AEW Invests in Residential Rental Market in Barcelona

10 July 2019

The flood of money that led to a spike in prices for rental housing in Madrid has now reached Barcelona. The German firm AEW has just purchased a building at Via Augusta 59 in Barcelona for an undisclosed amount. The company previously announced that it was looking to begin operations in Spain’s residential housing market.

The property is mixed-use, residential and commercial, and is located in the district of Sarrià-Sant Gervasi, just 500 meters from Avinguda Diagonal, Barcelona’s main thoroughfare. The building is located next to the Gràcia metro stop, in a sought-after area.

The Edificio Mercurio, as it is known, has about 11,500 square meters of surface area. Eurostone, which had acquired the asset two years before, had begun major renovations which will result in a total of 91 flats on nine floors, along with three commercial premises.

Original Story: El Confidencial – E. Sanz

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

WeWork Leases 2 New Office Spaces in Barcelona

4 October 2018 – Eje Prime

The US group, WeWork, is continuing its conquest of Spain and is getting ready to make its mark in the centre of Barcelona. The company, which specialises in flexible office spaces, will add a new complex to its portfolio in the Catalan capital after signing the lease on a building. The Corner, located at number 444 Avenida Diagonal, owned by Emesa. In parallel, the group is finalising the lease of the former headquarters of Banco Popular on Paseo de Gracia, in a property controlled Hines.

The building on La Diagonal is owned by Emesa, the investor group owned by Emilio Cuatrecasas, and used to house the headquarters of the law firm Cuatrecasas. The Corner, located at the intersection of La Diagonal and Paseo de Gracia has a surface area of 3,400 m2 distributed over seven floors (plus a basement), with an average surface area of 400 m2 each.

Emesa has owned the property on La Diagonal since 2017, when it paid €35 million to acquire it. The asset had been on the market since the beginning of the year after Cuatrecasas abandoned its traditional location to move to the 22@ district. Emesa had considered the possibility of leasing the building to several tenants, but in the end, it will be occupied in its entirety by WeWork.

In the meantime, the coworking giant is finalising another major operation. The company is close to signing the lease on the former headquarters of Banco Popular on Paseo de Gracia, a building that has been owned by Hines since March 2017, which paid €90 million for it.

Spaces, one of WeWork’s main rivals, expressed interest in that building in July. Nevertheless, sources at the company indicate that its operation never materialised. The building, located at number 17 Paseo de Gracia, has a surface area for offices and a retail premise, and has just been renovated by its owner.

With these moves, the US giant is taking positions in the centre of Barcelona; until now it had focused its presence on the 22@ district. In May, WeWork leased 4,500 m2 of space in the WIP building, owned by the Swiss fund Stoneweg.

That building is located next to the first complex that the group opened in Spain, in the Luxa building on Calle Tánger of the technological district. In Madrid, WeWork operates a space at number 43 Paseo de la Castellana, another at 77 on the same street, and a third at number 27 Calle Eloy Gonzalo.

Companies specialising in the management of these types of work spaces are revolutionising the office market all over the world. WeWork and Spaces are just two of the largest players on the global stage and both arrived in Spain in 2017.

Original story: Eje Prime (by Pilar Riaño & Jabier Izquierdo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Massimo Dutti Vacates its Store on Rambla Catalunya 60 (Barcelona)

12 July 2018 – Eje Prime

A new commercial space is available for rent in the centre of Barcelona. Massimo Dutti, one of the chains in the Inditex group, closed the doors to its establishment at number 60 Rambla Catalunya, on the corner with c/Aragón on Tuesday. The Coma-Cros family, which owns the building that is home to the store, has put the property on the market.

According to sources at the chain, the closure of the Massimo Dutti store forms part of the Galician group’s current process to reorganise its network of shops; it is focusing on getting rid of small stores in favour of larger establishments. Massimo Dutti already has another store on the corner of Gran Vía and Rambla Catalunya and another one on Paseo de Gracia, the latter in the former premises of Vinçon.

The building at number 60 Rambla Catalunya is owned by the Coma-Cros family and proceeds from a saga relating to the textile sector, whose company, based in Salt (Girona) shut down in 1999 after 149 years of operation.

According to explanations from sources in the real estate sector speaking to Eje Prime, the premises occupied by Massimo Dutto until now has been put on the market. The asset has a surface area of around 1,065 m2 and its neighbours include Tezenis and Rituals.

The Coma-Cros family channels its investment activity in the real estate sector through the company Fisa 74, which it manages through Fisa Rentals. The company owns residential assets for rent in Barcelona, on Calles Aribau, Bailén, Les Corts, Rambla Catalunya and Gran Vía.

Rambla Catalunya has become one of the most sought-after streets in Barcelona for retail operators. According to data from the consultancy firm CBRE, in 2017, the street accounted for 30% of the prime high street rental operations in Barcelona. Avenida Diagonal, meanwhile, accounted for 25%, followed by Paseo de Gracia with 22%, Portaferrissa with 13%, Pelayo with 7%, and Portal de l’Àngel with 3%.

Since 2014, around fifty operations have been closed on Rambla Catalunya, which has led to the modernisation of the offer on the street. In 2017, operators such as Etam, CKS, Lily and Pangea arrived, amongst others.

According to sources in the sector, the speed at which a new tenant for the asset is found will depend on the price set by the owners, given that price is proving to be the main stumbling block in the negotiations currently underway in Barcelona. According to CBRE, rents for stores measuring between 800 m2 and 1,500 m2 on Rambla Catalunya amount to around €30/m2/month.

Original story: Eje Prime (by P. Riaño)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Emesa Segregates its Activity & Creates a Dedicated Real Estate Company

14 May 2018 – Eje Prime

Emesa is showing that it’s serious about its real estate business. The investor group owned by Emilio Cuatrecasas is immersed in a company reorganisation, which will lead him to segregate his business into two: one division will be destined to corporate investment and the other to real estate investment. The group has recently created the first company to this end, Emesa Real Estate, which will have Emesa Corporación Empresarial as its sole shareholder and Ferrán Forrellad as the administrator.

According to the Official Bulletin of the Mercantile Registry, the constitution of Emesa Real Estate is the first step being taken by the group to initiate its corporate restructuring. Although the company already operated its real estate business through the holding company Emesa Corporación Empresarial, from now on, it will channel all of its operations in the real estate sector through one specific company.

Meanwhile, the other arm of Emesa’s business, Emesa Capital, will be managed by Vanessa Llopar, who has served as the CEO of that division since March. Through that subsidiary, Emesa is investing in companies in various sectors, from healthcare companies, such as Devicare, to companies specialising in urban storage, such as Boxinfiniti.

Thus, Emesa’s new plans in the Spanish real estate sector will be conducted directly by this new division. The group is going to invest more than €100 million in Barcelona and its surrounding area, as revealed by Eje Prime, in order to launch new residential projects, office buildings and hotels.

Even so, the company’s involvement in the real estate sector dates back years. Emesa first leapt into the property development world with a building in the heart of Barcelona’s 22@ district, which is now the headquarters of the law firm Cuatrecasas in the Catalan capital.

The group, which has increased its workforce by threefold over the last three years, from seven employees to twenty-one, is now in the preliminary phase of constructing a new office building in the same area, at number 184 Calle Pallars. Designed by the architecture studio BAAS, Emesa is going to invest €25 million in that new asset, which will have an above ground surface area of 9,200 m2 and 5,000 m2 of space below ground level.

Moreover, in recent months, Emesa has starred in several high-profile operations in the Barcelona real estate market, such as the purchase of the Diagonal 444 building, the former headquarters of Cuatrecasas; and of the Diagonal 632 building, which is the headquarters of the Quirónsalud’s Ophthalmological Institute in Barcelona.

And from one side of Avenida Diagonal to the other. As Eje Prime revealed, Emesa acquired 37,000 m2 in Finestrellas, an up and coming area, which will include offices, residential properties and a commercial area. The project in which Emesa is participating involves an office development spanning 90,000 m2, in which it has invested €80 million and which is expected to be fully operational by 2023 (the construction work will begin in 2020).

Emesa also plans to make headway in the residential sector over the next few years. The company is going to build a development containing 40 homes for rent in Badalona after investing €12 million in this project.

Currently, the portfolio of Emesa Corporación spans more than 180,000 m2 and is worth more than €750 million. Emesa Corporación Empresarial generated revenues of €8.07 million last year.

Original story: Eje Prime (by C. Pareja)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Barcelona’s Town Hall Approves Expansion Of Pedralbes Shopping Centre

10 November 2017 – Expansión

The Town Hall of Barcelona has granted the licence corresponding to the expansion and renovation of the El Dau building, located on Avenida Diagonal in the Catalan capital, which is home to the Pedralbes Centre shopping arcade. The property is owned by the real estate firm Inmobiliaria Colonial.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Habitat Considers Moving Its HQ To Madrid Due To Cataluña Crisis

7 November 2017 – El Confidencial

The historical property developer Habitat Inmobiliaria is on its way to becoming the next iconic Catalan company to abandon its region of origin in order to avoid the risks associated with the current crisis being caused by the independence challenge. The company’s shareholders, led by Capstone Equities Management, have been discussing the possible transfer of its corporate headquarters from number 458 Avenida Diagonal in Barcelona to Madrid for several weeks now; they want to reduce any risks to the sales plans being developed by its commercial network (in other parts of the country).

The company, founded in 1953, was owned by the Figueras family until November 2015, when it was taken over by Capstone and a group of funds, including Värde, in an operation that included a multi-million debt discount and in which Goldman Sachs and Bank of America also participated. The change in ownership led, in turn, to an about-turn in its management. Rafael del Valle took over the role of President and a significant part of the operations were moved to Madrid, although the registered address of Promociones Habitat, as the company is known formally, was maintained in Barcelona.

Now, the owners have initiated a sales process and the private equity firms Apollo, Oaktree and Bain are all competing in the final round, according to El Confidencial. In this context, the uncertainty generated in Catalaña could give the final push to move, however, the debate is on-going internally, which sources from the real estate company freely admit.

The problem for Habitat is not so much its exposure to the Catalan market itself, but more a question of its image in the commercial network across the rest of Spain. Of the 11 real estate developments that it currently has up for sale, only one is located in Cataluña, specifically, in Cornellà de Llobregat, called Parc de Can Mercader. The rest are located in Madrid (four developments), the Community of Valencia (four), Andalucía (three), Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Portugal (one each). In other words, the problem facing the company is the opposition that its products may receive given the fact that it is a Catalan company, a phenomenon that is being seen in other sectors.

If this change of registered address comes about, Habitat will be the second large real estate company to abandon Cataluña for political reasons after the Board of Directors of Inmobiliaria Colonial also decided, on 9 October, to move from Avenida Diagonal in Barcelona to Paseo de la Castellana in Madrid.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Víctor Romero)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Renta Corporación’s Profits Rose By 255% In H1 To €7M

21 July 2017 – Diario Vasco

The real estate company Renta Corporación has seen its profits soar by 255% during the first half of this year, to €7.1 million, up by €5 million compared to the same period last year.

During the first six months of 2017, the company closed operations in Barcelona and Madrid amounting to €142 million and launched a Socimi – listed real estate investment company – together with the Dutch pension fund APG containing residential rental assets.

In declarations to Efe, the CEO at Renta Corporación, David Vila, assessed these results “very positively”, since they confirm the strong performance of the real estate company over the last few years and allow us to forecast that the company will achieve its goal of earning €13 million in 2017 as a whole.

“Renta Corporación closed 2016 with a solid business portfolio, which gave us good visibility for this year”, explained Vila.

Specifically, the business portfolio amounted to €210.2 million at the end of June, a very similar figure to that registered in December 2016.

According to Vila, this quantity is “optimal” for its business model, given that they tend to move between €200 million and €250 million to properly carry out their activity.

During the first half of the year, the operating margin amounted to €9.5 million, double the figure recorded in the same period last year (€4.8 million).

Similarly, the real estate company has closed operations in Barcelona and Madrid amounting to €142 million, cities that Vila considers to be “the most import and most liquid” for the real estate sector and which “are leading” the recovery process.

In Barcelona, Renta Corporación closed the sale of Edificio Mercurio for €30 million as well as that of an office building on Avenida Diagonal for €7 million.

In Madrid, the company sold an office building on Calle General Moscardó for €5.6 million as well as that of a residential property on Calle Jorge Juan for €8.4 million.

The director also highlighted the good results obtained by the Socimi that Renta Corporación has created together with APG, which has committed share capital of €130 million.

He said that the company has recorded “strong activity”, given that it has made its first purchases amounting to €25 million in the Madrilenian municipalities of Navalcarnero and Rivas-Vaciamadrid and will undertake new acquisitions over the next few weeks.

The CEO forecasts that the Socimi will make “significant” contributions as its activity increases, even though it currently represents a small proportion in comparison to the real estate company’s overall result.

Renta Corporación closed the first half of the year with a share price of €2.84, which represents a 55% increase compared to the figure recorded at the end of last year (€1.84).

Original story: Diario Vasco

Translation: Carmel Drake

Cuatrecasas Buys Another Asset On La Diagonal For €7M

13 July 2017 – Eje Prime

Emilio Cuatrecasas is on a roll on Barcelona’s Avenida Diagonal. The lawyer’s family office, Emesa, has redoubled its commitment to the avenue with the acquisition of the headquarters of the Ophthalmology Institute for €7 million. This purchase follows its recent acquisition of 31,000 m2 of land in Project Finestrelles, located in Esplugues de Llobregat (Barcelona), where it plans to build six office blocks.

The building in question this time, which used to house the headquarters of Grand Tibidabo, has a surface area of 2,000 m2 and is located at number 632 on La Diagonal, at the intersection with c/Sarrià. The property has a long-term rental contract with the clinic, which currently belongs to the Quironsalud group.  The property used to be owned by the former owner of the Ophthalmology Institute in Barcelona, Andreu Coret, through the firm Inmo 632, according to Expansión.

In recent months, the investment arm of Emilio Cuatrecasas has made several acquisitions, including of number 444 on La Diagonal, for which it paid €35 million. That property, known as the Majorica building, has three façades overlooking La Diagonal, Paseo de Gràcia and Calle Còrsega, and until December last year, it housed the offices of the law firm Cuatrecasas.

Last summer, Emesa also completed the acquisition of a unique asset. The investor group purchased the Ullastrer Palace, in the Baix Empordà area, with the aim of promoting a premium hotel chain. The estate, known as Can Romaguera, is currently being restored and offers up to 2,500 m2 of space for hotel use, with an investment of €7 million.

The asset portfolio of Emesa, which is led by Ferran Forrellad, is completed by a building at number 191 on Avenida Diagonal, which houses the new headquarters of Cuatrecasas; number 579 on Avenida Diagonal, where Emesa’s headquarters of located; two office buildings in Mas Balu and a logistics park in El Pla de Santa María, in Tarragona.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Cuatrecasas’ Family Office Buys Plot Of Land To Build 6 Offices

5 July 2017 – Eje Prime

The Cuatrecasas family has strengthened its real estate portfolio in Barcelona. Emesa, the investment arm of Emilio Cuatrecasas, has bought 31,000 m2 of land in Project Finestrelles, located in Esplugues de Llobregat (Barcelona), where it plans to build six office blocks, according to sources close to the operation. These plots were owned until now by Vaines, which was a subsidiary of Metrovacesa until five years ago.

Project Finestrelles has been assigned three uses, including the residential part, measuring 90,000 m2 for the construction of housing; the commercial area, where Inbisa has already started work on a complex measuring more than 99,000 m2; and offices. The latter space is divided into two projects: the first is being handled by Sacresa, owned by the Sanahuja family, which is building two office blocks, measuring 22,000 m2 each.

The second project was owned by Vaines until now. Emilio Cuatrecasas plans to construct a business park containing six offices blocks. This project received the green light in 2014, after twelve years of administrative procedures, and so now it is beginning to take shape. Emesa declined to comment on the operation, whose price has not been revealed.

In total, Finestrelles has a surface area of 395,000 m2, between Avenida Dels Països Catalans, the Ronda de Dalt, the A-2 motorway and Calle Laureà Miró. The plans for the site, which have driven by Sacresa, have received the blessing of the Town Hall from the beginning, although it is only now that the so-called “new Diagonal de Barcelona” is starting to take shape.

In this way, Emesa is taking another step towards its goal to increases its portfolio of assets. Excluding the Finestrelles operation, the group owns real estate assets covering around 125,000 m2, which represent more than half of the group’s assets, worth more than €480 million.

In recent months, the investment arm of Emilio Cuatrecasa has carried out several acquisitions. Its purchases have included number 444 on Avenida Diagonal, for which it paid €35 million. The property, known as the Majorica building, has three façades overlooking Diagonal, Paseo de Gràcia and Calle Còrsega, and until last December it housed some of the law firm Cuatrecasas’ offices.

Last summer, Emesa also completed the acquisition of a unique asset. The investment group purchased the Ullastrer palace in the Baix Empordà area, with the aim of promoting a premium hotel chain. The estate, known as Can Romaguera, is being restored and has up to 2,500 m2 of space for hotel use, with an investment of €7 million.

The asset portfolio of Emesa, led by Ferran Forrellad, is completed by: a building at number 191 on Avenida Diagonal, which houses the new headquarters of Cuatrecasas; a property at number 579 on Avenida Diagonal, which is home to the headquarters of Emesa; two office buildings in Mas Blau; and a logistics park in El Pla de Santa María, in Tarragona.

Original story: Eje Prime (by Custodio Pareja)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Gesvalt: Rental Prices Rise In Spain’s Prime Retail Spaces

31 March 2017 – Eje Prime

Rental prices in the retail market continued to rise in 2016. Rental prices on the prime high streets of the main urban areas in the country experienced a change in trend after an increase in their prices. High streets such as Portal de l’Àngel in Barcelona and Gran Vía in Madrid now have monthly rental costs of €270/m2 and €230/m2, respectively, according to the Market Study of Commercial premises, prepared by the valuation specialist Gesvalt.

Although the retail sector still represents a very attractive market, its volume decreased with respect to 2015, primarily due to the boom in the Socimis, which last year focused their attention on actively managing their portfolios, rather that making new investments like the year before.

In the Catalan capital, streets such as Paseo de Gracia, Rambla Cataluña and Avenida Diagonal saw prices stabilise at their 2015 levels. In Madrid, rental prices rose slightly with respect to 2015, with Calle Preciados once again the high street that recorded the most expensive prices in the capital, with rents of €255/m2/month. In Madrid, the significant increase in rents on Gran Vía saw prices rise from €205/m2/month to €230/m2/month last year.

In Valencia, rents in the prime areas rose by between 5% and 10%, and Calle Colón was the city’s most expensive street, with rents of up to €160/m2/month on its most exclusive stretches. In the city of Palma, prices remained stable with respect to the previous year on the city’s three prime streets.

“Meanwhile, it is worth noting the low and almost zero availability of large and flagship stores in all of the prime areas, due to the significant demand for that kind of property from the large brands”, said the study.

Sandra Daza, Director General at Gesvalt, said that, based on the results obtained, it is clear that “commercial premises are still the most profitable assets in Spain”. And she added that “buying a commercial property in a prime area in Spain and then leasing it out would currently generate a gross return of between 4.5% and 6%.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake