Blackstone Finalises the Purchase of Torre Tarragona from UBS

5 June 2019 – Cinco Días

The US fund Blackstone is negotiating the purchase of Torre Tarragona in Barcelona from UBS, according to several sources in the sector. The deal looks set to become the third major operation in the city’s office market this year after Naturgy sold its headquarters to Colonial and Telefónica sold its Diagonal 00 property to Emperador.

UBS Global Asset Management acquired Torre Tarragona in 2015 for €72 million from Omega Capital, the family office owed by Alicia Koplowitz. Now, having invested €10 million in a comprehensive renovation, the Swiss bank is hoping to sell the property for between €100 million and €110 million.

Torre Tarragona is located close to the Sants train station in the Catalan capital and spans a surface area of 18,150m2 spread over 19 floors. It has 250 parking spaces and its main tenant is Pepsico, together with other companies, such as the technological firm Acens (a subsidiary of Telefónica), Quercus and the laboratory Gentic.

Original story: Cinco Días (by Alfonso Simón Ruiz)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Chinese Group Gaw Capital Joins Forces with Alicia Koplowitz to Target Hotel Sector

25 July 2018 – Expansión

The Chinese fund manager Gaw Capital Partners is making its debut in the Spanish hotel sector hand in hand with Omega Capital, the family office owned by Alicia Koplowitz. Specifically, the investment firm specialising in real estate assets has purchased 50% of the Hospes Hotel Group, worth €125 million, and has created a joint venture together with Omega Capital – with which it will share the ownership – for the development and expansion of the Spanish chain.

Before the entry of Gaw Capital Partners, the hotel chain was owned in equal parts by Fonsagrada – a company owned by the Koplowitz family -; the Areyhold group, owned by the Yera family; and Telescom, owned by the Hernández López family.

Hospes, founded in 2010, owns nine boutique hotels located in Alicante, Cáceres, Córdoba, Granada, Madrid, Mallorca, Salamanca, Sevilla and Valencia. The company’s establishments, which are all four- and five-star properties, are located in unique buildings that are rich with historical and architectural heritage.

According to the results for 2016 (the latest available in the Mercantile Registry), the chain generated an operating profit of €10.5 million, up by 18% compared to the previous year, and sales of €30 million.

Growth in Europe

The purchase of 50% of Hospes by the Chinese fund has been carried out through the fund European Hospitality Fund I, managed by GCP Hospitality, its hotel division.

GCP Hospitality, founded by the shareholders of Gaw Capital Partners and by Christophe Vielle in 2008, currently manages 39 assets (hotels, apartments and university campuses) and 7,450 rooms around the world.

GCP Hospitality, led by Vielle, has regional offices in Bangkok (Thailand), Beijing (China), Hong Kong (China), Perth (Australia), San Francisco (USA), Singapore and Rangoon (Myanmar).

Vielle, CEO of GCP Hospitality Management, explains to Expansión that, with the good outlook for the European tourism industry, the company is “actively” studying ways of expanding its portfolio across the Old Continent.

“We will take advantage of the reputation of the Hospes Hotel Group and our international network to raise the profile of the brand”, says the CEO GCP Hospitality Management.

In this sense, the evolution of the Spanish tourism sector in recent years has been spectacular. Spain recorded a new milestone last year with the arrival of 82 million international tourists and has also registered eight consecutive years of growth in terms of tourism GDP. For Vielle, the acquisition of Hospes Hotel Group is an example of the “solid track record” of GCP Hospitality in the launch and management of successful hotels and first-rate brands.

Since its creation in 2005, Gaw Capital Partners has raised almost USD 10 billion (€8.557 billion) and currently has USD 18 billion (€15.403 billion) in assets under management. The fund manager, which is investing in different segments of the real estate market, has a significant presence in the Asia Pacific region and in the USA.

Promoting the brand

Meanwhile, the alliance with the Chinese investment fund manager allows Omega Capital to boost its investments in the tourism sector.

Hospes is not the only firm that Koplowitz is backing in the hotel sector through her family office. Specifically, Omega Capital, together with the Orient Express group (now Belmond) purchased the Madrilenian Hotel Ritz for €125 million in 2003. More than a decade later, in 2015, Omega Capital and Belmond sold that iconic hotel to a consortium formed by the Olayan family, from Saudi Arabia, and the Mandarin group, which manages the establishment, for €132 million. The property is currently closed for refurbishment.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Alicia Koplowitz Considers Buying Barclays’ HQ In Spain

2 November 2016 – Expansión

Omega Capital, the investment vehicle owned by Alicia Koplowitz, is analysing strengthening its presence in the real estate market, taking advantage of the boom in the sector at the moment. It is considering submitting a bid for Barclays’ headquarters in Spain, located right in the heart of Madrid.

The office building in question is located at number 1, Plaza de Colón, opposite the Torres de Colón – the 116m-tall twin skyscrapers owned by Mutua Madrileña -. The property is worth between €40 million and €60 million, according to market sources.

The building has a surface area of around 3,900 m2 spread over three floors – ground, first and second -, and a terrace with spectacular views over the central Madrileñian square.

The property was taken over by Barclays when the British financial institution acquired Banco Valladolid in the 1980s.

More than two decades later, the banking entity has now decided to put the iconic building up for sale and has engaged the real estate consultancy CBRE to advise it during the process. Several investors have already expressed an interest in the property, in addition to the company owned by Alicia Koplowitz. Sources at the consultancy firm declined to comment about the sales process or the possible candidates for acquiring the property.

The British bank, which is considering remaining as a tenant of the building for a few months following the sale, until it finds a new location for its headquarters in Spain, is using this operation to take advantage of the investor appetite for well-located office buildings in Spain’s capital and whereby generate cash.

The lack of buildings in the prime area of Madrid has caused the appeal of them to increase given the supply shortage and the problems involved in carrying out new constructions in the city centre. One of the most high profile purchases in recent months involved Pontegadea’s purchase of Torre Foster.

The British entity indicated recently that it has detected considerable appetite for the property on Plaza Colón and it had received informal queries regarding its sale.

Barclays also said that it is considering the option of relocating its headquarters to a place that offers a better service “in terms of facilities, technology and comfort” for the entity, in a property that is aligned with the needs of its corporate and investment banking business.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Koplowitz Finalises Sale Of Torre Tarragona To UBS For €80M

22 July 2015 – El Confidencial

Alicia Koplowitz, through her investment vehicle Omega Capital is finalising the sale of the iconic office building Torre Tarragona in Barcelona to UBS. According to sources consulted by El Confidencial, the Swiss investment bank is willing to pay €80 million for the property. Omega Capital acquired 50% of the tower three years ago and last year bought the remaining 50%.

According to the same sources, the transaction forms part of Omega Capital’s strategy to rotate assets that have generated significant yields and that have limited upwards potential left.

The building, designed by the architect Josep María Fargas and opened in 1998, has a surface area covering more than 27,000 m2 spread over 19 floors. It is located just five minutes from the Sants railway station – on Calle Tarragona, number 161 – in an important business area of the Cataluñan capital. It is located in the middle of the city, rather than in Barcelona’s decentralised business area, which has accounted for almost 50% of investment volumes this year given the scarcity of supply in the Business District, according to a recent report by Aguirre Newman. According to data published by the consultancy firm, the initial yield rate in Barcelona has ranged between 4.5%and 5.0% for the best assets. (…).

This represents UBS’s second transaction in Barcelona in a fortnight. Recently, a fund managed by the Swiss group purchased the Cornerstone office complex, in the 22@ district of Barcelona, for €80 million. That asset was owned by the British fund Benson Elliot and is located in Poblenou, one of the city’s new business districts.

Meanwhile, Omega Capital is divesting certain other real estate assets. The most talked about sale was undoubtedly the one that involved the Ritz Hotel in Madrid to the Arabian group Olayan for €130 million. Omega Capital and Orient-Express purchased the Ritz from the company Meridian in April 2003 for €125 million. (…).

Original story: El Confidencial (by Elena Sanz and Marcos Lamelas)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Mandarin Oriental Enters The Bidding War To Buy The Ritz

12 February 2015 – Cinco Días

A new chapter has begun in the bidding war to buy the Ritz in Madrid, one of the most emblematic hotels in the capital. The property has been on the market for almost two years, but may have a new owner in a matter of days. Mandarin Oriental, one of the largest Asian luxury hotel chains, has set its sights on the hotel, which is currently controlled by Orient-Express and Omega Capital, the investment company owned by Alicia Koplowitz.

The owners of the Ritz have been looking for a buyer for the property for almost two years, which, despite its prime location and the power of its brand, has lost much of its appeal in recent years, due to a lack of investment. This has meant that all of the operators that have shown an interest in acquiring the property have identified the need to undertake a major refurbishment, which has played against a quick sale.

Despite that, Orient-Express, now known as Belmond, and Omega have remained steadfast in their price expectations, which led Marriott to placing an offer for €130 million on the table; the transaction fell through at the last minute, when it seemed like every blessing had been given. The problem was that, by adding the purchase cost to the amount required to reform the property, the buyer considered that the final result was infeasible.

Fairmont took over the reins in the bidding process during the second half of last year, by offering €120 million for the property, whose refurbishment it valued at around €60 million. The luxury hotel chain analysed all kinds of options to try to close the transaction successfully, ranging from reselling the rights of the Ritz brand to Marriott – which would have allowed its rival to use the brand throughout the Iberian Peninsular – to addressing the possibility of operating the asset under its second brand, Raffles.

But, according to several market sources close to the negotiations, Fairmont has now also withdrawn from the bidding, leaving the way open for Mandarin. The Asian player may end up closing this complex transaction, mediated by JLL, through an agreement whereby it takes on a management role, but which, in any case, will allow the Asian chain to establish itself in Madrid, a market that it has been analysing with much interest for over a year.

After acquiring numbers 38 and 40 on the exclusive Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona, overlooking Casa Batlló, the Hong Kong firm opened its first property in Spain at the end of 2009. With this investment now well established, the Asian hotel chain has plans to grow in the country, both in Barcelona and, above all, in Madrid.

Luxury hotels arrive in Madrid

The emergence of Four Seasons in the capital, which has reached an agreement with OHL Desarrollos to open the luxury Canalejas complex, has been a catalyst for the Madrilenian hotel market. The large international chains have set their sights on the city and deals are expected to be signed for properties such as the Hotel Villa Magna, the Hotel Miguel Ángel and the old headquarters of Asturiana de Minas; without forgetting the Edificio España, which was acquired by the Chinese Group Dalian Wanda.

These deals will follow others agreed in the last few months, such as the opening of Barceló’s four star hotel in the Torre de Madrid, the conversion of the Hotel Asturias into a boutique hotel and the transformation of the historical Tio Pepe building into a 5 star hotel.

Omega Capital and Belmond acquired the Ritz twelve years ago for €125 million. The strong impact of the economic crisis on the hotel sector in the capital, with declining tourist numbers and low prices, in addition to the cost of the pending renovation of the emblematic hotel, has taken its toll on the brand, for which an impairment loss of €12 million was recorded in 2013, the last full period for which official results are available.

Original story: Cinco Días (by R. Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake