Blackstone Puts a Portfolio of FIdere’s Homes Worth €150M-€200M Up For Sale

25 April 2019 – Expansión

The US fund Blackstone has launched the sale of a portfolio of homes belonging to its Socimi Fidere worth between €150 million and €200 million.

According to sources, several interested parties are already analysing the portfolio, whose perimeter may vary depending on the offers received. This sale forms part of a wider initiative by Blackstone to rotate some of the assets in its portfolio. The US fund has already put some of the offices owned by another Socimi Corona up for sale.

Since 2012, Blackstone has invested almost €24 billion in real estate in Spain, where it is the owner of several investment vehicles and management companies, including the Socimis Testa, Albirana and Torbal, as well as Hispania.

Original story: Expansión (by R. A.)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Blackstone Launches its 6th Socimi in Spain with 1,600+ Rental Homes

27 December 2018 – El Diario

Blackstone is increasing its position as the largest landlord in Spain. On Thursday, the vulture fund received approval to list its sixth Socimi, Euripo, on the stock market, which will make its debut with an initial value of €110 million. On its balance sheet, another 1,600 homes that will join the more than 20,000 properties that the fund already owns.

Euripo will make its debut on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB), the secondary market in Spain, where it will join other Socimis owned by the US fund, including Fidere, Albirana, Corona and Torbel. Blackstone also recently took control of 80% of Testa, the largest rental home company in Spain, ownership of which it shares with Banco Santander.

In this way, almost one in ten Socimis in Spain have Blackstone as a majority shareholder. As is usual in the operation of this fund, Euripo is owned by a company belonging to Blackstone that is based in Luxembourg.

In this case, Blackstone is listing a portfolio comprising more than 2,000 real estate assets including homes, garages and commercial premises proceeding from the divestment of two financial entities, BBVA and the now extinct Banco Popular. Of the total portfolio, it has direct ownership of 1,900 assets, whilst another 400 are in the hands of a related company, which will likely end up on Euripo’s balance sheet, according to comments included in the IPO document.

There are currently more than 60 Socimis listed in Spain on the MAB, the main stock market and the Ibex 35. Blackstone has been the most active investment fund, especially in the rental home segment, where it controls almost a quarter of the companies currently listed.

The set of assets that Blackstone is debuting on the stock market with this new Socimi is worth around €215 million, of which half are located in Madrid and Barcelona. The remainder are distributed across 35 Spanish provinces, according to the aforementioned IPO document.

Currently, less than 30% of the properties of this company are occupied. For this reason, the company expects to increase its revenues by improving the occupancy ratios and by increasing the rents charged for each occupied home by between 4% and 5%. Moreover, it says that 7% of its assets are illegally occupied.

Original story: El Diario (by Diego Larrouy)

Translation: Carmel Drake

2018: The Year that Blackstone was Crowned the King of the Spanish Real Estate Sector

17 December 2018 – Eje Prime

Blackstone wants it all and it wants it now. That is the sensation that the US investment fund, the new king of the Spanish real estate market, is transmitting throughout the real estate sector. Its portfolio is worth more than €20 billion after an accelerated period of purchases during 2018.

One of the objectives of the US fund manager has been, precisely, to expand its network in the Spanish real estate sector by entering markets such as the logistics segment. At the beginning of December, the company closed its latest operation in the country with the purchase of a logistics portfolio from Neinver for €300 million.

Nevertheless, the deal involving the giant Neinver is by no means the most significant operation that Blackstone has undertaken this year. Over the last twelve months, the group has taken control of Hispania, to grow in the hotel sector; it has acquired 80% of Testa, to manage thousands of rental homes, and in the logistics sector, it has accumulated 1 million m2 of space with the 55 assets from Neinver and the purchase of an industrial portfolio from Lar España.

Blackstone has disbursed almost €4 billion in the Spanish real estate sector this year, a figure that far exceeds the €127.5 million that it spent on its first investment in the domestic market in 2013. Moreover, that debut was not free from controversy, given that the group purchased 18 residential developments, containing 1,860 social housing units, which the Town Hall of Madrid sold the fund through the Municipal Housing and Land Company of Madrid (Emvsa).

Five years later, Blackstone is one of the largest owners of residential assets in Spain and the leader of the hotel sector. It leapt to first position in the hotel market ranking this year following its successful takeover of the Socimi Hispania. The company paid €1.99 billion for that vehicle, managed by Azora. With that operation, the fund added 46 assets and almost 13,150 rooms in Spain to a portfolio that it started to grow in 2017 with the purchase of HI Partners, the hotel arm of Banco Sabadell, for €630 million. In total, the manager owns 63 assets and almost 18,000 hotel rooms across Spain.

Hispania also provided Blackstone with residential assets worth €230 million, as well as 25 office buildings whose market value exceeds €600 million. Also in that segment, the company added the iconic Planeta office building in Barcelona to its portfolio during 2018, which it purchased from the Lara family in July for €210 million.

Spain, 20% of its global portfolio

Today, Spain accounts for 20% of Blackstone’s global investment. In total, the US firm owns property worth almost USD 120,000 million (€105,387 million) around the world. This real estate giant has become the largest unlisted real estate company in Spain (…).

The superiority of Blackstone’s portfolio in Spain with respect to those of the large domestic real estate firms is clear. The two largest players, Merlin and Colonial, are ranked within the top 15 Socimis in Europe and, yet, their portfolios are worth just half of that of the fund, at €11.785 billion and €11.19 billion, respectively.

Santander’s best friend

As well as mixing with other real estate players, Blackstone has made friends with some of the Spanish financial institutions. The banks, big losers in the previous real estate cycle, have worked hard over the last two years to place their property with the highest bidder, taking advantage of the new boom in the residential market.

In this way, in 2017, Banco Santander agreed with Blackstone the largest operation involving the sale of toxic assets from the real estate sector in the country. The fund manager purchased 51% of Popular’s property, a portfolio with €30,000 million in assets.

The relationship with the bank owned by the Botín family has been strengthened in 2018 with Project Quasar, the real estate firm created by the financial institution and the fund. The joint venture received a capital injection amounting to €300 million in May. Through this vehicle, the transfer of Popular’s assets is being carried out.

In order to place this property into circulation, as part of the operation in 2017, Blackstone also acquired the bank’s servicer, Aliseda, led by Eduard Mendiluce (…), who also manages the Socimi Albirana.

Albirana Properties is one of four residential Socimis that Blackstone currently has listed on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB). The others are Fidere Patrimonio, Corona Patrimonial and Torbel Investments.

Original story: Eje Prime (by Jabier Izquierdo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Blackstone Crowns its Position as the Largest Property Owner in Spain

18 September 2018 – Cinco Días

Blackstone likes Spain. And specifically, the Spanish real estate market. In recent years, the fund manager has made several large purchases linked to property in the country, displaying its enormous financial capacity to handle operations of any size.

In fact, the fund has now become the largest real estate owner in Spain, where it owns assets worth more than €20 billion, according to the figure compiled by Europa Press, placing it well ahead of the largest Socimis, such as Merlin (€11.785 billion) and Colonial (€11.19 billion).

The fund quickly saw an opportunity with the Testa operation, given that some of the shareholders wanted to exit the company, such as the clear case of Merlin, and the willingness of Santander and BBVA to sell.

The acquisition of 50.01% of Testa Residencial from Merlin, BBVA and Santander for €948 million – an operation that is still open to the other shareholders – followed the very recent purchase of the Socimi Hispania, a transaction worth more than €1.9 billion. Initially, Blackstone agreed to acquire the 16% stake owned by the investor George Soros, and then it launched a takeover bid for the rest of the company. In that case, it acquired 46 hotels, which were added to the 15 it had already acquired from Sabadell and whereby the largest owner of rooms in Spain was born.

In July, Blackstone acquired a logistics portfolio from the Socimi Lar España for €120 million. And recently, it was revealed that Blackstone and Centerbridge had teamed up to submit an offer for Santander’s headquarters in Boadilla del Monte (Madrid) amounting to €3 billion, in a bid that ended at midnight yesterday.

In Spain, Blackstone’s largest operation was undoubtedly the purchase from Santander of 51% of Popular’s real estate business for €5 billion. But that was not its only bank-related deal. It also acquired the portfolio linked to the property of the now extinct entity CatalunyaCaixa. The fund created the company Anticipa Real Estate to manage those toxic assets and it has been putting some of those foreclosed homes up for rent through its various Socimis: Albirana and Torbel (flats acquired from Sabadell), which are both listed on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB).

Moreover, one of Blackstone’s first operations was also one of the most contested politically by the leftist groups, when in 2014, it acquired 1,800 social housing properties from the Town Hall of Madrid for around €130 million – those homes currently form part of the portfolio owned by the Socimi Fidere.

Blackstone entered the property market in Spain in 2014 on the hunt for bargains following the crisis, firstly focusing on bank portfolios. But the recent acquisitions of Hispania and Testa take the US giant in another direction. There is enormous liquidity in the market, which has given a great investment capacity to these funds. Now, it is sounding out opportunities in which to invest in through its funds in real estate as an alternative to public debt with higher returns.

This New York-based firm, which is led by Stephen Schwarzman (pictured above) as its President and CEO, is the largest manager of real estate funds in the world, with $19.4 billion in assets under management, according to its results for the first half of the year.

Original story: Cinco Días

Translation: Carmel Drake

Blackstone has Created a RE Giant in Spain Worth €20bn

4 September 2018 – Expansión

In just five years, the US fund has become the largest owner of hotels and one of the biggest landlords in the country. Moreover, it manages several major mortgage portfolios.

Blackstone made its first foray into the Spanish real estate market in July 2013, with the purchase from the Municipal Housing and Land Company of Madrid (EMVS) of 18 residential developments, containing 1,860 homes in total, in the Madrilenian neighbourhoods of Carabanchel, Centro, Villa de Vallecas and Villaverde for almost €126 million.

Since then, the US fund, one of the largest investment firms in the world, has turned the Spanish real estate sector into one of its favourite destinations for investment, encouraged by the boom that the market in Spain has experienced over the last five years.

Blackstone’s dominance in the Spanish market is now unquestionable. Since 2012, the US fund has acquired property in the country worth almost €20 billion and it is now the owner of several listed vehicles, as well as of some of the main asset managers in the country.

With that figure, which accounts for 20% of the €100 billion that Blackstone Real Estate has invested around the world, the firm is the country’s largest private manager of real estate assets, including properties and portfolios of mortgages.

In Spain, the fund was one of the first to back the residential segment when the real estate market was still struggling and it has been one of the most active players in the purchase of asset portfolios containing NPLs and REOs from financial institutions.

The fund’s purchase of homes in Madrid from EMVS in 2013 was soon followed by the acquisition of another 1,000 social housing properties from Sareb and FCC. Those homes are owned by Fidere, the fund’s first Socimi, which made its debut on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB) in 2015.

In the same year, Blackstone completed its first major operation with the purchase from Catalunya Caixa of a portfolio comprising 40,000 loans in total, worth €6.4 billion. Blackstone paid €3.5 billion for that portfolio, known as Hercules.

A year later, the US fund purchased the Catalan entity’s real estate manager (without any assets), which was later renamed Anticipa.

Nowadays, that company manages the more than 12,000 rental homes which Blackstone has been purchasing from the banks in different portfolios and which it controls through the Socimi Albirana, which made its stock market debut in 2016, and Torbel Investments.

Popular’s property

Two years after purchasing the Hercules portfolio, Blackstone hit the headlines again with the purchase from Santander of 51% of Banco Popular’s real estate business, with a book value of around €10.3 billion. With that acquisition, Blackstone increased its commitment to Spain and become the most active overseas investment fund in the country. To group together those assets, months later, Blackstone and Santander created Project Quasar Investment, a company that also includes the marketing platform Aliseda (…).

In addition, (…) the US fund has launched itself into the hotel segment, to take advantage of the good times being enjoyed in the tourist sector at the moment. Blackstone’s first incursion into that market in Spain was the acquisition of HI Partners from Sabadell last summer for €630 million. Through that platform, Blackstone owns 17 hotels in Spain comprising more than 4,500 rooms.

Takeover of Hispania

A few months after that acquisition, the US investment firm made a bid for Hispania, the Spanish Socimi specialising in hotels managed by Azora, which owns 46 assets and almost 13,150 rooms in Spain (…). Following that operation, which valued the Socimi at €1.99 billion, the US fund controls almost 91% of Hispania.

As well as hotels, Hispania owns 25 office buildings, with a market value of more than €600 million and residential assets worth €230 million, which now also form part of the fund’s assets (…).

Blackstone is also a star player in the logistics sector. The fund currently controls 10% of the Pan-European platform Logicor, which manages approximately 1.2 million m2 of logistics space in Spain (…).

Also, in July, it purchased five logistics warehouses from the Socimi Lar (…) for almost €120 million.

The fund’s most recent purchase was the headquarters of Planeta, located on Avenida Diagonal in Barcelona, which it acquired from the Lara family for €210 million (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Just Four Socimis Own Almost 20,000 Rental Homes in Spain

22 July 2018 – El Diario

The debates over rental housing, rising prices and the risk of a new real estate bubble are all continuing to rage. Whilst Pedro Sánchez’s government has started to outline its new policy to avoid a hike in prices, investors are not letting up in their frenzy to take positions in the sector. Proof of that is the continuous trickle of new listed Socimis specialising in the residential rental sector.

One of the latest entities to hit the headlines in this regard is Testa Residencial, whose General Shareholders’ Meeting approved its debut on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB) this week. That secondary market, specialising in Socimis and companies with smaller market capitalisations, will have 19 companies that either specialise in housing or own a significant portfolio of rental homes. Together they own a volume of assets that now comprise almost 24,000 homes, with a combined value of just over €4.1 billion.

Specifically, Testa is going to make its debut on the MAB as the largest rental home real estate company on the secondary market. Following its most recent operations, the Socimi now has 10,573 homes. The entity is owned by BBVA, Santander and Merlin, amongst other shareholders. It is followed, in terms of the number of assets owned, by Albirana, Fidere and Torbel, the three residential Socimis owned by the vulture fund Blackstone, which together own more than 9,300 homes.

Those four companies alone own almost 20,000 rental homes, according to data registered by the companies themselves in their issue brochures or annual accounts. That figure coincides with the plan outlined by the Minister for Development, José Luis Ábalos, which includes the creation by the Government of a stock of public housing for rent over the next four to six years.

Another of the most important Socimis in this field is Témpore, a subsidiary of the bad bank, Sareb, in which the company that owns the toxic assets of the rescued savings banks has placed some of its best homes and which made its stock market debut in March. It owns almost 1,400 homes and announced recently that it will be increasing its portfolio with new assets from Sareb.

Madrid is the province that is home to the most homes owned by the almost twenty Socimis that are listed on the MAB, accounting for 47% of the total (…). It is followed by the province of Barcelona, with 22%, and to a lesser extent, Valencia, with just over 4%. Together, those three provinces account for almost three-quarters of the assets owned by those entities.

Rising yields

The real estate consultancy firm JLL justifies this interest from the Socimis in rental housing by the significant returns that they generate. According to that firm, over the last year, rental homes generated a yield of 11.4%, compared with 10-year public bonds, for example, which generated a return of 1.6%. “Our forecasts indicate that yields will grow by 6.1% over the next three years”, they add, although they highlight that there are differences by region.

JLL specifies that the market is “highly fragmented” despite the “profound transformation” that is happening in the rental housing sector due to the development of Socimis and the arrival of institutional investors. The consultancy firm points out that these types of real estate investors are faced with the limitation of a shortage of entire buildings available for rent, a model that they prefer because it allows for a more efficient management. For that reason, they say that investors such as Testa and Azora are looking to grow their portfolios by building new rental homes in collaboration with property developers and construction companies.

Another noteworthy point about this growth in the number of Socimis dedicated to rental housing is the ownership of the companies. Almost half of the real estate companies that are listed on the MAB, eight to be precise, are controlled by companies that have their headquarters in Luxembourg. Such is the case of Albirana, Elaia, Elix Vintage, Fidere, Hadley, and Torbel, a company that is also indirectly controlled from the Cayman Islands. Another of the companies is located in The Netherlands (Barcino) and two others, Galil and VBare, are linked to Israeli investors (…).

Original story: El Diario (by Diego Larrouy)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Investors Increase their Commitment to Rental Housing

3 May 2018 – Expansión

The boom in the residential market, the changing habits in society, the difficulties involved in accessing housing and the increase in mobility have all led to a rebound in the residential rental market in Spain. According to the latest data from Eurostat, more than 22% of Spanish households live in rented properties, although that figure is still well behind the average for the European Union (34%).

In addition, the State Housing Plan, which seeks to encourage rental amongst the younger generation, and the greater professionalisation of the sector, is going to serve to further boost the rental market in Spain.

The change in trend, as well as the increase in residential rental yields, has compelled investors to analyse this business as an alternative to other real estate assets such as offices, shopping centres and hotels.

To lead this market, certain players have redoubled their commitment to rental housing, such as the case of Testa Residencial – the Socimi in which Santander, BBVA, Acciona and Merlin hold stakes – which owns almost 9,300 residential rental properties, with a gross value of €2.275 billion and annual rental income of €72.2 million.

Stock market debuts

That Socimi is preparing its leap onto the market, which will be carried out through an offer of its existing shares (OPV) and an issue of new shares (OPS) aimed exclusively at qualified investors.

One of the first players to back this business was Blackstone, which purchased 18 residential developments, containing 1,860 homes in total, in the Madrilenian neighbourhoods of Carabanchel, Centro, Villa de Vallecas and Villaverde from the Municipal Housing and Land Company of Madrid (EMVS) in July 2013. In 2015, the fund debuted its Socimi Fidere on the MAB (Alternative Investment Market) with 2,688 social housing properties, including those acquired from the EMVS two years earlier. Currently, Fidere owns around 6,400 homes for rent.

The fund also debuted Albirana on the MAB in March 2017 with a portfolio of 5,000 rental homes proceeding from Catalunya Banc loans. Another star of the real estate sector that has detected an opportunity in the rental sector to offload its assets is the Company for the Management of Assets proceeding from the Restructuring of the Banking System (Sareb) with Témpore Properties. That Socimi debuted on the MAB in April with a portfolio of 1,553 residential units, which have a gross value of €175 million.

Another player is Vivenio Residencial, the investment vehicle created by the Dutch pension fund APG together with Renta Corporación. Vivenio has invested around €200 million in the purchase of properties and now owns more than 1,000 rental homes. The Socimi plans to debut on the stock market in 2019.

According to data from Armabex, in 2017, five new Socimis debuted on the stock market with residential assets in their portfolio. In total, at the end of last year, 16 Socimis held rental homes in their portfolios, including, in addition to Fidere and Albirana, Vitruvio, VBare, Colón Vivienda and Domo.

In addition to the listed Socimis, other players in the sector include the real estate managers. One of the largest by volume of assets under management is Anticipa Real Estate, owned by Blackstone. Anticipa currently manages 12,000 homes proceeding from banks acquired by the fund during the crisis. Anticipa manages Albirana’s homes, amongst others.

Another star in the rental home manager sector in Spain is Azzam Vivienda – a subsidiary of Azora – which has more than 11,000 homes under management distributed across 140 buildings.

Azora, which will make its debut on the Madrid stock market on 11 May, plans to raise up to €500 million from its stock market debut to co-invest with its partners in various assets, including in the residential sector.

New players

The company founded by Concha Osácar and Fernando Gumuzio in 2003, was managing €1.5 billion in residential assets at the end of last year, which represented 33.4% of its total portfolio. It plans to increase its footprint in the sector to have between €1.3 billion and €1.6 billion under management by 2022 in homes, accommodation for the elderly and assets relating to healthcare.

Despite the increasing prominence of the rental sector, the business is still very fragmented and one of the challenges for the sector is to gain scale in order to compete. Juan Manuel Acosta, CEO of Greystar in Spain, said in an interview with Expansión in February that the US real estate investment firm is looking for opportunities to become one of the largest operators in the residential rental market in Spain.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Blackstone To Merge Popular & Sabadell’s Hotels To Create Tourism Giant

18 October 2017 – El Confidencial

Blackstone has surprised the market once again with the purchase of the hotel company HI Partners from Banco Sabadell for €630.7 million; the operation will turn the fund into one of the major players in the Spanish tourism sector overnight. Nevertheless, this acquisition is actually just the tip of the iceberg of a much larger objective, which is directly linked to the largest real estate operation seen in Europe in recent times: the €30,000 million in toxic assets that Blackstone acquired from Santander-Popular in the summer.

That huge portfolio, comprising foreclosed properties and non-performing loans, contained €800 million linked to hotel assets, some of which Blackstone wants to use to fatten up HI Partners’ portfolio, according to sources in the know. Those same sources define that move as a medium-term strategy, which will allow it to create a hotel giant, capable of competing with other large platforms such as Hispania, before debuting it on the stock market in a few years time.

Although the fund analysed its purchase of Sabadell hotels as a stand-alone operation, Blackstone’s roadmap forecasts the possible generation of synergies with its other large portfolio of hotel assets in Spain, in other words, those proceeding from Banco Popular.

As El Confidencial published, when Blackstone definitively closed the purchase of 51% of the Santander-Popular portfolio, the fund’s objective was to gradually divide it up, taking advantage of the range of vehicles that it already owns in Spain, such as the Socimis Fidere, Albirana and Corona Patrimonial, and undertake direct sales of both assets and debt portfolios.

HI Partners now forms part of that same strategy. The plan is to transfer only those hotels that comply with the group’s business model, which focuses on high category coastal hotels and very selective urban establishments. The Hilton Inn Sevilla, Gran Hotel La Toja in Pontevedra, Tamisa Golf in Mijas and Hotel Ayre in Oviedo are some of the assets that were held under the Popular umbrella.

Nevertheless, given that the bulk of this portfolio is debt whose collateral are these establishments, the transfer of the assets chosen to form part of HI Partners will have to be performed gradually, on an asset by asset basis, depending on the progress of the negotiations regarding the loan status in each case. Blackstone has time on its side since its objective with these acquisitions is to take advantage of the growth curve of the Spanish tourism sector and to do so through an asset repositioning strategy.

Management team

After selling HI Partners, along with its 14 best establishments, Sabadell will now continue with more than a dozen lower category hotels under its umbrella, which it plans to transfer gradually. All of the bank’s debt secured by hotel collateral also remained inside its perimeter for the time being; until now that was being managed by the team led by Alejandro Hernández-Puértolas and Santiago Fisas, and it will probably end up being sold off through Solvia.

The HI Partners management team will continue to be linked to the hotel group even after the completion of the sale to Blackstone, once the operation has received the green light from the Competition authorities. The team will face the challenge of continuing to make the company grow by repositioning the hotels, like they have been doing since 2015, in line with Blackstone’s plans for Popular’s establishments.

Original story: El Confidencial (by R. Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Anticipa Wants To Become Spain’s Largest Rental Home Manager

3 April 2017 – El Economista

Anticipa, the real estate subsidiary of the US fund Blackstone, wants to become one of the largest rental home managers in Spain. To achieve its objective, the company plans to consolidate its assets in different Socimis, which will be listed on the MAB, according to comments made to elEconomista by sources close to the fund.

Anticipa is the former real estate platform of Catalunya Caixa, which was acquired by Blackstone in 2014. That same year, the fund signed the purchase of its first major mortgage portfolio from the same entity. Known at the time as Project Hércules, the operation involved the transfer of 40,000 problem loans, for which Blackstone paid €3,615 million.

Since the acquisition was closed definitively, in April 2015, Anticipa has been in charge of managing these assets along with those from another six portfolios, which have a combined value of €7,000 million.

According to the same sources, Blackstone’s objective is to continue acquiring portfolios to reach 17,000 rental homes by the end of this year, which would make its subsidiary one of the largest residential managers in the country.

Anticipa already has 12,000 homes up for rent or in the process of being put up for rent in the short term and has placed a package of 5,000 units on the market through the Socimi Albirana, which debuted on the stock market last week. Those assets, located mainly Barcelona and Madrid, were inherited from Project Hércules.

In order to continue implementing its strategy, the fund is already working on the launch of a new Socimi, given that it considers that to be the most efficient way of structuring its portfolio. Socimis have a special tax regime in Spain and pay Corporation Tax at zero percent. In addition to Albirana, Blackstone registered two other Socimis last year, under the names Pegarena and Tourmalet.

Led by Eduardo Mendiluce Fradera, Anticipa has been in charge of managing the enormous portfolio of loans to individual borrowers, on a case by case basis, which it inherited from Catalunya Caixa.

To handle this task, the firm, which already had extensive experience in the real estate sector, expanded its workforce to incorporate more financial profiles, growing the team to include 330 professionals.

The 40,000 mortgages that Blackstone purchased in 2014 include loans with varying degrees of delinquency, from up to date to NPLs. Of the total, 3% have involved social housing cases, but none have ended in eviction.

Since Anticipa began managing this portfolio two years ago, it has managed to reach 10,000 agreements, of which the majority are “daciones en pago” and the remainder are debt restructurings.

Having freed up the asset, the firm’s objective is to allocate around 70-75% of its homes to rent, and to sell the rest – generally, it will sell those homes that are located in places where there is no demand for rental properties. (…).

Original story: El Economista (by Alba Brualla)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Spain’s Socimis Place Their Focus On Housing

28 March 2017 – Expansión

Three years after their launch, Spain’s listed real estate investment companies (Socimis) have set their sights firmly on the residential sector, with the launch of firms dedicated exclusively to that market, and the implementation of high profile projects to rival the large players in the sector.

“This phenomenon is mainly driven by supply and demand factors. From the point of view of demand, Spain has been a country where people have traditionally preferred to buy rather than rent. Nevertheless, over the last few years, we have seen a marked increase in the percentage of the population who prefers to rent and around 22% of Spaniards now opt to lease a home, up by 10% from a decade ago”, explains Alberto Valls, Partner in Financial Advisory at Deloitte.

This “clear rising trend” in demand for rental homes in Spain is coming up against limited specialist supply, with barely any companies dedicated to leasing properties in a professional way or with a particularly noteworthy portfolio of homes. “They are responding to a need to professionalise the rental housing market in order to provide high-quality products and services to tenants, in the face of growing demand for this kind of housing compared with home ownership”, said Samuel Población, National Director of Residential and Land at CBRE.

Investment in good locations

One such company is Vitruvio. That Socimi debuted on the stock market in July last year, specialising in residential buildings and offices located along the Ayalá-Colón-Sagasta thoroughfare of Madrid. “Vitruvio does what investors in real estate have always done: we buy in good locations, we secure tenants that generate rental income and we take on little debt so as to avoid running into difficulties in times of crisis, although we earn less in the boom times” (…), explains Joaquín López-Chicheri, CEO at Vitruvio.

“The fact that the landlord is a listed company is irrelevant for the tenant, a priori. The differentiating factor is the specialist management that larger vehicles can offer and the benefits that tenants receive in aspects such as the professionalisation of the customer services, which, will likely, result in quicker and more effective responses to possible incidents. Those players that manage to improve the quality of their service will have a substantial competitive advantage when it comes to capturing the growing volume of demand”, says Valls.

Last Wednesday, the thirty-second Socimi, Albirana, debuted on the MAB. Managed by Anticipa, the company owns thousands of assets located all over Spain, especially in Cataluña and Madrid, of which almost 5,000 are homes.

In addition to the listed companies, there is another firm that, although it has not debuted on the stock market yet, is destined to be a leader in the residential rental market in Spain, namely, Testa Residencial. The company, which emerged from the assets that resulted from Merlin Properties’ purchase of Metrovacesa and Testa, has turned itself into a vehicle for channelling thousands of homes that were previously owned by its shareholder banks: Santander, BBVA and Popular. Its portfolio contains more than 8,000 units, worth €1,750 million (…).

Luxury properties

Meanwhile, in the luxury neighbourhood of Salamanca in Madrid, overlooking Calles Juan Bravo, Maldonado, Lagasca and Claudio Coello, the Socimi Lar España and its main shareholder, the fund manager Pimco, are developing Lagasca 99 (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake