10 October 2017 – Expansión
One of the sectors that is being hardest hit by the insecurity generated in Cataluña following the referendum on 1 October is real estate. In just one week, the large companies in the sector have seen their stock market valuations decrease by €717 million and how the credit ratings agency Moody’s has issued warnings about the negative effect of the political tension on the growth of rental income, occupancy rates and asset valuations.
The Socimi that is most exposed to Cataluña is Merlin. The real estate giant led by Ismael Clemente owns assets worth almost €1,500 million in Cataluña. The real estate company in which Santander and BBVA own stakes is also one of the companies that has most backed this market over the last year, positioning the Catalan capital, together with Lisbon, as one of its markets for highest growth.
In the context of that strategy, at the beginning of the year, Merlin purchased the iconic skyscraper Torres Glóries – also known as Torre Agbar – for €142 million. The building, which has a gross leasable area of 37,614 m2, is one of the candidates to house the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which will abandon its current location in London due to Brexit. Sources in the sector consider that the events of recent days completely eliminate Barcelona from the running, in favour of its rivals in the bid: Amsterdam, Dublin, Bratislava, Copenhagen and Milan.
Another Socimi with a significant portion of its assets in Cataluña is Colonial. The real estate company, which is headquartered in Barcelona, has almost 10% of its assets in the region. In the office segment alone, it owns assets worth €827 million in Cataluña, making it its third market after Paris, with €6,144 million, and Madrid, with €1,339 million. Yesterday (Monday), Colonial convened an extraordinary meeting of the Board of Directors to consider moving its headquarters (and in the end, approved their move to Madrid).
One of the projects that Colonial has underway was announced at the beginning of the year, in the form of an alliance with the company Inmo, the real estate subsidiary of the Puig family, for the development of Plaza Europa (Barcelona), with an investment of €32 million. The plan to construct a 21-storey building with a surface area of 14,000 m2 will be undertaken on a plot of land owned by the Puigs. Moreover, at the beginning of the year, Colonial started work to build a turnkey office building in the 22@ district, which will involve a total investment of €77 million and which will be ready by the middle of 2018.
In terms of the other Socimis that are listed on the main stock market, Hispana holds assets in Cataluña worth €255 million at the end of June (…). Meanwhile, Axiare owns four assets in the region (…) worth just over €126 million; and two of the assets in Lar’s portfolio are located in Cataluña (…), with a combined value of €116 million.
(…) HNWIs have also been backing the Catalan market and, in particular, Pontegadea’s exposure to the region is significant. Amancio Ortega’s company does not disclose figures by country or autonomous region (…) however, in 2011 alone, it acquired three assets worth €233 million, including BBVA’s headquarters in Plaza Cataluña, for €100 million. It also owns important buildings on Paseo de Gràcia and Plaza Catalunya, and is the owner of the Inditex group’s largest stores.
Original story: Expansión (by R. Arroyo and M. Anglés)
Translation: Carmel Drake