Blackstone Considers Buying Neinver from the Losantos Family for €500M

23 January 2019 – El Confidencial

Neinver, a property developer and operator of shopping centres, specialising in outlets – focused on offering discounted products – is up for sale and the US fund Blackstone is one of the buyers that is evaluating the operation. The Losantos family is asking around €500 million for the company, which has become one of the major operators in the shopping centre sector in Europe, and which would fit well into Blackstone’s portfolio given the stable rents generated by its properties and land, according to explanations provided by sources in the real estate sector.

Spokespersons from Neinver consulted about the negotiations indicated that “they decline to comment on rumours” regarding the sale operation, one of the largest underway in the sector in Spain this year from a corporate perspective.

Nevertheless, other financial sources have assured that the Losantos family has entrusted the sale of the company to Credit Suisse, which has drawn up a sales book that it has been promoting since the end of the year and which is being considered by several funds.

Blackstone is the favourite because it has already acquired assets from Neinver. In November last year, the property developer placed a package of industrial warehouses and logistics assets with Blackstone for €290 million. Therefore, this fund, the largest overseas investor in the Spanish real estate sector, is an old acquaintance of the Losantos family.

Neinver is chaired by José María Losantos del Campo. It is the largest operator of outlet centres in Spain and Poland, where it operates under two own brands: The Style Outlets and Factory. It has developed some of its assets in association with the fund TH Real Estate. In total, it has promoted and managed 16 outlet centres, and six shopping centres and retail parks (…). It has a presence in seven countries, including France, Italy, Germany, Portugal and the Czech Republic.

Neinver in numbers

Neinver recorded revenues of €93.6 million in 2017, according to the consolidated accounts filed with the Mercantile Registry. That figure represented an increase of 27% compared with the previous year.

Nevertheless, the strong performance in terms of sales was not reflected in its profits. Neinver is selling more but earning less. In 2017, its net consolidated profit amounted to €4.7 million, a third of the €16.1 million that it earned in 2016. The decrease in profitability was due in large part to the projects underway and its indebtedness.

According to the group’s consolidated accounts, the gross debt at the end of last year amounted to €466.3 million, €30 million more than during the previous year, “due to debts stemming from the new companies incorporated into the Neptune joint venture”. Neptune is the joint venture owned by Neinver and TH Real Estate.

Valuations

The €500 million asking price is without the debt. The book value of the company’s assets amounts to €913 million, according to Neinver’s own accounts. The main appeal of the company is the revenue stream stemming from the rental of its assets (…).

Original story: El Confidencial (by Marcos Lamelas)

Translation: Carmel Drake

The Grifols Family Joins Forces with Corp Promotor to Create the Largest Rental Home Group

8 January 2019 – El Confidencial

After two small ventures in the sector, the Grifols family is entering the real estate sector in a big way. And it is doing so to create the largest rental home developer in Spain. Through the company Scranton, which is controlled by the Grifols family and a group of former directors from the pharmaceutical company, they are joining forces with the Catalan property developer Corp Promotors to constitute a group that is going to build 2,500 rental homes in the Barcelona area over three years, according to sources in the real estate sector familiar with the group’s plans, which are expected to involve an investment of €230 million in total.

This corporate alliance is being carried out by the company Scranton and does not involve the Grifols as a company, which has been left out of the operation. But the success of Grifols has been impacting its shareholders for a long time now. The Dutch firm Scranton, owner of 8.67% of Grifols, is mobilising investments in other sectors using the profits obtained by the company that bears the family name.

Spokespeople from Corp declined to comment on the matter. But other financial sources familiar with the project explain that Scranton and Corp are going to create a joint venture company, in which Scranton will hold 66% and Corp will own 34%. Corp will provide land, including assets such as plots on Rambla Guipúzcoa, Bonaplata and Can Batlló II, next to Gran Vía, all in the Catalan capital. And the Grifols will provide the funds to build on that land. Sources in the real estate sector indicate that half of those 2,500 homes will be constructed in the city of Barcelona and the remainder will be built in nearby cities such as on the Torreblanca plots in Sant Just Desvern and in towns such as L’Hospitalet, Badalona and Terrassa, for example.

Corp Promotors was created by two partners who left a nightclub business in Mataró to enter the real estate sector a decade ago, at the height of the real estate crisis, when almost all of the property developers in Barcelona had abandoned their activity after running out of bank credit. Those two partners are Pedro Molina Porras and Pau Castro Sáez. According to the consolidated accounts of the group deposited at the Mercantile Registry, Corp Promotors recorded revenues of €99.8 million in 2017 and profits of more than €7 million. The book value of the group’s plots are worth €209 million but not all of them will be involved in the operation with the Grifols.

The Grifols and its partners have detected a housing emergency in Barcelona, with an alarming lack of developments and they have entered the market in search of profitability at a time when investors have surplus funds, but there are insufficient assets (…).

New player

Through its alliance with Corp, the Grifols are aspiring to become one of the major players in the Spanish real estate sector. According to the business plan prepared by the partners, once the new company is operating at full capacity, in three years time, it could be worth €1 billion and with rental assets that will convert it into a kind of high yield bond for investors.

That will be possible because Corp is one of the largest owners of land at the moment in the Barcelona area. But with so many projects underway, the group is very indebted. Its accounts reflected debts of €142 million at the end of 2017, twice the figure of a year earlier. Corp’s shareholders have been trying to sell the property developer, in whole or in part, for a year, according to sources in the real estate sector. Now, with the new partner, they can forget those plans and enter another phase of their corporate life (…).

Original story: El Confidencial (by Marcos Lamelas)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Popular Seeks To Restore Credibility By Re-Appraising Its 40,000 RE Assets

9 May 2017 – Expansión

Before the summer, the top executives of Banco Popular will have answers to the two questions that the President of the bank, Emilio Saracho, said were essential to resolve in order to define the bank’s future, namely: What are the requirements for new provisions? and Which path should the entity follow to achieve the minimum regulatory capital requirements that the supervisory authorities are going to demand of it from 1 January 2019 onwards? According to the CEO of the bank, Ignacio Sánchez-Asián, speaking at the presentation of the Q1 results, Popular is currently a long way from achieving those requirements.

Popular is conducting a complete review of the valuation of the 40,000 real estate assets that feature on its balance sheet, which have a combined gross value of just over €36,000 million. The existing provisions have to be deducted from that amount, and they represent around 45% of the book value. According to Sánchez-Asiaín, once the review, which will take several weeks, has been completed, the entity will have to publish the amount of provisions that it considers still have to be recognised on an extraordinary basis. And then, Management will be able to calculate the capital requirements needed to meet those provisions and to place the entity at the required levels in terms of own funds.

However, the situation is not easy because, according to the CEO, as a result of the new appraisals carried out by the independent experts of an unquantified number of the c. 40,000 assets, the bank has already had to recognise unforeseen provisions in the first quarter amounting to €310 million, to increase the coverage of the assets re-appraised so far.

Restoring credibility

The bank does not want to give specific figures about the scope of the new provisions, so as not to create expectations that it then is unable to fulfil because, according to its CEO, the entity’s key priority is to restore its credibility in the market (…).

Sánchez-Asiaín acknowledges that the bank “will have capital requirements in the future”, whose final quantification will depend on the performance of the traditional business, which worsened during the first quarter of this year compared to a year ago; it will also have provision requirements, which the entity’s operating profit will not cover, and it also plans to sell non-strategic assets, which it may carry out this year. “Whether or not we manage to sell the assets will depend on the prices being offered”, said Sánchez-Asiaín.

Capital increase

The fact that the bank is going to need capital is unquestionable because, at the moment, its CET1 does not amount to 8% even at full load, and that percentage will be significantly higher as of 1 January 2019. As such, even if the bank substantially improves its turnover and sells everything that it can, it will not reach that figure by itself. For this reason, at the General Shareholders’ Meeting, Saracho said that there will be a capital increase or a corporate operation or a combination of both (in the near future).

The CEO said that “investors are asking about the capital increase”, and he added that, in his personal opinion and if there is an increase in the end, then it should be aimed at institutional investors “to have credibility in the market”. Does that mean that there will not be a retail tranche? He failed to answer that question.

Original story: Expansión (by Salvador Arancibia)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Deutsche Bank Lost €68M On Operation Tag

8 May 2017 – Voz Pópuli

Deutsche Bank España recorded losses of €68 million on so-called Operation Tag, which was agreed last October, and which involved the sale of a portfolio of non-performing loans and real estate assets to the fund Oaktree for €430 million. And, the negative result from that operation drastically reduced the entity’s profit last year, which fell from €91.4 million in 2015 to €5.7 million in 2016.

The operation involved the sale of a loan portfolio that contained “a series of loans that had already been recognised as non-performing”, as well as foreclosed assets. The bank acknowledges in its most recent annual financial report that the sale “had a negative impact of €68.1 million on the entity’s income statement”. Of that amount, €40.4 million corresponded to the sale of the loan portfolio and €4.7 million to the sale of the foreclosed properties.

Part of the agreed sale of the properties was signed during the first quarter of 2017. They included assets located in Cataluña, which had a gross value on the group’s books of €7 million and which ended up being sold for €4.4 million. The other real estate assets had a book value of €29 million but their sales price was much lower, €8.1 million.

Operation Tag also had an additional cost of €23 million for Deutsche Bank España. The costs arising from the sale amounted to €8.1 million and those relating to adapting the workforce to the new structure amounted to €14.9 million.

Early retirement

In 2016, Deutsche Bank España processed the early retirement of 108 employees, compared with 24 early retirees in 2015. The entity explains in its latest accounts that the amount of pensions caused, €155 million, corresponds to commitments for pensions caused with the retiring and early-retiring employees and that those commitments are “insured or provisioned by an internal fund”. Last year, the bank recognised a provision of €13.9 million for early retirees.

In March, Deutsche Bank announced its plans to sell its retail business in Spain. The entity currently serves more than 700,00 clients in the country and employs almost 2,600 people in its retail division.

Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Alberto Ortín)

Translation: Carmel Drake

March Family Sells Vodafone TV’s HQ In Madrid For €13.3M

26 April 2017 – El Confidencial

Last Tuesday (18 April), the March family closed its first major sale of an entire building, in an operation that forms part of the asset sale plan that it has been immersed in for several years now. After taking the decision, in the spring of 2015, to rotate some of its property portfolio, the Mallorcan dynasty has now completed the divestment of an office building located in the elitist Madrilenian urbanisation of La Florida.

The building in question houses the headquarters of Vodafone TV. It has a surface area of 4,900 m2, spread over five floors (basement, -1, ground, 1st and 2nd) and 140 parking spaces. The telecommunications operator recently renewed its rental contract there for another 10 years.

The purchaser is the Mutualidad de la Abogacía, which has been advised by Cushman & Wakefield and which has paid €13.3 million for the building. It is the fifth property that the buyer has acquired in just over a year, after taking control of properties such as number 12 on the Madrilenian Calle O’Donnell last June.

Corporación Financiera Alba, the holding company owned by the March family, which has been advised during the operation by Aguirre Newman, valued this building on its books at €11.2 million, which means that it has managed to close the transaction at a substantial profit. In fact, this asset was the eighth most valuable in the entire portfolio of Alba Patrimonio Inmobiliario, the direct holding company of these properties, whose jewel in the crown is number 89, Paseo de la Castellana, which it acquired two years ago for €147 million.

Despite having put the “for sale” sign up over a significant number of subsidiaries and investments, until now, the March family had barely moved an inch in the real estate market. The only exception to that rule was the sale of three floors and several parking spaces on Calle Miguel Ángel, 23 to Axiare, in a complex operation handled in four parts back in February, whereby the Socimi managed to acquire the entire building.

The March family is stepping on the accelerator

The sale of Vodafone TV’s headquarters, located at numbers 3 and 5 on Calle Basauri, comes just three weeks after Artá Capital, one of the investment arms of the Mallorcan dynasty, completed its exit from Flex, in which it used to hold a 26.3% stake, for €80 million.

The March family’s manager has also put its stakes in Mecalux and Panasa up for sale; meanwhile, Corporación Financiera Alba has been reducing its stake in ACS for several years, to bring it below the 3% threshold for the first time this month; and it is finalising the sale of Clínica Baviera to the Chinese group Aier Eye.

Following this operation, the appraisal value of the real estate portfolio owned by the Mutualidad de la Abogacía amounts to €701.5 million and its book value stands at €575 million, comprising 44 assets in total.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Martinsa Fadesa Puts 300 RE Assets Up For Auction

6 February 2017 – Expansión

The bankruptcy administrators of Martinsa Fadesa are getting ready to initiate successive notarial auctions of various real estate assets owned by the firm, as well as of several of the companies in the Group that have filed for liquidation.

These auctions will be carried out through the auction portal of the Official State Gazette (BOE), according to information provided by the current managers.

To this end, the administrators of the company will publish information sheets about the assets to be auctioned, with the aim of providing as much information as possible to users about the assets in question.

According to sources close to the process, the liquidation of Martinsa Fadesa may be completed in 2017 once the creditors have been returned “the present value” of the assets that they financed.

The jewels in Martinsa Fadesa’s crown included a group of buildings and plots of land in Paris, as well as assets located in Poland and Morocco.

The liquidation of the company, which was one of the largest real estate companies in the country during the boom years, involved the sale of assets at discounts of around 30% on their respective book values.

It also included the auctioning off of assets and the assignation of unsold assets to creditors so that they could choose whether to carry out “daciónes en pago” or sell the assets in return for cash.

The liquidation process, which was agreed in March 2015, was structured into three phases.

The first phase included the company’s most liquid assets, particularly those located in Madrid and Barcelona and along the coast.

During the second phase, the bankruptcy administrators put mortgaged assets on the market, whose revenues were used to repay those mortgages.

The third phase was orientated towards the repayment of debt lent by the ordinary creditors with assets not sold during the first phase. Once completed, the other assets were assigned to the creditors that so desired them through a notarial procedure.

The real estate company’s liquidation process began before the summer of 2015, after the ruling was issued by the judge in Mercantil Court number 1 in La Coruña.

And, even through on 11 March 2011, an agreement was approved for Martinsa to repay debt amounting to €7,200 million over a 10 year period, without any discounts, the company’s breaches and liquidity shortages forced it to file for liquidation.

Original story: Expansión 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Popular Stakes Its Future On The Segregation Of Its RE Arm

4 November 2016 – Expansión

Banco Popular is in the eye of the storm. The bank’s senior officials are facing the future by effectively placing a firewall between the entity’s normal banking activity and its real estate risk, however, the markets do not seem to be able to trust that they will succeed in finding their way out of the tunnel the entity entered when the real estate bubble was about to burst.

Following two major capital increases, amounting to €2,500 million each, and a third, smaller, capital injection of €450 million, as a result of which a Mexican investment group, led by the Del Valle family, became a shareholder of the group, the value of the bank (based on its share price) currently amounts to less than €4,000 million, making it the domestic financial entity that has seen its market capitalisation decreased by the most this year.

Popular has two lives: one afforded by its traditional business, which focuses on rendering financial services to individuals, self-employed people and SMEs, and where its efficiency and profitability ratios are high; and the other one, linked to the real estate sector, where the cumulative losses due to the impairment of its assets represent a real threat to the rest of its activity. (…).

Although the bank has received several offers to join a larger and more powerful financial group, the Board of Directors and the main shareholders who serve on the Board have categorically rejected them all, preferring instead to continue to lead the entity along its own path. “We do not want Popular’s intrinsic value to benefit others”, the entity has said time and time again, in order to justify its negativity towards a corporate operation in which it would fail to take over the reins. (…).

The two capital increases (the first one was carried out in December 2012 and the second one at the start of the summer) were accompanied by the appointment of Francisco Gómez (a man who has worked at the bank for his entire life) as the CEO (in the case of the first) and by his replacement by Pedro Larena, previously from Deutsche Bank and Banesto (in the case of the second). The aim was the same in both cases: to try to convince the market each time that the change in management was going to effectively deal with the recurrent problems, in other words, to eliminate the real estate risk.

Popular has tried to resolve its problems in the traditional way…by selling off its damaged assets at significant discounts, offset by growing provisions…but this has not proved sufficient, not least because the entry of damaged assets onto the balance sheet has been higher than the volume it has managed to sell through individual sales. (…).

Now, Popular is pursuing a strategy to segregate a substantial part of the real estate risk that it holds on its balance sheet (€6,000 million in book value), by placing it into a company that it will also endow with sufficient capital (around 20% of its liabilities). This capital will distributed free of charge amongst Popular’s existing shareholders in a way that will completely dissociate the entity from the transfer/sale. (…).

However, even once Popular has managed to eliminate a significant part of its real estate risk, the bank’s problems will not be over. That is reflected in the ERE that it is currently negotiating with the trade unions (which should be finalised by Sunday 6 November at the latest), which proposes the closure of 300 branches and a reduction in personnel of around 1,600 people through early retirement and voluntary redundancy packages. (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Salvador Arancibia)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Madrid’s Town Hall Wants To “Completely Nullify” EMVS’s Sale To Blackstone

15 September 2016 – Inmodiario

The Town Hall of Madrid will ask the Community of Madrid’s Legal Advisory Committee to complete nullify the sales process signed between the EMVS (la “Empresa Municipal de la Vivienda y Suelo de Madrid” or the “Municipal Company for Housing and Land in Madrid”) and the fund Fidere Patriomonio, a subsidiary of Blackstone in 2013. The deal involved the sale of 1,860 social housing properties in 18 residential developments, for use as rental properties but with the option to buy.

That is according to the acting mayoress, Marta Higueras (pictured above, right), who has confirmed all of the measures that the Town Hall will take after receiving the findings of a legal report prepared by the law firm Alemany, Escalona & De Fuentes. That firm has studied all of the documentation and has reportedly found evidence of crimes. As such, it has also analysed all of the processes that may be launched to try and reverse the decision.

This request will be based on the conclusions of the “Audit Report of Sales Operations involving Real Estate Assets by the Empresa Municipal de la Vivienda y Suelo de Madrid, S.A. (EMVS) and controls performed by the competent bodies in 2012 and 2013” from the Chamber of Accounts, which was published in June this year.

This report concludes that the sale was performed “without preparing a sales document or conducting a study. Furthermore, the necessary technical feasibility and legal reports about the operation were not commissioned and the price of the assets to be sold was not set prior to their publication”. That meant that Fidere set the sales price and its price was accepted by the EMVS.

According to the Chamber of Accounts, the sale was completed at a price of €128,500,000, “below the book value of those properties, which amounted to €159,375,023.53”. Moreover, the regulations governing Adjudications of social housing properties by the EMVS were not applied, even though they had been approved by the Town Hall in 2008 and modified on 30 October 2012. Instead, the sale was governed by Article 18 of the Community of Madrid’s Rules govenring Publically Protected Housing.

The report makes it clear that the management and administration of the properties did not reflect the interests of the municipal company, “due to the possible weakening that this sales policy could have had on EMVS’ assets and therefore the Town Hall of Madrid, from whose benefit and corporate interests the EMVS strayed when selling these homes to the legal entities”.

In the event that the Community of Madrid’s Legal Advisory Committee declares the deal “completely null and void”, it would affect the preparation of the sale of the homes and the adjudication of them. In that case, the Town Hall will initiate a legal process for the courts to declare the sales contract and resolution null and void. (…).

Original story: Inmodiario

Translation: Carmel Drake

FCC To Sell Its Spanish RE Assets Worth €300M+

10 June 2016 – El Economista

FCC owns real estate assets worth €328 million. The company controlled by the Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim is working on the sale of all of its assets located in Spain, which include housing developments, land/estates, garages and other premises. Not in vain, in the last year, FCC has strengthened its team in the real estate division, whereby converting it into a sort of real estate agency. Nevertheless, far from withdrawing from the real estate market, the Spanish multi-national wants to take advantage of the recovery in the sector to combine the construction of homes with their promotion and whereby open a new line of business.

Under the leadership of Xavier Fainé, the former CEO of Cementos Portland, FCC Real Estate is looking to generate value from its real estate assets by proceeding with their orderly sale. The progressive, albeit slow, recovery of the market in Spain and the positive outlook is helping with this task – house sales grew by 9.2% during the first quarter of the year, although the figures are still 56.9% below those registered in 2007 -. Sources at the company indicate that the real estate assets belong to FCC Construcción “and they are administered from there”.

FCC’s most valuable real estate asset is a batch of land plots/estates under development in Tres Cantos, in Madrid, with have a book value of around €120 million. Also in the capital, the company owns the Las Mercedes estate, worth around €120 million. In Barcelona, it owns land in Sant Joan Despí and Badalona, which have a combined value of €64 million. The company also owns several housing developments in Vitoria, Huelva, Pino Montano and Mairena de Aljarafe, the Oporto Industrial Estate in Sevilla, as well as flats, other premises and garages in several cities. According to FCC, the total value of these assets amounts to €328 million. However, clearly the market will dictate the final consideration it receives. (…).

Original story: El Economista (by Javier Mesones)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Slim Launches €2,800M Takeover Of FCC

7 March 2016 – Expansión

On Friday, the Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim (pictured above) announced a takeover bid for 100% of FCC, after taking ownership of 36.5% of its share capital. Slim is proposing a cash offer at €7.60 per share. This price represents a premium of 15.3% with respect to Friday’s closing price of €6.59. The company has 260.5 million shares in circulation. Together with the other 118 million shares that the company is issuing through its current capital increase, Slim’s offer values the group at €2,870 million.

Slim is launching the takeover after exceeding the 30% threshold set by Spanish legislation for mandatory takeovers. On Friday, Slim explained to Spain’s National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) that it, directly or indirectly, controls 29.558% of the voting rights through Control Empresarial de Capitales (CEC), a subsidiary of Inversora Carso (IC), plus it has been “attributed” another 7.036% of the share capital. According to financial sources, this latter percentage comes from the pledge made in relation to the loans granted to Esther Koplowitz, FCC’s other major shareholder.

Obligation

The possibility of the FCC takeover has been on the cards since Slim agreed to refinance FCC, but until now it was unclear how he was going to be able to exceed the share capital threshold of 30%, beyond which level the obligation to undertake the operation is legally activated.

Slim acknowledges that “IC is obliged to make a public offer for the acquisition of all of FCC’s shares and to address that offer to all of the shareholders at a fair price”. Slim’s takeover of FCC’s capital requires the sudden takeover of Portland, the cement subsidiary of the construction and services group.

As a result, Slim announced another takeover on Friday, in this case of Portland, in parallel to the takeover of FCC. It will be launched by FCC itself and will involve the group delisting from the stock exchange.

The takeover of Portland, also in cash, will be made at €6 per share, which represents a premium of 14% above the closing price on Friday (€5.26) and 12% above the price on Thursday. At that price, Portland is worth around €310 million, compared with €272 million based on its list price on Friday.

FCC already controls 77.94% of Portland, which means that the takeover is targetted at 22% of the share capital. Following the takeover, Portland will no longer be listed on the stock market. Investors that do not participate will lose out in terms of the liquidity of their shares. Although Slim is offering a premium for his takeover of FCC, the price still falls below the price at which he purchased his shares (€9.75), which means that it will only partially offset the excess over book value at which his stake is recorded.

Original story: Expansión (by C.Morán and M.Á.Patiño)

Translation: Carmel Drake