Vía Célere Completes its Merger with Aelca to Create a Giant Firm with Land for 25,000 Homes

16 January 2019 – El Confidencial

Vía Célere has completed the integration of the real estate assets (land and property developments) of Aelca, to become one of the largest property developers in Spain with a gross asset volume (GAV) of €2.2 billion and a land bank for the construction of 25,000 homes. From today, the company has the capacity to deliver an estimated 2,000 homes in 2019 and 5,000 homes in 2021.

To put that into context, Metrovacesa owns land for the construction of 38,000 homes, has a GAV of €2.6 billion, and so it is still the largest property developer in Spain. Meanwhile, Aedas has land for 14,521 homes and a GAV of €1.6 billion, whilst Neinor, with a GAV of €1.7 billion, has land for another 13,500 units.

Following the operation, Värde is now the owner of 75% of the shares in Vía Célere, whilst the other minority shareholders (Marathon, Attestor, BAML, Barclays, DB and JPM) own the remaining 25% stake. The company is also strengthening the diversification of its asset portfolio with 38% in Madrid, 20% in Málaga, 11% in Barcelona, 9% in Sevilla, 5% in Valencia and 17% in other provinces across the rest of Spain.

The purchase of Aelca by Vía Célere was made with one clear objective in mind: to grow the company so as to be able to list it on the stock market, given that the transaction has allowed the company chaired by Juan Antonio Gómez-Pintado (pictured above) to incorporate assets worth €1.3 billion (…).

Future stock market debut?

Since then, the rumours regarding the possible stock market debut of Vía Célere have been constant (…). In fact, it was initially scheduled for the spring of 2018, but it was always known that the property developer needed to be larger to be able to compete in the market with Neinor, Metrovacesa and Aedas (…).

Original story: El Confidencial 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Aelca to Manage Sareb’s Land After Selling its own Assets to Vía Célere

2 October 2018 – El Economista

The property developer Aelca has sold its entire asset portfolio to Värde, including its land and developments in progress, which are going to be integrated into Vía Célere. Nevertheless, far from disappearing from our radars, the company founded by José Juan Martín and Javier Gómez is going to continue operating and, for the time being, is going to do so linked to Sareb, according to explanations provided by several sector sources speaking to this newspaper.

The company has been negotiating with the bad bank for months to sign an alliance that would turn it into the manager of a portfolio of land worth €800 million. At the outset, Sareb structured the operation in a different way, since its initial objective involved injecting those assets into a listed industrial company or one with concrete plans to debut on the stock market, to give liquidity to the land.

Nevertheless, Sareb’s plans for its property developer business took an about turn after both Aedas Homes and Vía Célere took the decision to exit the process in which they were finalists together with Aelca. In addition, the intentions of Värde, the main shareholder of both Vía Célere and Aelca, to integrate the assets of the latter into the former, were revealed, giving rise to the large property developer in Spain by asset volume, with a gross asset value (GAV) of €2.2 billion.

In this context, Sareb and Aelca sought a formula that would allow them to continue with their future partnership. And that involves creating a company with the bad bank’s property development business, in which it will hold a majority stake and Aelca will serve as the industrial partner and manager of the assets. Thus, according to the same sources, the most likely scenario is that a banking asset fund (‘fondo de activos bancarios’ or FAB) will be created, which will include land and residential projects from Sareb worth €800 million, in which the company chaired by Jaime Echegoyen will own around 90% and Aelca will acquire the remaining 10%.

On the other hand, the same sources state that Aelca will continue to buy land and build developments independently of Sareb. In this business, the founders of the real estate firm enter into play again, who despite having sold their stakes to Värde, will continue to be associated with the fund “to support the company as an independent manager and developer of residential properties in Spain”, explains the firm in a statement.

After the transaction, Javier de Oro will take on the role of Director General at Aelca, having served as Head of Real Estate at Aliseda, the exclusive administrator of Banco Popular’s real estate assets at risk.

Vía Célere, founded and chaired by Juan Antonio Gómez Pintado, will retain its identity and its 300 employees; depending on its on-going needs, it will resize its structure over the next few months. The new company will have the capacity to deliver around 2,000 homes in 2019 and 5,000 homes in 2021, with a more diversified portfolio, although ,most of its land is located in Madrid (38%), Málaga (20%) and Barcelona (11%), three of the markets with the highest demand.

Following the integration of Aelca’s assets, Värde will control 75% of Vía Célere, and the remaining 25% will be distributed between minority shareholders (Marathon, Attestor, BAML, Barclays, DB and JPM).

Original story: El Economista (by Alba Brualla)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Värde Merges Vía Célere & Aelca to Create one of Spain’s Largest RE Firms

1 October 2018 – El Español

The US fund Värde has created and will control one of the largest residential property developers in the country after merging the two companies in the sector in which it holds a stake, Vía Célere and Aelca, according to a statement issued by the entity.

The resulting company, which will retain the name Vía Célere, will have the capacity to deliver 2,000 homes in 2019 and 5,000 homes in 2021.

Värde will control 75% of the share capital of the new Vía Célere. Nevertheless, the firm will continue to be led by Juan Antonio Gómez-Pintado (pictured above), who also chairs the real estate trade association.

This is the US fund’s second merger operation in the Spanish real estate sector, after it integrated Dos Puntos, the real estate firm that it constituted with assets left over from the San José group, and Vía Célere in April 2017.

With its latest operation, Värde says that it is “reaffirming its commitment to the Spanish market”, which it considers is still highly “fragmented” and “needs greater consolidation by the operators to provide a rate of deliveries that reflects the budgets prepared”.

Värde, together with Lone Star, Castlelake, Blackstone and Cerberus, is one of the overseas funds that arrived in Spain during the peak of the crisis to buy up real estate assets, above all those that the banks had been left with after foreclosing debts.

Possible resizing of the workforce

According to Värde’s data, the property developer that it has created owns assets worth €2.2 billion, located all over the country, although the firm did not provide details about the new entity’s landbank in square metres or the number of homes under construction.

According to information provided by the new Vía Célere, 38% of its assets are located in Madrid, 20% in Málaga, 11% in Barcelona, 9% in Sevilla, 5% in Valencia and the remaining 17% in other provinces.

25% of the share capital of the new Vía Célere, which is controlled by Värde (75%), is distributed between other shareholders, all of them are foreign investors, such as Barclays.

At the operational level, the new real estate giant says that, in theory, it will hold onto the 300 employees that make up the workforce, although it does not rule out “resizing its structure” over the coming months, depending on its needs.

Original story: El Español

Translation: Carmel Drake

CBRE GI Invests €10M in Star Project in Plaza de Colón (Madrid)

21 June 2018 – Eje Prime

CBRE Global Investors (CBRE GI) is increasing its commitment to Spain with its latest project. The investment arm of the CBRE group is going to invest €10 million in the project to renovate the building at number 1 Plaza de Colón and, to this end, the multinational firm has engaged one of the most sought-after architects in the world, Norman Foster. The new property, which is going to be constructed on the site of the former Barclays headquarters, will become the star of CBRE GI’s growth plan in Spain.

The asset manager acquired the former Barclays headquarters in 2017. In November of the previous year, the financial institution started to sound out the possibility of selling the building on Plaza de Colón (at the intersection of Paseo de la Castellana and Paseo de Recoletos) to move to another location and, three months later, in January, it sealed the deal.

Three years after the acquisition, CBRE GI is preparing to transform the building, a project that has formed part of its plans since it completed the operation. The former Barclays headquarters is now beginning a renovation that will convert it into Axis, where offices and a commercial area are going to be opened on the four floors that will comprise the new asset.

This project forms part of an investment plan that will amount to €800 million. The company has almost one hundred properties in its portfolio, spread across the retail, office, logistics and hall of residence markets.

Nevertheless, in May, the company announced that it is going to enter the residential sector in 2018. The consultancy firm’s investment fund wants to access that segment through the rental market (…).

The company’s objective for this year is to repeat or even exceed the investment figure recorded last year. In 2017, the manager closed transactions amounting to €1.3 billion.

In addition, CBRE GI, which works with eight investment funds in Spain, manages a portfolio of assets worth €3.2 billion (…).

Original story: Eje Prime (by J. Izquierdo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sonae Considers Listing its Retail & RE Service Divisiones

22 May 2018 – Eje Prime

Sonae is considering launching its retail business on the stock market. The Portuguese company has engaged the banks Barclays, BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank to explore the leap onto the stock market of its divisions Sonae MC, which is dedicated to food retail, and Sonae RP, the arm dedicated to the group’s real estate services. The fashion and sports division, owners of brands such as Zippy, Losan and Salsa, amongst others, would be left out of the operation.

The group explains in a statement that it is evaluating the potential entry onto the stock market of some of its retail business portfolio, in which it would retain a majority stake. The purpose of this move is to create value for shareholders and ensure stability in the growth of its business.

Sonae carved out its fashion and sports business from the rest of the group in 2016, after purchasing Salsa and Losan. That division, which is called Sports&Fashion, includes the fashion and sports equipment chain Sport Zone; the children’s clothing chain Zippy; the ladies’ fashion label Mo; the outdoor chain Berg; the Spanish chain Losan (…) and the Portuguese firm Salsa, which specialises in denim.

As a whole, the Sonae group closed 2017 with turnover of €5.6 billion, up by 6.9% compared to the previous year. The Sports&Fashion division of the Portuguese retailer saw its revenues rise by 11.7% in 2017 to €589 million, nevertheless, Sonae MC continues to generate the bulk of the business, with sales of €3.9 billion in 2017.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Record Financing Deal: Testa Raises €0.8bn From 16 Banks

15 December 2017 – El Confidencial

Testa has managed to close new financing amounting to €0.8 billion and, in a move that has made the deal remarkable, has not had to use any of its buildings as collateral.

As El Confidencial revealed, the entity in which Santander, BBVA, Merlin and Acciona hold stakes, was negotiating to refinance all of its debt so as to be well positioned to make its debut on the stock market and to have a sizeable sum to make new purchases.

In the end, according to financial sources, the Socimi has obtained the backing of 16 financial entities for the largest unsecured loan ever granted to a company in this sector in Spain. The new loan will be structured in three tranches, whose maturity dates will range between two and five years.

The first, amounting to €0.35 billion, is a bullet loan, which will be repaid in its entirety upon maturity, in December 2022; the second, for the same amount, is a 2-year bridge loan, which the company plans to refinance with a bond; and the third, a line of credit amounting to €0.1 billion has a mortgage guarantee over five years.

The entities that have participated in this financing are Banco Sabadell, Santander, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Caixabank, Citigroup, Credit Agricole, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, ING, JP Morgan, Mediobanca, Natixis and Société Générale.

Following this agreement, Testa’s leverage ratio has increased from 15% to just under 35% and all of its debt is now corporate.

The Socimi is working with a view to making its debut on the main stock market in the spring. It will make that move with a portfolio comprising 9,219 homes dedicated exclusively to rent, spread over 111 buildings and worth almost €2.2 billion.

Nevertheless, thanks to the signing of this new financing, the Socimi now has fresh money to take on new acquisitions before its stock market debut, in line with the purchase that it announced in September of 135 homes from BuildingCenter, the real estate subsidiary of CaixaBank.

65% of Testa’s portfolio is located in Madrid, San Sebastían accounts for 7%, Barcelona 5%, Valencia 4%, Mallorca 3% and other locations the remaining 15%.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Santander Wants To Sell RE Assets Worth €6,000M In 1 Year

30 October 2017 – Voz Pópuli

Banco Santander does not want to stand idly by following the sale of Banco Popular’s real estate. After the completion of that operation (the largest ever real estate transfer in Spain), the entity chaired by Ana Botín wants to continue accelerating its real estate clean up. In this way, it plans to reduce its real estate exposure by more than €6,000 million over the next year.

That would mean that Santander’s real estate balance would decrease by half, given that it currently amounts to around €12,300 million in gross terms (excluding provisions).

According to the bank’s CEO, José Antonio Álvarez, speaking at the results presentation, the objective is for the entity’s real estate exposure “to be immaterial” by the end of 2018.

This immateriality means having a net balance of between €1,000 million and €2,000 million left on the balance sheet within 14 months, besides the rental properties, explained the banker. That, in turn, means selling around €6,000 million (in gross terms) and leaving around €6,000 million on the balance sheet.

The numbers

In this way, Santander España’s net exposure to the real estate market is €5,900 million. The entity has an average coverage ratio of 52% over these assets, which means that their gross value is €12,300 million.

Of those €5,900 million, €3,372 million are foreclosed assets, €1,203 million are rental properties and €1,325 million are delinquent real estate loans.

In August, Santander agreed to transfer almost €30,000 million (in gross terms) of Popular’s property to Blackstone. Specifically, the bank sold 51% of a new real estate company, for €5,100 million and retained ownership of the remaining stake.

In terms of the rest of the real estate assets on its balance sheet, Santander could undertake similar operations, although it will also continue to analyse sales through the retail network and the option of putting properties on the market through Socimis. Both the Spanish bank and its competitors are under pressure from the ECB to get rid of the real estate on their balance sheets as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Santander is negotiating with Värde Partners, owner of 51% of WiZink, to repurchase Banco Popular’s customer card business and to sell it Barclays and Citi’s business in return.

Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Fortress Unwinds Its Final Positions In Spain

7 September 2017 – Voz Pópuli

Fortress has definitively closed a chapter in its history in Spain. The US vulture fund, regarded as one of the most aggressive in the world, has launched two operations in the market through which it is looking to offload its final positions in the Spanish financial sector.

The two deals in question are Project San Siro and Project Baresi. In total, they comprise paid and unpaid loans worth around €300 million, according to financial sources consulted by Vozpópuli. The candidates to buy these loan packages include other opportunistic funds.

The two projects essentially comprise the final dregs of the portfolio that Fortress holds in the Spanish banking sector: loans from Santander, Barclays España (now part of CaixaBank) and Lico Leasing, the former finance company of the savings banks that Fortress purchased at the height of the crisis.

The US fund, led in Spain by the banker José María Cava, was one of the first to enter the financial sector at a time when the lack of trust at the international level was at its peak. It was between 2010 and 2011, when the first interventions of the savings banks began and several cold mergers were carried out, which gave rise to groups such as Bankia.

Critical time

Fortress completed its acquisition of a portfolio from Santander in 2012, just before the rescue of the finance sector. In that deal, Fortress purchased €1,000 million in consumer credits from the group chaired by Ana Botín.

A year later, the US fund announced the purchase of Lico Leasing. That was Fortress’ last major operation in Spain, which broke down just two years later. The fund took a long time to obtain authorisation from the Bank of Spain to approve that acquisition, and so by the time it did receive it, the credit tap had been reopened and so Lico arrived late to the recoveries sector.

For that reason, Fortress decided to close this business and its other financial commitments in Spain. First, it sold one of its recoveries platforms (Paratus) to Elliott and Cabot. Next, it sold Geslico to Axactor. And in terms of the other portfolios (Lico, Santander, and Barclays), it let some of them mature and the remainder is what is now being put up for sale.

It also leaves behind other possible opportunities that the fund considered, such as its failed entry into the share capital of Sareb and of other savings banks, with which it was unable to reach an agreement due to the significant price differences. Fortress is now more focused on other business niches in Spain and most notably in the Italian market, where it purchased, together with Pimco, the largest portfolio of loans, worth €17,000 million, from Unicredit last year. Given its profile, the Spanish banking sector will become the focus of Fortress once again when the next crisis hits.

Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Mutua Sells Palacio de Miraflores, Nike’s Headquarters in Madrid, for €60 Million

 

23 August 2017

Remer Investment is the new owner of the office building

Mutua Madrileña has finalized the sale of the Palacio de Miraflores, a property located in the centre of Madrid, which is now in the hands of the company Remer Investment, this newspaper confirmed with various sources in the sector.

The new owner has paid about 60 million euros for this classical style office building, located at 15 Calle Carrera de San Jerónimo, just 200 meters from Madrid’s Congress of Deputies.  The building is the site of Nike’s headquarters in the capital city.

The deal is part of the insurer’s policy of dynamic asset management, which is based on the analysis of possible purchases or sales of real estate assets in favourable circumstances. In this case, the Palacio de Miraflores is one of Mutua’s office assets that, despite being in a very central location, is not in the Castellana area, which is considered the prime zone for corporate real estate in Madrid and is where the principal buildings owned by the company in the city are located.

The Palacio de Miraflores, which was included previously as a Property of Cultural Interest by the Spanish government, was acquired in 1999 by Mutua Madrileña, and for which it paid 3 billion of the old pesetas (about 18 million euros). The building, which was designed by the architect Pedro de Ribera and built between 1731 and 1732, has an area of 7,132 square meters distributed between six floors and 81 underground parking spaces.

In 2007, the building was chosen by Casa Asia to house its delegation in Madrid, but since 2011 it has become Nike’s headquarters, which left Las Rozas to move to this emblematic building, where it rented 2,800 square meters, distributed on two floors. In addition, the sports company shares the building, which is fully occupied, with other tenants such as the National Tourism Office of Japan and the company Nigel Wright, among others.

The Palacio de Miraflores, which was originally the residence of the Count of Villapaterna, who was named as the Marqués de Miraflores in 1817, was rehabilitated by the insurer in 2011 as part of the real estate modernization plan that Mutua undertook between 2008 and 2014. The objective of this reform was to upgrade the building to attain higher levels of efficiency and sustainability, reducing its energy consumption.

Equity portfolio

At the end of 2016, Mutua Madrileña, which confirmed the sale of the property to eleconomista.es, had assets with a market price of 7.331 billion euros, €500 million more than at the end of the previous year. The insurer’s real estate portfolio accounted for 19% (1.446 billion euros) of the total.  At the end of last year, the portfolio was composed of 25 buildings with a total area of 210,060 square meters.

Among Mutua Madrileña’s latest acquisitions is an office building located at 51 Calle José Abascal. This property, located in Madrid’s central business district, underwent an intense renovation and last July, Barclays announced that it would set up offices there. The financial institution will be installed in the old Philatelic Forum building for at least a ten-year period, fully occupying the building’s 3,600 square meters.

Among the insurer’s principal properties on the Paseo de la Castellana in Madrid, are its headquarters, at number 33, as well as the numbers 31, 36-38, 50 and 110. It also owns the Torre de Cristal, the Torre de Colon and the Torre de Alfredo Mahou (2 Plaza de Manuel Gómez Moreno).

Original Story: Eleconomista.es – Alba Brualla

Translation: Richard Turner

Barclays Leases Central Madrid Office From Mutua Madrileña

26 July 2017 – El Confidencial

Last year, just a few months apart, Mutua Madrileña and Barclays starred in two of the most important office transactions in the capital’s recent history.

On the one hand, during the summer, the insurer broke a decade of investment drought when it acquired the property at number 51 on Calle José Abascal, the former headquarters of Fórum Filatélico.

On the other hand, in the autumn, the British bank took the decision to sell its last jewel in Spain with the sale of the property at number 1 Plaza de Colón, an operation that was completed at the beginning of this year.

Now, the paths of these two entities have crossed again with a rental agreement that they have signed for Barclays to occupy the whole, recently refurbished, Mutua Madrileña building.

The property, located just a stone’s throw from the heart of the Paseo de la Castellana, has a surface area of 3,600 m2, spread over seven floors and 62 parking spaces. It has just been renovated in accordance with the latest energy efficiency and sustainability technologies.

Mutua Madrileña acquired the building for €30 million from Credit Suisse, an entity that had, in turn, taken over the property during Fórum Filatélico’s bankruptcy process (…).

Now that the property has restored its past splendour, Barclays will install its investment banking and corporate banking activities there, given that it sold its entire retail business to CaixaBank two years ago for €820 million.

Barclays’ former headquarters on Plaza de Colón was acquired by CBRE GI, which also plans to carry out a comprehensive renovation of that property, which may be used for retail purposes in the future.

Original story: El Confidencial (by R. U.)

Translation: Carmel Drake