Habitat’s Land Portfolio Now Spans 1 million m2 with Capacity to Build 10,000 Homes

9 March 2019 – Expansión

The property developer Habitat now owns more than 1 million m2 of land after investing €121 million last year to expand its portfolio. As such, the firm led by José Carlos Saz (pictured below) has the capacity to build around 10,000 homes. Specifically, the firm backed by Bain Capital acquired 27 plots last year on which to build around 2,500 homes. 5% of those plots were non-buildable (in the process of being approved for construction).

The company expects to reach cruising speed with the delivery of 2,000 homes per year from 2021 onwards. Last year, it handed over 270 homes across 4 developments in Barcelona, Málaga and Madrid, to generate turnover of €89 million, EBITDA of €1.83 million and a net profit of €250,000. The company plans to invest €500 million in land purchases until 2021, financed by Bain.

Moreover, like its competitors Neinor, Aedas and Metrovacesa, Habitat is also considering entering the rental home sector and may even begin to build developments for Socimis.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Lone Star & Cerberus Increase their Commitment to Spanish Property

21 February 2019 – Expansión

The need for the banks to reduce their exposure to property and the funds’ appetite for the Spanish real estate sector have converged in recent years leading to the transfer of portfolios of debt and foreclosed assets worth millions of euros. Blackstone, Cerberus, Lone Star, the Canadian pension fund (CPPIB), Bain, Axactor and Lindorff are the funds that have been behind most of the major transactions involving portfolios of bank debt secured by real estate collateral during that period.

Emilio Portes, Director of Quantitative & Risk Management at JLL for Southern Europe, said that, following a frantic 2017 when more than €55 billion was transacted, last year saw portfolios sold with a gross value of more than €45 billion (…).

In 2018, the indisputable star was Lone Star, which took control of a portfolio worth around €12.8 billion from CaixaBank. Specifically, CaixaBank sold that portfolio along with Servihabitat to a company called Coral Homes in which Lone Star owns an 80% stake. Cerberus was also active last year with the purchase of several portfolios from Sabadell, Santander and CaixaBank with a total gross value of €12.5 billion. Behind it, came CPPIB, Axactor, D.E. Shaw and Lindorff, according to data provided by JLL.

“The sum of the transactions recorded over the last two years exceeds €100 billion, which places Spain as one of the countries with the largest transaction volume in Europe and the most liquid in terms of real transactions”, says Portes. In those portfolios, there are various types of assets, mainly residential, but also land, offices, premises and hotels.

The year ahead

During 2019, the banks will continue to divest assets, although with smaller portfolio sales. “In 2019, we expect a transaction volume of €20 billion, in addition to whatever Sareb ends up doing”, revealed Portes. He explains that most of the large Spanish banks have now reduced their NPA (non-performing asset) ratios to below 5%.

Following the activity undertaken by the large banks, all eyes are now focused on the medium and small-sized entities, particularly those with the greatest property exposure and therefore most pressure, as well as on Sareb, which has assets worth more than €35 billion still left to sell (…).

The heirs of the banks’ property, having purchased at significant discounts, have an average investment horizon of five years before they undo their positions (…)

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Following Blackstone, Cerberus, Lone Star and Bain Plan to Launch Socimis

7 February 2019

Major investment funds have taken over billions of euros of real estate from the banking sector in recent years and are now planning their exit strategies. Some funds, such as Cerberus, Bain Capital and Lone Star intend to follow in Blackstone’s footsteps, considering the creation of socimis with a portion of their assets, various sources in the sector told the Economista.

The sources stated that some funds’ plans are further advanced than others, already at the point where they are analysing the size of the portfolios which they may transfer to the market through this type of listed vehicle. They held out the possibility that one or more of the new socimis may premiere before the end of the year.

Under this formula, the funds would increase their investments’ liquidity, taking over from other more core investors, with a longer-term profile and more moderate levels of profitability.

The three funds’ future socimis would focus on the residential rental housing market with a model based on largely dispersed units since the apartments they acquired from the banks generally fit such a profile.

Major operations

Cerberus earned its place on the podium as one of the most significant real estate investors in Spain, just behind Blackstone. The fund, based in New York, was one of the first to arrive in Spain during the real estate crisis, between 2010 and 2012, and since then it has been taking positions in almost every sector of the property market through Haya Real Estate , the developer Inmoglaciar, the real estate agency Housell and Gescobro.

In November 2017, it bought 80% of BBVA’s real estate business, which had a gross value of some 13 billion euros. The transaction was the second largest portfolio operation ever concluded in the history of Spain, behind Blackstone’s acquisition of Banco Popular’s toxic assets from Banco Santander. Cerberus has also been increasing its portfolio of NPLs and REOs with other smaller operations such as CaixaBank’s Agora project, Sabadell’s Challenger and Coliseum portfolios and BBVA’s Jaipur Project, among others.

On the other hand, Cerberus is in the race to acquire Solvia Desarrollos Inmobiliarios, a developer that owns a portfolio of land valued at about €1 billion.

Lone Star is also analysing the possibility of launching a socimi with a portion of the properties it acquired during its flagship operation in Spain when it bought CaixaBank’s real estate business, which had a gross value of 12.8 billion euros. The fund also acquired the bank’s servicer, Servihabitat.

For its part, Bain Capital, which owns the developer Habitat, has also been one of the most active investors in debt portfolios. One of its more recent operations, known as the Shell Project, involved the acquisition of some €700 million in NPLs to developers from Kutxabank.

Original Story: Eleconomista.es – Alba Brualla

Photo: Getty

Translation: Richard Turner

Habitat Completes the Purchase of 4 Plots of Land for €14M

21 December 2018 – Eje Prime

Habitat is also going Christmas shopping. The property developer, in which Bain Capital holds a stake, is going to complete the acquisition of four plots of land next week, with a combined investment of €14 million, according to a statement from José Carlos Saz (pictured below), the CEO of the company, speaking to Eje Prime.

With these transactions, the company is planning to end the year with €127 million of investment in the acquisition of buildable land for the construction of 2,800 homes. “We have exceeded the forecasts that we announced in October”, said the Executive, who also added that the company has focused its efforts beyond “the areas where everyone else is building, such as the Costa del Sol, Madrid and Levante”, especially during the final stage of the year.

Proof of that includes two of its latest land purchases: one in Sevilla, announced yesterday and involving the acquisition of two plots, and the other in Oviedo, which has resulted in the company’s debut in Asturias. “We have no predilection for any city or region in particular, rather we expand to wherever there is demand and we can generate returns on our investment”, said the director.

Rigour and realism are the two factors that are governing this new phase for the property developer, which starred in Spain’s second largest bankruptcy proceeding in 2008. “The arrival of Bain Capital has represented a critical boost for the re-launch of the company”, confessed Saz. In fact, the company aims to invest €500 million in the purchase of land across the country between now and 2021.

Despite the property developer’s ambitious plans, its CEO clarified that its objectives do not include “becoming one of the largest firms” or being the company that sells the most homes. In this sense, the executive confirmed that “under no circumstances”, does his firm want to return to having a workforce of 900 workers, like it did with the first Habitat. For Saz, the ideal team would comprise around 130 people, 77 of which have already been recruited during 2018.

Similarly, expansion into Portugal does not form one of the company’s objectives either. In fact, Habitat has opted for a policy of divesting the assets located overseas that it inherited from its first phase.

Challenges (…)

For  José Carlos Saz, the major challenges facing the property developer sector at the moment are the lack of buildable land, the increase in construction costs and the need to finish professionalising and standardising the industry (…).

By the end of 2018, Habitat’s land portfolio will comprise a surface area of 1.1 million m2, with capacity for the construction of 10,000 homes. Currently, the company has 33 developments under construction, corresponding to 3,000 homes in total. Of those, 800 units are in the construction phase and the rest are in the planning phase. This year, the company has started to market 1,700 homes and has handed over 270 residential assets distributed across three developments.

Original story: Eje Prime (by Berta Seijo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Kutxabank Sells a €700M Property Developer Loan Portfolio to Bain

21 December 2018 – Cinco Días

Kutxabank has sold a “problem property developer loan” portfolio with a gross valuation of €700 million to a subsidiary of Bain Capital Credit. The portfolio includes doubtful assets and non-performing loans to property developers, according to a statement issued by the entity chaired by Gregorio Villalabeitia (pictured below).

The divestment includes both loans with mortgage guarantees, secured by land for the most part (48% of the total), as well as finished homes (another 29%). They are located in Andalucía and Euskadi.

The transaction has materialised through a competitive bidding process, which has been coordinated by the investment bank Alantra.

Sources at the vendor bank indicate that there is “a great investor appetite” in the market for this type of asset at the moment, a situation that has encouraged the entity to take the decision to divest these assets, the first operation of this kind that it has undertaken in its history.

The divestment will improve Kutxabank’s results this year and will reduce its exposure in the courts, due to the costs associated with the litigation relating to these assets. The bank has already calculated that, following this operation, its default ratio will improve by 50 basis points to fall below 4%.

The sale of the real estate portfolio will also have a positive impact on the bank’s CTE 1 capital ratio, which will increase by 10 basis points. According to the bank, it will thereby consolidate its position of leadership as the most solvent entity in the country.

Bain Capital Credit, with 200 employees, invests in the entire spectrum of loans, including leveraged loans, high-yield bonds and structured products, amongst others. Bain Capital has been advised in this operation by Copernicus, Aura, JLL and Allen & Overy.

Original story: Cinco Días

Translation: Carmel Drake

Project Bidasoa: Sareb Sells a Land-Backed Debt Portfolio to Bain

16 November 2018 – El Economista

On Friday, the Company for the Management of Assets proceeding from the Restructuring of the Banking System (Sareb) announced the sale to the fund Bain Capital Credit of a portfolio of loans with a nominal value of €159 million.

The operation, known as Bidasoa, includes loans backed for the most part by land located in various regions of Spain.

The plots that secure the debt are mainly located in Barcelona, in the municipalities of Sant Quirze del Vallés and Viladecans; Cádiz, in La Línea de la Concepción; Málaga (in Manilva) and Madrid.

For the operation, the bad bank has received financial advice from Alantra and legal advice from Bird & Bird.

Original story: El Economista 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Bain Appoints Juan María Nin as New President of Habitat

26 June 2018 – Eje Prime

Habitat is continuing to compose its governing body. The real estate company, which has been owned by Bain Capital since last year, has hired Juan María Nin (pictured below) as the new President of the company. The director is already a member of the Boards of Directors of Azora, Société Générale and Azvi.

Nin is joining the Catalan property developer at a time when the management team is being rebuilt by the US fund, which recently hired José Carlos Saz, formerly of Neinor Homes, as its new CEO.

The executive, who holds a degree in Law and Economics from the University of Deusto and a Masters in Law and Political Science from the London School of Economics, has enjoyed an outstanding career in the Spanish business world. Nin has held positions of responsibility at several banks including Santander, Sabadell and CaixaBank (…).

Habitat, which was acquired by Bain in December last year for €220 million, currently has a portfolio of projects underway in Spain, with more than 1,000 new homes being marketed in Madrid, Barcelona, Málaga, Sevilla, Córdoba, Valencia and Las Palmas de Gran Canarias. Of those, the real estate company has 700 homes under construction and expects to hand over more than 550 homes in the next twelve months.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Bain and Cerberus Vying to Take Over Hercesa

27 April 2018

The company, which has more than forty years of experience in the sector, has already attracted the interest of the two investment funds, which would take over a business structure that has a presence in all market sectors.

A long time player in the Spanish real estate market has put itself up for sale. The Hercesa Inmobiliaria group, which has more than forty years of experience in the sector and which has a presence in all market sectors, has received offers for the company starting at 150 million euros. Up to five investment funds have already expressed an interest in the compan. Bain and Cerberus are considered the two principal contenders, industry sources told EjePrime.

The group, of which the Cercadillo family is the majority shareholder, set a deadline for the submission of applications that ended today. That will be followed by analyses of the company, due diligence and negotiations. The company commissioned KPMG for its valuation prospectus. The group declined to comment on the sale.

Hercesa’s real estate activity is primarily focused on the residential sector, although it also has industrial, tertiary and management assets in its portfolio. Also, the company has had a presence outside of Spain since 2004, having carried out projects in Portugal, Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Morocco, Ecuador, Mexico and Panama.

In the residential market, the holding also owns the manager Hi! Real Estate. Created in 2014, it is the base of the group, which in its forty years of experience has delivered more than 21,000 homes and, at present, is selling 2,600 properties in developments distributed between the Community of Madrid, Malaga, Valladolid and Guadalajara, where its headquarters are located.

However, one of the company’s assets that may of the greatest interest for the funds who want to develop in Spain is their portfolio of land mortgaged with banks. Hercesa has land holdings throughout the Spanish Levant, Andalusia, Madrid and Guadalajara.

In addition to the manager, the group has a developer, Hi! Projects, as well as with the construction company Hi! Works and Services. The last known audit of the group, from 2016, shows revenues of 63.6 million euros and assets of €132 million. Also, the prospectus prepared by KPMG highlights a financial debt of fifty million euros, much of it related to the land mortgaged with banks, with which it has recently reached agreements for the creation of developments on the lands, due to the rebound of construction in the residential sector.

As EjePrime has learned, the company’s intention with this valuation prospectus is to sell the company by taking advantage of the upward cycle that the sector is experiencing and from which the investment funds want to take advantage. It would be, therefore, a new corporate operation in which, just as happened with Via Célere, which received an injection of funds from Värde, the future buyer could keep the current management team.

There have been other such agreements, such as the purchase of Aelca, also by Värde and Cerberus’ acquisition of Inmoglaciar. Also, Bain recently paid 220 million euros for Habitat and Baupost entered the prime residential sector with its purchase of Levitt, through Q21.

Original Story: EjePrime – J. Izquierdo

Translation: Richard Turner

 

Habitat Joins the Entrenúcleos Fever & Buys 3 Plots Spanning 30,000 m2

2 April 2018 – El Confidencial

Entrenúcleos, the immense expanse of land stretching out more than 7 million m2 across Dos Hermanas (Sevilla) and urbanised to a large extent, is continuing to attract new investors interested in starting to build homes as soon as possible. The latest player to join firms such as Inmobiliaria del Sur (Insur) in partnership with BBVA, Aelca and the Sevillan firm Bekinsa, is Habitat, the property developer that has been controlled by the US fund Bain Capital since the end of last year.

The group has acquired almost 30,000 m2 of land spread over three plots, through an auction of assets owned by the local property developer Ábaco. The total price, according to market sources, is a real bargain: €4.6 million. “Taking into account current sales prices in the area, which stand at around €1,700/m2 for a family home, and range between €1,400/m2 and €1,500/m2 in the case of flats, the final yield could reach 45%”, explain the same sources. Habitat has been awarded three plots on which to build 189 flats (on two of them) and 78 family homes on the third one.

Two other companies have also obtained land in the auction of Ábaco’s assets, which filed for bankruptcy in 2016. Firstly, the real estate company Aelca, controlled by the fund Värde Partners. That firm already acquired a decent amount of land in Entrenúcleos at the beginning of the year by purchasing land with a buildable surface area of almost 230,000 m2 on which to build 2,100 homes, for around €250 million. Now, Aelca has acquired another 14,000 m2 plot (with a buildability of 12,500 m2), on which it plans to build 78 terraced houses, for €3.2 million.

Aelca plans to start marketing the first two developments proceeding from its purchase at the beginning of the year in May. Finally, the third property developer to acquire land is the aforementioned Sevillan firm Bekinsa, controlled by the Beca family. It has acquired 16,600 m2, on which to build up to 30 family homes, for €1.2 million. The Sevillan firm is already marketing homes in two other apartment blocks in Entrenúcleos (…).

Other plots owned by Ábaco in the area, but included in a pro-indiviso in which the firm held a 30% stake and in which CaixaBank and the Town Hall of Dos Hermanas were also shareholders, did not get sold in the auction held before Easter. The same thing happened with other plots located close to Sevilla airport and whose urban planning procedures are in a much more preliminary stage than those of the plots in Entrenúcleos (…).

Original story: El Confidencial (by Carlos Pizá de Silva)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Irea: “Mistakes Are Still Being Made But We Are A Long Way From A Bubble”

22 February 2018 – El Economista

The real estate sector is booming and the euphoria that is being experienced, especially in the residential segment, is leading to a genuine war in the purchase of land. That is according to Mikel Echavarren (pictured below), CEO of Irea, who says that the first mistakes are starting to be made.

The Director, who has participated in significant operations in the sector, such as Bain’s purchase of Habitat, and who has acted as a financial advisor to Blackstone in its acquisition of Banco Popular, believes that the next alliances will be harder to forge, but, even so, expects to see greater consolidation in the sector.

Q: How is the fabric of the real estate business evolving?

A: The residential development sector is giving rise to eye-catching activities in the market, such as stock market debuts and corporate acquisitions. On the one hand, we have the upper part of the sector, with large companies and on the other hand, we have the vast majority of real estate companies, which are lifting up their heads, maximising everything they can with the few resources they have. They have more money now than they did in 2013 and they have resolved almost all of their debt problems (…). They are all taking their first steps with something that did not exist before the crisis: money from funds for specific projects. And that is causing companies to revive and, as always happens, the markets that are recovering first are the Costa del Sol, Madrid, Barcelona, Málaga, Sevilla and Bilbao. But there are still some markets that have not recovered at all.

Q: Do you need to be big to survive in this sector?

A: Being big in the residential sector means that you can access the land purchases that the majority of companies don’t have the capacity to afford. It does not mean you have to be listed, but being large allows you to access faster and cheaper financing, and with that, you can rotate your portfolio much more. Meanwhile, smaller property developers have to hand over developments that they started three years ago to be able to afford to invest in land now (…).

Q: So, whoever can afford to buy land is guaranteed success?

Yes. Whoever has funds today to buy land in good locations is going to emerge victorious. That is one of the reasons why being large makes sense. Land is a scarce asset and since no new plots are coming onto the market due to the active or passive inoperativeness of the Administration, and because there is no capacity to finance the development of new land, prices are going to soar. Developable land prices have decreased by a lot (since their pre-crisis peaks), by between 60% and 80%, and I am certain that they will rise by between 200% and 300% (…).

Q: This situation means that the greatest fights are now over the purchase of land…

A: Yes, punches are already being thrown in this fight and we are entering a time in which mistakes are being made because people are buying land that is too expensive. But given that they are making those mistakes with their own funds, we are not facing a bubble scenario (…).

Q: With Neinor Homes, Aedas and Metrovacesa now listed, do you think we are going to see a boom in the number of property developers going public?

A: Going public is a consequence of the fact that there are funds behind the real estate companies that are looking to obtain returns. Nowadays, there are so many players wanting to invest in property developers in Spain, because, in theory, their performance is going to be very highly correlated with the recovery of the Spanish economy, that with few listed firms and so much capital, the value of them is increasing and it does not make sense for a property developer’s share price to exceed the value of its assets. I think that in two years time, we will see half a dozen companies listed on the stock market, but no more. There are not going to be that many because it is hard for a property developer to be strong, and to have good and geographically diversified plots. There have been some clear examples that are not going to be replicated, such as in the case of Vía Célere, which is a really good company that was sold because it did not have anyone to take over, but it is hard for many more operations like that to arise. Funds that already participate in a property developer do so because they are sure that they are going to go public. But we can expect to see acquisitions, purchases that seem like mergers (…).

Q: One of the major social problems in this country is the difficulty that young people face when affording to buy their first home. Moreover, they are now also struggling in the rental market…

A: It is a big problem and it reflects a structural change, not a circumstantial change. There is a huge proportion of the population who cannot and will never be able to buy a home in their lifetime, and then there is a percentage of people who do not want to buy a home, who prefer to travel or buy a good car, or simply have more flexibility (…). What is happening is that there is an unstoppable process to expel people from their homes who traditionally lived in rental properties in the centre of cities. That has happened in all of the major cities in Europe and it is going to happen here too. The centre is reserved for people with more money and for tourist rentals (…).

Q: In your view, which operations and businesses do you think still offer good opportunities for investors in Spain?

A: Large investors still have the possibility of creating residential development platforms with good managers and to debut them on the stock market or sell them to another party. I also see options in the sector for alternative financing. If everyone wants to buy land and the banks don’t want to finance land purchases, then there is a niche to lend (expensively) to whoever wants to buy. I also see opportunities in the market for land purchases; for example buying land to develop it or to carry out the final management procedures and then sell it on (…).

Original story: El Economista (by Alba Brualla)

Translation: Carmel Drake