Hispania to Convert the Café La Granja Building in Bilbao into a Hotel

10 October 2018 – El Correo

Thanks to the significant investments carried out in recent years, the investment fund Hispania has become the largest hotel group in Spain. It has outperformed traditional companies in the sector such as Meliá, HI Hoteles and Hoteles Globales in terms of the number of establishments and rooms. At the height of its expansion phase, boosted at the end of last year by the purchase of the Alua chain – which saw it acquire seven resorts in the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands for €165 million – it has set its sights on Bilbao. Just a week after another high-profile fund, the Madrid-based Millenium Group announced its intention to convert Banco Santander’s headquarters on Gran Vía into a luxury hotel, Plaza Circular is now going to witness the transformation of one of the Bizcayan capital’s most iconic buildings: the site that formerly housed Café La Granja.

The hostelry establishment, which started life on 31 July 1926 and which was acquired by the real estate firm Navarra Fitbox two years ago, has been closed since 8 February 2017 when, unexpectedly, it pulled down its shutters for the very last time. The insurance company Helvetia sold the property for almost €7.5 million. After 90 years of uninterrupted activity, the historical café has only re-opened its doors since then on a sporadic basis to host one-off events of a cultural nature, such as book fairs. The offices and insurance companies that used to occupy the upper five floors have been evicted, starting back in 2010 (…).

Hispania is going to strengthen the hotel supply in Bilbao, which is experiencing a genuine frenzy, with the planned opening of seven new properties over the medium term. The fund has been planning its debut in the town for a while, but its intentions have always focused on this area, which will draw a new Bilbao with the arrival of the fashion giant Primark and the launch of the Regional Government’s international entrepreneurship centre in the former BBVA tower, which was sold for €100 million two weeks ago. The arrival of the AVE and the strong commercial positioning have pushed up prices considerably in this area. Like in the case of the building work to be carried out on the site of Santander’s former headquarters, the transformation of La Granja will have to be approved by the Town Hall’s Heritage Committee, which has not yet assessed the project, given that it is an artistic building. That procedure may be completed this month (…).

Original story: El Correo 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Aguirre Newman Closes 2017 With a Turnover of €40 million and a New Corporate Structure After Its Merger with Savills

28 March 2018

Aguirre Newman now has a single shareholder, Savills Overseas Holding Limited, and has changed its name to Savills Aguirre Newman, the group reported in the Business Registry.

Aguirre Newman bid farewell to its last year as an independent company. The firm recently merged into Savills under the name Savills Aguirre Newman, finishing 2017 with a turnover of 40 million euros, according to the British group’s annual report. Both companies, also just finalised, commercially, their merger after the absorption of Aguirre Newman by the Spanish subsidiary of Savills.

According to the Business Registry’s Official Gazette, Aguirre Newman now has a single shareholder, Savills Overseas Holding Limited, and changed its name to Savills Aguirre Newman. The company also appointed Santiago Aguirre and Satephen Newman as advisers, both founders of Aguirre Newman together with Mark Ridley, Borja Sierra and Rafael Merry del Val of Savills.

Aguirre Newman is beginning a new phase under Savills wing in Spain, bidding farewell to 2017, a year in which the group’s net turnover reached 40 million euros. According to the latest published data, the consultancy had gross revenues of 69 million euros in 2016.

In 2017, Savills, for its part, increased its profits by 19% to 91 million euros. The British group also achieved a global turnover of 1.8 billion euros, an increase of 11% over the previous year. Savills Investment Management, the group’s investment arm, increased its portfolio of real estate assets under management by 5%, to 16.536 billion euros at the end of 2017.

Rafael Merry del Val, CEO and Co-Chairman of Savills Aguirre Newman in Spain, during a presentation of the British group’s, stated that “the merger with Aguirre Newman places as in a new level of leadership in the local market.” The group’s goal for 2018 to “gain market share and attain growth from the beginning”, since, “with just over two months of partnership, we can already see the benefits of the merger.”

Savills Aguirre Newman, a new player in the sector

The British company reported to the London stock exchange on the last working day of last year that it had finally signed a purchase agreement with the Spanish real estate consultancy. The company had advised the LSE of its intention to acquire the company based in Madrid on July 28. Savills paid 67 million euros to take over the Aguirre Newman.

According to the purchase agreement, the British consultancy paid 42 million euros when the deal was finalised, and the rest will be paid in five million euros tranches over the next five years, reaching a total of the 25 million euros that had been agreed upon by both parties. Initially, Savills had planned to complete the purchase before November 30, but some administrative setbacks caused a brief delay.

The company, however, assured market sources that the deal would be finalised by the end of 2017. The British group reported the acquisition of the company on the last working day of the year. The need for both groups to sign their merger before the end of the year was also an administrative matter, since they wanted to conclude the transaction by the end of the year to begin operating as a single entity, Savills Aguirre Newman, in the new year.

The merger will lead to a significant number of changes to the combined group’s operations throughout Spain. The first one will involve the firm’s new headquarters in Madrid’s financial centre. Savills’ Spanish subsidiary is in the process of transferring its offices to one of the capital city’s principal skyscrapers. After lengthy negotiations, the new consultancy opted for the Castellana 81 building, better known as the BBVA tower. The company will take on 8,000 square meters of space, leasing a total of six floors from the GMP socimi, which owns the asset.

The BBVA tower, built in 1981, is one of the defining features of the Azca financial centre of the Spanish capital. GMP rehabilitated the asset after its purchase and, coincidentally, Aguirre Newman, in addition to CBRE, was one of the firms that led the search for new tenants for the property. The consultancy plans to move to its new offices as soon as the two companies’ merger is formalised.

Original Story: EjePrime – C. Pareja

Translation: Richard Turner


Catalan Socimi Quonia: CNMV Authorises Market Debut

28 June 2016 – Valencia Plaza

The Catalan Socimi Quonia now has an ISIN code, required to list on any organised market, such as the stock exchange, according to sources. Specifically, it was issued the passport by the National Agency for Securities Codification (ANCV), which forms part of Spain’s National Securities and Exchange Commission (CNMV) on 7 June.

This code is essential for listing and it represents an international reference number that may be used on capital markets around the world. In the case of Quonia, the plan is for it to list on Spain’s Alternative Investment Market (the MAB), where a sizeable number of Socimis are already listed.

And others, such as GMP, the powerful Madrilenian Socimi, which sold the Mercado de Campanar in Valencia just four months ago, will not take long to join it, as its also now has the “permit” required to list on the stock market.

Purchase of Hotel Internacional

In theory, the debut of that group (GMP), founded by the Montoro family – in which the sovereign fund Singapur GIC owns a 30% stake – was scheduled for the summer, according to sources consulted by Valencia Plaza. However, in light of the current instability following the triumph of Brexit, we will have to wait and see what the heads of GMP, the owners of Madrid’s iconic BBVA Tower, end up deciding.

Quonia must be thinking the same. The company specialises in the rental of real estate asset and was founded in Barcelona at the end of July 2010. It is led by Divo Milan Haddad, a businessman whose investments are focused on the real estate sector, both in Europe and Latin America, primarily in Mexico.

Quonia acquired Hotel Internacional de la Rambla from Husa last April, after the vendor filed for bankruptcy last autumn, after receiving authorisation from the Catalan court for just over €11 million.

Original story: Valencia Plaza (by Luis A. Torralba)

Translation: Carmel Drake

GMP Will Debut On Stock Exchange Before Oct 2016

10 November 2015 – Cinco Días

One of the real estate companies that owns some of the best office buildings in Madrid will debut on the stock exchange before October 2016. GMP Property, which was constituted as a Socimi in September last year, has up to two years to list on the stock market, and it seems like the company’s managers are going to maximise that period – by all accounts, they are in no hurry to take the step, but they are already working to prepare the company to that end.

GMP Property is controlled by the Montoro family, which founded the company in 1979, as a pure real estate company, in other words, a company dedicated to the generation of income, primarily from office rentals. The GIC Real Estate International division of the Singapore sovereign fund acquired a stake in the company as part of GMP’s strategy to become a Socimi in September last year. It purchased 30% of the real estate company for €200 million, which meant that the company’s market value then stood at around €670 million.

That is an indication of the potential value of the real estate company on the stock exchange, although the company says that its market capitalisation is greater now than when GIC acquired its stake, given the better climate for economic activity in Spain and thanks to the new properties that the company has incorporated into its portfolio. “GMP is undoubtedly worth more now than a year ago”, said Xavier Barrondo, the CEO of GMP.

In this way, it will become one of the largest Socimis in Spain, alongside Merlin, Axiare, Hispania and Lar España. Zambal is the Socimi that is expected to debut on the stock market next. It is owned by the French fund IBA Capital and holds properties such as the ABC Serrano shopping centre in Madrid and Zara’s flagship store on Calle Preciados. The Socimis have the advantage that they do not pay corporation tax, but they are obliged to pay dividends to their shareholders. Moreover, they have a maximum period of two years to debut on the stock exchange.

Shareholder stability

Once listed, the managers of GMP intend to maintain the union of current shareholders, which includes the Montoro family and GIC. “It is a long-term strategic alliance”, says Barrondo. For this reason, the Socimi will only list the minimum number of shares known as free float on the stock exchange, for a small value, estimated at €2 million.

The Singapore fund holds its stake in GMP through another Socimi, known as Euro Cervantes. That company also holds other investments in Spain, primarily in shopping centres, such as La Maquinista (Barcelona) and Habaneras (Torrevieja, Alicante). The latest data available for GMP, from its annual report for 2014, indicates that the gross value of the company’s assets amounted to €1,282 million as at December 2014. (…).

Some of the most iconic buildings in its portfolio include the BBVA Tower on the Castellana, the historical headquarters of Banco Bilbao, on Calle Alcalá 16 and Garrigues’ corporate headquarters on Calle Hermosilla, all in Madrid. (…).

Original story: Cinco Días (by Alfonso Simón Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake