5 April 2018 – Expansión
The investment fund Blackstone is considering a corporate operation involving the real estate group Hispania, as revealed by the online edition of Expansión yesterday. Financial market sources indicate that the fund is interested in the group’s real estate assets, rather than in Hispania’s company structure, and may make an offer shortly. Half an hour before the close of trading yesterday, Spain’s National Securities and Exchange Commission (CNMV) decided to suspend trading of the company’s shares when they had risen by 1.65% to €18.50 per share.
In the statement, the regulator indicated that trading would remain suspended “whilst the relevant information is communicated”. The Socimi’s asset portfolio amounted to €2.5 billion at the end of last year, of which €600 million corresponds to the 25 office buildings that it is looking to sell as part of its strategy to focus on the hotel management business. The transfer of that real estate portfolio is already on track and could materialise soon with its sale to the fund Tristan Capital. That portfolio would have to be excluded from the bid that Blackstone is considering, which would amount to around €1.7 billion, according to sources in the real estate sector.
Blackstone’s objective is to acquire Hispania’s hotel portfolio, the largest in Spain, taking advantage of the interest from its existing shareholders, including George Soros, to close their investments in Spain, which were initiated in 2014 and which are expected to be liquidated in 2020. To this end, the price set in the negotiations would have to come close to the valuation of the hotel portfolio, estimated at €1.638 billion as at December 2017, compared to its current market capitalisation of around €2.0 billion. The valuation of the portfolio reflects an important appreciation with respect to the purchase cost of the assets contained therein, in which Hispania invested just over €1.069 billion, and 42% more than the total allocated, including spending on renovations and updates to the properties.
At the end of last year, the Socimi reached an agreement with its until then partner in Bay, the hotel group Barceló, to acquire 100% of that subsidiary. According to the most recent accounts, Hispania’s hotels generated revenues of €129.67 million in 2017, up from €117.8 million recorded the previous year. Of that amount, €77.9 million was generated by properties in the Canary Islands, followed by €22.1 million contributed by hotels in the Balearic Islands and €8.7 million by hotels located in Madrid.
Blackstone is the international fund with the greatest exposure to the Spanish real estate sector, following several record-breaking operations. It owns assets worth €15 billion, including 51% of Popular’s real estate business, with a gross value of €30 billion, but acquired for €5 billion. Last year, it also purchased HI Partners, the hotel subsidiary of Sabadell.
Original story: Expansión (by R.Ruiz/R.Arroyo/M.Á.Patiño)
Translation: Carmel Drake