What Has Become Of The Property Kings?

23 April 2015 – Expansión

The individuals that owned the large real estate companies during the boom years have suffered from sharp drops in sales and in the value of their assets. The largest has filed for bankruptcy and is now at the mercy of its creditors.

The largest land owner in Spain. The largest real estate company in Europe. Those are some of the descriptions that were used to refer to the large Spanish real estate companies almost a decade ago. At their respective helms were businessmen such as Luis Portillo, Rafael Santamaría and Joaquín Rivero (pictured above, left). As such, they were some of the hardest hit by the burst of the real estate bubble in 2007. After generating revenues of hundreds of millions of euros from the sale of homes, these companies and their managers were unable to cope with the high levels of indebtedness that they had accumulated during the boom years, and so found themselves in precarious situations.

But they are not the only ones who suffered from the effects of the sudden change in the sector. Rivero, a businessman from Jerez, is still dealing with the consequences of his stint at Metrovacesa, fighting a hard battle in the courts against his former partner, Román Sanahuja (pictured above, right), regarding the separation process that resulted in Rivero ending up with Gecina and his former partner with Metrovacesa. Sanahuja’s inability to pay the debts of his family business, Sacresa, meant that he lost control of Metrovacesa to the banks in 2010.

Another company that grew from strength to strength during the boom was Afirma (now Quabit). The company was created from the merger of the former entity Astroc, controlled by Enrique Bañeulos, Landscape and Rayet, a company led by Félix Abánades. After various refinancing processes, the businessman from La Alcarria managed to move forward with the listed real estate company Quabit. However, the same thing did not happen with its parent company, the construction group Rayet, which is now trying to exit from its bankruptcy process.

Francisco Hernando, known as El Pocero, was another one of the most well-known developers. Hernando developed a residential estate in the town of Seseña (Toledo), where he was planning to construct more than 15,000 homes. In the end, just under 5,000 homes were built; 3,000 of those ended up in the hands of the creditor bank as Hernando was unable to pay his debts.

Original story: Expansión (by R. Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

53