looks set to become one of the major stars of 2017 with a series of operations planned to strengthen its already high degree of specialisation in hotels. The Socimi, in which the magnate George Soros owns a 16% stake, has a portfolio worth €1,793 million (including its most recent purchases at their acquisition prices). 61% of the portfolio value relates to hotels and most are located in the Canary Islands (70%) and the Balearic Islands (16%).
The experts forecast that this company, managed by Azora and led by Concha Osácar, will put the majority of its offices and residential assets on the market, and at the same time, will continue to buy up hotels. (…).
Meanwhile, Merlin has taken steps to divest its residential and hotel assets, transferring them to Testa and Foncière des Murs, respectively, and is continuing to expand its core portfolio with its recent purchase of the Torre Agbar office block in Barcelona for €142 million. The Socimi’s portfolio currently comprises offices (48%), shopping centres (18%) – Merlin is now one of the major players in this segment – retail premises (22%) and logistics assets (5%). Experts consider that the latter have enormous potential to generate higher returns for this Socimi.
Axiare, led by Luis López Herrera-Oria, has already focused heavily on offices, which account for 73% of its €1,300 million portfolio. It has enhanced its presence significantly in recent weeks through its acquisitions of the headquarters of PSA, Cuatrecasas, McKinsey and Vocento for €242 million in total.
The Socimi’s high decree of specialisation in offices has led Colonial to take advantage of the fund Perry Capital’s departure from its share capital to acquire 15% of the Socimi. Some in the sector view this move as a precursor to a possible takeover bid, but the Catalan real estate company has denied the claim repeatedly. (…).
Finally, Lar, led by José Luis del Valle and Miguel Pereda, has managed to specialise mainly in shopping centres, which now account for 75% of its €1,201 million portfolio. With shareholders that include Pimco and Franklin Templeton, the company owns 17 assets including shopping centres, retail parks and hypermarkets.
In just three years, Lar España has risen up the ranks to become the third largest owner of shopping centres in Spain, behind Unibail and Merlin. (…).
Original story: Cinco Días (by Alfonso Simón Ruiz)
Translation: Carmel Drake