24 October 2017 – El Confidencial
One of the largest real estate investment funds in the Värde Partner group has purchased 52,000 m2 of space for offices in Barcelona. It has closed the operation this week, less than a month after the referendum that was held on 1 October. The real estate sector has been surprised that buyers have not scaled back their efforts during such a controversial week from a political point of view. Värde is spending more than €50 million on this purchase, according to sources in the real estate sector.
It is one of the largest commitments to Barcelona in the real estate market in recent times, not least because it is associated with a development project that will require a further investment of €70 million. Moreover, the new space will then have to be leased to tenants. If Barcelona has a future, Värde believes in it, beyond the political problems.
The operation has involved an auction for the assets, carried out by CB Richard Ellis, which has gone on for months. The key name for these assets was “Project Helix”. And bidders have been competing to buy land, with a surface area of almost 13,000 m2 in the Poblenou neighbourhood, in the business district known as 22@.
Värde is already developing other projects in Barcelona, given that it purchased Vía Célere and since that property developer already had housing projects in several parts of the Catalan capital, such as La Magoria –Gran Vía– and on Calle Aragón.
Värde Partners is a US fund that has acquired some significant positions in Spain in recent years. Its speciality is not only real estate and it moves assets under management amounting to more than $10,000 million.
In Spain, the firm’s activity is not limited to Cataluña, by any means; it has a strong presence right across Spain. In 2018, it plans to list Vía Célere on the stock market, once it has merged it with the real estate company DosPuntos.
Sources in the sector did not expect Operation Helix to be signed, after the events of 1 October and the political uncertainty surrounding the sovereign tension. Much smaller transactions have failed to cross the final hurdle for much less significant reasons. But to everyone’s surprise, failure was not an option this time and the Catalan families that owned the land took home their juicy cheques.
Very diversified in Spain
In addition to its assets in Barcelona, Värde Partners controls the Socimi La Finca Global Assets, which comprises the non-residential assets from the García Cereceda family worth €260 million. It also owns a complex on Calle Marcelo Spínola in Madrid, as well as Torre Suecia in Méndez Álvaro and several buildings in the centre of the capital.
In Barcelona, assets are much more scarce and so many real estate companies are entering the property development market, which has driven up the price of land, due to the scarcity caused by the lack of urban planning by the mayor Ada Colau. In this context, having land ready to build on its very valuable in the Catalan capital.
Project Helix may be even more valuable if an urban planning amendment that has been submitted is approved. That would allow Värde to allocate some of the buildable roof surface area (m2) to homes, in light of the current shortage of new homes in Barcelona.
Original story: El Confidencial (by Marcos Lamelas)
Translation: Carmel Drake