Grupo Iffe Acquires Promorent & Implements a Change in Strategy

25 February 2019 – Eje Prime

Promorent, the second Socimi to enter the Alternative Investment Market (MAB), is changing hands. The company has been acquired by the Institute of Financial and Business Training (“el Instituto de Formación Financiera y Empresarial” or Grupo Iffe), which has purchased a majority stake through a capital increase amounting to €33.7 million, according to confirmation provided by David Carro Meana, CEO of Iffe, speaking to Eje Prime.

Following the operation, the company will cease trading as a Socimi and it has already filed a request with the MAB to enter the segment of expanding businesses under the name Iffe Futura. The group has also approved an increase in its share capital, at an extraordinary shareholders meeting, to take the leap into the field of property development.

Until now, Promorent was a Socimi with a real estate disposition. Now, with the entry of Grupo Iffe, it will also be a property developer. Moreover, the company’s new statutes provide for the possibility of acquiring and administering shares in other companies, even if they are not Socimis.

The new Board of Directors of Iffe Futura will be led by David Carro Meana. The President of Grupo Iffe will become the President and CEO of the company (…).

With this operation, Grupo Iffe is taking control of a listed company and consolidating its business as a property developer. The company, which is headquartered in Oleiros, A Coruña, already operates three other main lines of business: a business school, a financial consultancy and a business incubator.

Promorent, constituted in November 2011, has been a real estate company until now. It was promoted by the Pavón Olid family group and it was the second Socimi to make its debut on the MAB in December 2013. The company has a diversified portfolio comprising 18 assets: 11 homes in the centre of Madrid, 4 commercial premises and 3 plots (…).

Original story: Eje Prime (by Roger Arnau)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Villar Mir Redesigns Fifth Tower & Delays Award of Construction Contract

20 November 2017 – Eje Prime

Grupo Villar Mir has listened to its partners and the Town Hall, and is going to redesign Torre Caleido, the fifth tower in Madrid. The skyscraper, which is going to be built next to the Cuatro Torres, will be adapted to the requests of Megaworld Corporation, its Philippine partner, and the local government led by Manuela Carmena. Amongst other features, the project is now going to include a supermarket and a cinema, as well as more lifts than initially planned, as requested by the Town Hall.

This redesign of the building will result in a delay in the award of the construction contract, which is now expected to take place during the final month of the year. Nevertheless, OHL, the construction company that forms part of Grupo Villar Mir, is currently positioned as the favourite to build the skyscraper, since to date, it has carried out the demolition and the work to prepare the land, which spans a surface area of 33,326 m2, according to El Economista.

An investment of approximately €160 million is estimated for the main construction work to build the skyscraper, out of a total projected budget of €300 million. Moreover, Torre Caleido already knows who its most important tenants are going to be, namely: IE and Quirón. The business school has acquired 50,000 m2 of the skyscraper in its move to become the first high-rise campus in Spain, whilst the healthcare group will turn its section of the building into a state-of-the-art medical centre.

On the outside, Villar Mir has redesigned the plans to include a shopping area, which will contain a supermarket and two cinema screens, an express wish of Megaworld, the company that controls 49% of the project’s capital. The tower will have 36 storeys as well as a four-floor base, which will be 20m tall.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Torre Caleido: Villar Mir Unveils Plans For 5th Tower

11 January 2017 – El País

Yesterday, the President of Inmobiliaria Espacio, Juan Villar Mir, presented the plans for the fifth tower on the Paseo de la Castellana in Madrid, which will house the first high rise campus in the city and which will have 36 floors. He did so at an ceremony attended by the mayoress of Madrid, Manuela Carmena (Ahora Madrid) and the delegate for Sustainable Urban Development, José Manuel Calvo. The new skyscraper, designed by the studio Fenwick Iribarren y Serrano-Suñer Arquitectura, will be constructed in Madrid next to the complex known as the Cuatro Torres and will house the new headquarters of the IE University business school.

Construction of the fifth tower, which has been named Caleido, will cost €84 million. The building, which will be constructed at Paseo de la Castellana 259, will house the Instituto de Empresa (IE)’s university campus, a Quirón group medical clinic specialising in preventative medicine and sport, a shopping area and green spaces. The project, presented yesterday on the 42nd floor on the adjoining building Torre Espacio, will create 1,559 jobs during the construction phase and another 3,992 jobs once it is fully operational, according to the developer. It will be the shortest tower in the complex, at just 181m tall.

(…). The IE will occupy a surface area of 50,000 m2, with capacity for up to 6,000 students. By virtue of the lease contract that it has signed, the business school will occupy the property from 2019 onwards for a period of twenty years, extendable for another 55 years.

The total investment, including building costs, urbanisation of the plot allocated to green space, taxes and fees, will exceed €300 million. (…). The project will allow pedestrian access between the Castellana and the Monforte de Lemos thoroughfare, Parque Norte and Parque de los Pinos.

Villar Mir acquired the right to construct this skyscraper in April 2015 as the result of a public tender promoted by the Town Hall of Madrid. According to the terms set out by the Town Hall, most of the property must be used for healthcare or educational purposes, given that the plot must have a social purpose. Operation of the plot, which is owned by the Town Hall, has been granted to the company Torre Vida S.A.U. for 75 years, in exchange for an annual fee of €4 million, the highest offer of the four companies that competed in the public tender.

The Town Hall will assess, in coordination with the EMT and the Regional Transport Consortium, the requirement to reinforce and improve the transport infrastructure that supports the area, given the forecast increase in activity in the area as a result of the new building. (…).

Original story: El País (by Pelayo Escandón)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Villar Mir & IE To Sign An Agreement For Fifth Tower

26 January 2016 – El Confidencial

Nine months after winning the bid arranged by the Town Hall of Madrid to construct a skyscraper in the capital’s new financial district, Grupo Villar Mir has reached an agreement with Instituto de Empresa (IE) to allow the business school to occupy the majority of the building.

El Confidencial has confirmed with several sources close to the negotiations that the two parties expect to sign an agreement this week. And that signature will signal the starting gun for Madrid’s new skyline, as well as ensuring the viability of the project after several months of uncertainty.

The future picture of the five skyscrapers underwent some serious difficulties last summer when the initial candidate proposed by Grupo Villar Mir, the prestigious Mount Sinai hospital group, decided not to go ahead with its plans to open a health centre in the fifth tower.

In fact, the owner of OHL was awarded the land on the basis of the proposal that it would house a private hospital, with recreation and retail service areas. The plans were presented together with a letter of intent from Mount Sinai, saying that it would occupy the fifth tower, but that ended up being worthless.

Following the exit of the US group, Villar Mir began making contact with several real estate consultancy firms to find a new tenant that would comply with the requirements imposed by the town hall, namely that the property must be used for health or education purposes. Those conversations have ended up with the proposed agreement with the IE Business School.

The prestigious centre, whose MBA has just been chosen as the 12th best in the world and the best in Spain according to the Financial Times, is continuously looking for spaces to expand its educational offering. As such, it is now the neighbour with the most properties in the prestigious neighbourhood of Salamanca, which is home to its different centres, above all, around Calle María de Molina.

With the move to the fifth tower, the educational empire controlled by Diego del Alcázar would expand its classrooms beyond its traditional area of operation, but would maintain its policy of operating within Madrid and in the most representative areas for the business world.

75 year concession

The fifth tower is expected to be completed within four years, by 2020. It is an ambitious plan, which Grupo Villar Mir will tackle in partnership with the Swiss fund Corestate. The two partners have created the company Iberian Corestate, whose first operation will involve the investment of €240 million in the new skyscraper.

On the basis of the original design that won the bid, the new building will have 52,500 m2 of public space and 17,500 m2 of retail space. It will be constructed on land that will continue to be owned by the town hall, but which will be operated by Grupo Villar Mir for the next 75 years.

The group was awarded this concession after committing to pay a fee of €4 million per year to the town hall for the duration of the concession period, a figure that is much higher than the €1.9 million bid starting price.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

‘Quirón Salud’ Considers Opening A Hospital In The Fifth Tower

7 October 2015 – Cinco Días

The Quirón Salud group is currently considering opening a hospital in the so-called fifth tower, the skyscraper that the Villar Mir group is planning to build at the northern end of the Paseo de la Castellana, on land that was previously home to Real Madrid’s former Ciudad Deportiva. This step would enable the company led by Juan Miguel Villar Mir to construct this emblematic building.

The Villar Mir group was awarded the plot of land next to the Cuatro Torres in April. The company is planning to build a new skyscraper on the site and has always hoped that building would house a private health centre. The corporation won this project, through its subsidiary Inmobiliaria Espacio, but does not have any tenants for the property for the time being.

Initially, the sector thought that the US hospital group Mount Sinai was the most likely candidate to occupy the skyscraper, in its first expected foray into Spain, but the numbers did not stack up for the healthcare company – it concluded that the rental charge was too high for a social use building, according to sources close to the operation.

Now, the baton may be passed to Quirón Salud, the main private hospital group in Spain, which was created following the merger of IDC Salud (formerly Capio) and Quirón. According to sources at the company, it is currently evaluating the project. The company has 70 health centres, including the Fundación Jiménez Díaz, and manages several public hospitals in Madrid, as well as a number of prestigious clinics such as La Luz, San José and the Ruber, in the capital and Teknon and Dexeus, amongst others, in Barcelona. However, the company has not yet confirmed what kind of centre or facilities it would consider opening in the tower.

Two weeks ago, it was announced that Villar Mir will receive help from the Swiss fund Corestate Capital to construct the skyscraper. In a statement, the company announced that the project will require investment of €240 million, and although it did not specify how much each partner will invest, it did say that the possible tenants will be “a hospital, university or government body”. In fact, construction of the property is not expected to start until the tenant (client) has been identified so that the building can be tailored accordingly.

Over the last few days, the possibility of opening a business school in the tower has been evaluated. Some market sources insist that it will be hard for Quirón to make the numbers stack up to open a hospital in the skyscraper.

Villar Mir acquired the plot of land in a tender after presenting the highest bid; the company will pay the Town Hall an annual fee of €4 million for 75 years, in other words, €300 million in total. The plot has a surface area of 67,000 m2 and a buildability of 70,000 m2, of which 52,500 m2 must be allocated to social use (for example, a hospital); the remainder will be developed as retail space. That part is precisely what the hundreds of employees who work in the four adjoining towers want the most, given the lack of restaurants and services currently in the area.

Villar Mir also owns one of those skyscrapers, Torre Espacio, which is currently up for sale, with an asking price of around €600 million. The possible bidders include international funds, such as UBS, Aca, Corporación Financiera Alba and Pontegadea.

Original story: Cinco Días (by A. Simón)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Student Halls In Spain: A Wise Alternative Investment?

17 February 2015 – Idealista

When we talk about real estate investment in Spain, we tend to mean the purchase of offices, hotels and shopping centres. Nevertheless, there is another type of property that may also generate high returns: student halls of residences. However, unlike in other European countries, this accommodation does not totally convince investors looking for assets in Spain. The lack of companies that know how to optimise them, and the shortage of the ideal product are some of the reasons why no transactions are being closed in this segment, despite considerable interest.

Spain had around 1.41 million students enrolled in universities during the academic year 2013-2014, according to the Ministry for Education, Culture and Sport. That is, a little over 3% of the Spanish population were university students. This percentage places Spain ahead of other countries such as Germany and France. The majority of these students (77%) studied courses in their home province, but 20% moved to another province to study and around 3% were from overseas.

Delving more deeply into their lifestyle: approximately 64% of university students live at home with their parents or other family members. At the other extreme, those who live away from home only have two options: rent (either in a shared house or on their own) or live in halls of residence. Specifically, only 2.8% choose to stay there.

In the opinion of the experts consulted, these figures are justified by the “very low” availability of public university halls. “Although there are significant cultural differences, certain aspects indicate that the market for university halls of residence in Spain will have to converge with that of the rest of Europe”, says a report published by JLL.

The consultancy firm is convinced by its analysis that the implementation of the Bologna education reforms will promote cross-border studying between European universities, “which tend to have much high percentages of students living in halls”. In Spain, it is normal for students to opt for this type of accommodation during the first and second years only.

“The flow of students travelling to study in other countries will increase over the coming years and not only in relation to Erasmus placements”, says Patricio Palomar, Director of Office Advisory and Alternative Investment at CBRE. In his opinion, issues such as the language (Spanish), the lifestyle and the affordable prices in comparison with neighbouring countries, are just a few of the attractions that draw many foreign students to choose Spain as their destination.

The main drawbacks

Unnim, the entity created from the merger of Cajas de Manlleu, Sabadell and Terrassa, is active in this market. The bank, which was acquired by BBVA in 2011, inherited this line of business from Caixa Terrassa. The former caja constructed its first hall of residence on the Avenida Parallel, 101, in the Poble Sec neighbourhood of Barcelona back in 2007.

According to the latest data available for Unnim, this business line generated a return of 7%. Sources in the sector explain that the net return on these types of assets can reach 10%, well above the rates offered by offices, hotels and shopping centres. In countries such as the UK and USA, this business generates returns of between 11% and 15%.

Juan Manuel Ortega, Director of Investment Offices at JLL, recognises that British firms are over-valuing these types of assets in Spain. These investors are looking for halls of residences that are larger than 5,000 m2 and that have between 60 and 150 rooms. Palomar also acknowledges this trend “the same funds that operate in the UK for example are looking (for opportunities) in Spain. The problem is that the same product is not available in other countries”.

Palomar maintains that student halls in Spain are obsolete and that many of them are stuck in the 1960s. That does not happen in cities such as Amsterdam where student accommodation is modern, hotel-like and less than 10 years old.

Another one of the pitfalls that affects this business is the ownership of these spaces. Most belong to the public universities, many of which have serious financial problems and cannot afford to finance the investment needed to optimise the assets. At the same time, they cannot sell the land and allow private companies to enter the sector.

This has a very direct effect on competition; it is low, which does not lead to an improvement in the facilities either. Similarly, experts recognise that the administration of these complexes is not simple, they require professional management.

Nevertheless, Palomar states that new student halls of residence are appearing in the outskirts of cities and near private business schools. “I think Spain should focus on other kinds of tourism, beyond the holiday market; educational and health tourism (have significant potential)”.

A trickle of transactions

The lethargy in this market is such that transactions are very scarce. The last known deal involved the purchase of the Galdós halls of residence in Madrid in 2012. The British firm, Knightsbridge Student Housing paid €20 million for the property, it was the first acquisition made by the company outside of the UK. Knightsbridge Student Housing was created in 2010 with the backing of Oaktree Capital Management.

Another of the most talked about transactions involved Lazora (Concha Osácar) when it acquired the Resa Group in 2011. Resa was created in 1994 and currently manages more than 8,000 beds in 32 halls of residence. The construction company Acciona also has give halls of residence (in Albacete, Cádiz, Castellón, Lleida and Murcia), which it has tried to sell in the past.

Further proof that this branch of real estate activity in Spain is still light years away from what is happening in other countries, is that Socimis dedicated to student accommodation already exist overseas. In 2013, GCP Student Living constituted the first REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) in the UK.

Original story: Idealista (by Estefania Fonseca)