Sabadell Earns €35M From the Sale of its Last 11 Hotels

15 May 2018 – La Vanguardia

Banco Sabadell has definitively completed its divestment from the hotel business by selling off the last of the establishments that did not form part of the package acquired by Blackstone last year. Overall, the bank chaired by Josep Oliu has recorded income of around €35 million from the sale of 11 medium-sized establishments in different parts of Spain. The last one to be sold is the Barceló Estepona, which has been acquired by Hotusa.

In that case, the financial entity has sold the ownership of the property in which the hotel is located. In the majority of cases, the establishments were managed by a specialist company. All of the hotels were left over from the real estate crisis. Sabadell ended up taking ownership of them in recent years in lieu of payments for the debts that their owners had taken out and which they could not repay. In other cases, they were the direct result of mortgage foreclosures for non-payment.

In recent months, the bank led by Jaume Guardiola has been considering several alternatives for its hotel portfolio, including a possible stock market debut. In the end, the entity opted to sell most of the assets owned by the company HI Partners to Blackstone last year. The 11 establishments that were left out of that operation are the ones that have just been sold. In the operation with Blackstone, the bank obtained gains (extraordinary profits) of €55 million from proceeds of €630.7 million. In that deal, it sold establishments such as the ME Sitges Terramar, the Hilton Sa Torre in Mallorca and the Axel Hotel in Madrid to the international fund.

In addition to the Barceló Estepona, the bank has also just divested the following hotels: Barcelona Gate, Margas Golf, Cunit and La Selva. Most of the establishments sold in this final phase were not beachfront properties, nor were they large. Other properties sold recently include the Asta Regia Hotel Jerez de la Frontera acquired by Hotusa, the Aparthotel Augusta in Boí Taüll bought by Kesse Invest, the Balt Hotel Spa in Gijón purchased by Artiem, the Barceló Oviedo acquired by Barceló and the AC Lleida bought by AA Hoteles.

In parallel, the bank is continuing with the process to divest a large proportion of its non-hotel real estate assets that also resulted from the real estate crisis, including those inherited from the now extinct entity CAM. The bank has launched the sale of toxic assets amounting to €10.8 billion through a number of separate operations. It is a significant amount with respect to the €13.5 billion in assets that the bank had registered on its balance sheet at the end of last year.

The CEO Jaume Guardiola also announced last month during the presentation of the entity’s quarterly results that the entity is analysing the future of its real estate subsidiary Solvia. “When there is an opportunity to create value”, it will be sold, explained the director (…).

Original story: La Vanguardia (by Eduardo Magallón)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Axel Hotels Plans To Triple In Size In 5 Years & Enter US Market

5 October 2017 – Expansión

Axel Hotels, the gay-oriented hotel chain, has just opened its first hotel in Madrid together with HI Partners, the subsidiary of Banco Sabadell, and is now preparing to enter new markets in Europe, as well as branch out into the United States of America.

The firm, founded in 2003 by Juan Julià with its first hotel in Barcelona, has almost doubled in size in the last year, from four hotels to seven and from a turnover of €16 million in 2016 to €23.5 million, the forecast full-year figure for 2017.

Currently, the group has a presence in Barcelona, Berlin, the Canary Islands, Ibiza and Madrid and it expects to close four new projects this year.

“We are analysing the East Coast of the USA, which is currently our largest source market, as well as France, the UK, the Netherlands and Italy”, explains the President and founder of Axel, Juan Julià, to Expansión.

Specifically, the group’s expansion plans include adding ten more hotels to its portfolio over five years and reaching a turnover of €70 million by the end of that period.

Last year, the company welcomed the investment firm Aristaeus into its share capital; that firm, which is a subsidiary of Global Investment Holdings, injected €11 million and now controls a 35% stake. “In theory, we are not planning to receive any new investors. The contribution from our shareholder will allow us to open one or two hotels in first-rate cities and with the cash generated from those, we will have the resources necessary to strengthen our growth”.

Julià is also open to strengthening its relationship with HI Partners, with which it has signed a management agreement for the new hotel in Madrid. Located at number 49 Calle Atocha, this building, converted into a hotel, has 88 rooms and Sabadell’s subsidiary invested €9 million on its launch. To supply the gastronomic offer, the hotel restaurant has engaged Grupo Iglesias, owner of Rías de Galicia.

Axel’s business model includes closing rental and management agreements with the owners of hotels and implementing its “hetero-friendly philosophy”. “This is a niche business with great potential and we do not have any real competitors. According to data facilitated by LGTB Capital, gay tourism generates more than €6,300 million in Spain, almost 40% more than business tourism. It is a public that travels four times more and that also spends more than its heterosexual counterparts”, he explains.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake