Starwood Wins the Bid to Acquire the San Fernando Business Park for €120M

22 May 2018 – Eje Prime

Starwood Capital has sealed the purchase of a new asset in Madrid. The private equity fund has reached an agreement with Oaktree to acquire the San Fernando Business Park for €120 million. The operation, according to market sources, is pending the finishing touches, but technically has now been completed.

In this way, Starwood has broken into the Spanish office market by outbidding other international investors, such as the PE house Carlyle, which had expressed interest in the asset, according to Expansión.

San Fernando Business Park ended up in the hands of Oaktree three years ago. It was then that the US fund purchased a portfolio of unpaid debt worth €750 million from the German bad bank FMS Wertmanagement (FMS WM).

That portfolio included, in addition to this office complex, luxury hotels such as the Arts Hotel in Barcelona and another hotel in Cascais (Portugal); five shopping centres, including the Madrilenian Plaza Éboli and Heron City Las Rozas; several storeroom buildings; and some residential and industrial assets.

Original story: Eje Prime 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Starwood & Carlyle Bid for San Fernando Business Park (Madrid)

11 May 2018 – Expansión

One of the major real estate operations of the year in the office segment is entering the home stretch.

The US fund Oaktree, which engaged the real estate consultancy CBRE to coordinate the sale of San Fernando Business Park, has been receiving binding offers for this office complex, located in San Fernando de Henares, in the east of the Community of Madrid.

The international investors that have expressed their interest in the asset include the investment fund Starwood Capital and the private equity firm Carlyle, both of which have submitted binding offers and so entered the final round of bidding for the business park.

Oaktree acquired the San Fernando Business Park three years ago, when the US fund purchased a portfolio of unpaid debt worth €750 million from the German bad bank FMS Wertmanagement (FMS WM), which included, in addition to the office complex: luxury hotels, such as the Arts Hotel in Barcelona and another establishment in Cascais (Portugal); five shopping centres, including two in Madrid (Plaza Éboli and Heron City Las Rozas); several storeroom buildings; and other residential and industrial assets.

San Fernando Business Park comprises 13 buildings and spans a total surface area of 86,000 m2, as well as 2,500 parking spaces.

Moreover, the business complex boasts 40,000 m2 of green space and recreational areas. San Fernando Business park is accessible directly from the A2, M45 and M50 motorways and its onsite facilities include a gym, banks, a children’s nursery, meeting rooms and an auditorium.

Office market

As we wait to see how the sale of Hispania’s office portfolio pans out, which is worth almost €600 million but which is up in the air due to the takeover bid (OPA) that the US fund Blackstone launched for the Socimi, the purchase of San Fernando Business Park looks set to be one of the most important operations of the year in the office segment.

Investment

Last year, investment in the office segment amounted to €2.3 billion, less than half the previous year, due to less activity by the Socimis, a shortage of supply in good locations and the challenge for investors to find the desired returns.

So far this year, investment in the office segment has accounted for 42% of the total transacted volume, reaching €1.72 billion, given that the figure includes Colonial’s takeover of Axiare, which was successfully closed in February and which has caused the investment figure to soar.

More than 600,000 m2 of office space was leased in Madrid last year, which represents the best figure in the last decade, whilst in Barcelona, 345,000 m2 of office space was leased during the same period.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Apollo Warns Of Slowdown In Investment Activity In Cataluña

19 October 2017 – Expansión

Andrés Rubio, Head of Europe for Apollo Global Management, one of the largest funds in the world and one of the most active in Spain, has said in London that the Catalan crisis “is not good” for Spain or for Cataluña and that investors are already taking into account the risk caused by the political instability.

At a conference organised by EY and the Spanish Association of Capital, Growth and Investment (Ascri) in the British capital, Rubio explained that “Spain is a model country in Europe for how it has dealt with the (financial) crisis and for the reforms that it has undertaken, above all in the employment, taxation and banking fields”. Nevertheless, “what we are seeing now is not good at all, either for Spain or for Cataluña”, he said. “Any investor looking at Cataluña now is analysing the risk”, explained Rubio, who acknowledges that he has seen a sharp slowdown in the market. “There is less activity in Cataluña now than there was a month ago, that’s for sure”.

Apollo Global Management has been one of the funds that has invested the most in Spain in recent years. Since it decided to back the Spanish market at the height of the (financial) crisis, it has invested around €1,000 million. Its main assets include an 85% stake in Altamira Real Estate, a real estate manager purchased from Banco Santander in November 2013 for €664 million, and Evo Banc, which it acquired from Nova Caixa Galicia for €60 million. It also owns a portfolio of hotels purchased from La Caixa and it wants to grow further in that segment.

Funds

Rubio’s comments echo the opinion of the other major funds meeting in London to analyse investment opportunities in Spain. Many expressed their concern for the situation in Cataluña and said that it may affect their investment decisions over the medium term. “Uncertainty is never good”, said Fernando Chueca, Director at Carlyle. “Nobody likes instability”, explained Nader Sabaqqian, from 360 Capital Partners, a technological fund that currently holds investments in two companies headquartered in Barcelona – Xceed and 21 Buttons – and which wants to make more purchases in Spain.

Above all, investors fear the political instability that may be created within the central Government, as well as the social discontent that is growing in Cataluña as the political tension rises. The heads of most of the large funds with interests in Spain say that, for the time being, they are not going to take any drastic decisions, but if the uncertainty continues, they will have to start to take action. “International investments have been suspended in Cataluña for a year now”, said another director.

Rubio, who is a Spanish citizen, but who was raised in New York, praised the clean up of the Spanish banking system during his speech at the conference. He explained that the sector has seen a reduction in the number of banks from 49 to 12 since the start of the crisis. He added that “Spain has a tailwind” and that Apollo is satisfied with the investments it has made. “We believe in Spain and we will continue investing”, he said.

Original story: Expansión (by Amparo Polo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Iberostar Refinances Its Debt & Releases Guarantees

11 December 2015 – Expansión

New financing conditions / The hotel group owned by the Fluxà family is restructuring its debt and postponing its repayments until 2021. Its profits remained stable in 2014.

Iberostar is refinancing its debt for the second time in less than three years. In April this year, the hotel group controlled by the Fluxà family restructured the majority of its financial liabilities, according to the 2014 annual accounts of the parent company, Iberostar Hoteles and Apartamentos, filed with the Mercantile Registry. At the end of last year, the group’s short and long-term debt amounted to more than €400 million – most of which was held with financial institutions – and the liabilities between the group’s companies amounted to €533 million.

The agreement establishes a new timetable, which runs until 2021 – three extra years – and reduces the guarantees provided by Iberostar. Under the previous refinancing agreement, completed in 2012 and amounting to €768 million, the hotel chain offered a personal guarantee against the obligations of a €285 million loan, as well as mortgage guarantees over Spanish assets and the pledge of its 5% stake in ACS.

Percentage in ACS

The Fluxà family is the shareholder of the construction group that has been chaired by Florentino Pérez since 2006, when Iberstar sold its tourism division to Carlyle and Vista Capital for around €900 million to focus on the hotel sector. The private equity companies created Orizonia – which no longer exists as it filed for bankruptcy in April 2013 – and the Fluxà family invested almost all of the resources obtained on the purchase of ACS.

Iberostar paid €46.82 for each share – €826 million in total. Yesterday, ACS closed trading with a share price of €28.49, representing an increase of 2.76% during the session. In 2012, Iberostar was forced to recognise an impairment on its shareholding amounting to €147.12 million, which meant that the company recorded losses that year. At the end of 2014, the company recognised its shareholding in ACS at €36.41 per share and set its recoverable value at €40 per share. Despite this difference, Iberostar has not reversed the impairment recorded in previous years.

Iberostar is represented on the board of ACS by Sabina Fluxà, the Executive Co-Vice-President and CEO of the hotel chain, and it received dividends amounting to €20.34 million on its shareholding.

In 2014, the parent company’s turnover amounted to €43.47 million, down by 6.36%. The operating result decreased by 76.4% to €7.97 million, due to a reduction in other operating income and an impairment for the transfer of tangible assets and financial instruments. Iberostar expects to improve that figure this year, by maintaining stable turnover and cutting down its expenses. Nevertheless, the net result remained stable – at around €15.7 million – due to the positive effect of the lower tax charge on its profits.

As a whole, Iberostar and its subsidiaries invoiced €1,435 million in 2014, up by 29.6%, to place it in fourth position by turnover, surpassed only by Grupo Barceló – which also includes its tourism business – , RUI and Meliá.

Dividends

In 2014, the parent company allocated its profits to offset its negative results from previous years, but it distributed €55.7 million in dividends distributed against reserves. Moreover, it repaid debt amounting to €18.78 million owing to the Tax Authorities for Corporation Tax for the years 2007 and 2008.

Meanwhile, Iberostar has the option to purchase an additional 29.15% stake in Royal Cupido, in which it already holds a 29.5% shareholding, for €44.54 million. Pontegadea, the investment arm of Amancio Ortega, controls 45.5% of Royal, which owns five hotels in Spain and earned €3.43 million in 2014.

Original story: Expansión (by Yovanna Blanco)

Translation: Carmel Drake

The ‘German Bad Bank’ Acquires Gran Vía, 68

18 May 2015 – El Confidencial

The building located at number 68 Gran Via, which used to belong to Carlyle, has a new owner: the ‘German bad bank’, FMS Wertmanagement, the equivalent of Sareb in Spain.

The building located at number 68 on the coveted avenue in Madrid has a new owner. FMS Wertmanagement, more commonly known as the ‘German bad bank’ – the equivalent of Sareb in Spain – has acquired the property, which was the first acquisition made by the private equity firm Carlyle in Spain at the end of 2005.

This asset used to belong to the real estate fund Carlyle Europe Real Estate Partners II (CEREP), which filed for bankruptcy in March 2012. It is estimated that the fund paid €45 million and so had to obtain a loan from the German entity Hypo Real Estate to finance the transaction – Hypo was taken over by the German Government in 2009 – and the debt has ended up in the hands of FMS. According to sources close to the transaction, this asset, which is currently worth around €21-23 million, has had lots of suitors.

In fact, in addition to FMS, the holding company that owns the investments of the businessman Manuel Jove (Inveravante) and the US fund, Autonomy, which has an opportunistic profile and arrived in Spain in 2013, both submitted bids.

In the context of the bankruptcy, the sale has been conducted by the bankruptcy administrator; and all indications suggest that FMS could have acquired the building for the amount of the debt, around €40 million. The sources consulted by this newspaper say that the German bad bank intends to seek a buyer for the property, at a time when the Spanish real estate market has taken off (again), and in an area (Madrid’s Gran Via) that has sparked so much interest and activity over the last year and a half.

Carlyle’s real estate ‘troubles’ in Spain

We have to go back almost ten years to see Carlyle’s first foray into the real estate sector in our country. At the end of 2005, the firm bought this property, which dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, from the Urconsa group – it was formerly owned by La Unión and Fénix Español – with a view to renovating it and turning it into luxury apartments. With a surface area of 7,600 m2, comprising three retail floors and eleven additional floors for residential use, it is totally empty at the moment.

Carlyle had intended to build 75 luxury apartments, preserving the original façade of the iconic building in the centre of Madrid. Its commitment to the real estate sector in Spain was clear and it expected to have the renovation completed within two years. However, its plans took a turn for the worse.

The Town Hall of Madrid did not grant the construction licence until April 2008, according to Cinco Días, and by 31 October 2010, only one of the commercial premises was leased out.

“We are delighted to have made our first investment in Spain. The residential market in Madrid is buoyant and we think that there will be strong demand for these new apartments in a building as impressive as this. We hope that this will be the first of many investments in Spain”, said Rachel Lupiani, Director of Carlyle Real Estate, after the deal was announced. She was responsible for closing the transaction, which was advised by the consultancy firm CB Richard Ellis and the law firm Clifford Chance.

In Spain, Carlyle also acquired land on Calle Alcalá in Madrid and the Telefónica headquarters in Barcelona – for which it paid €219 million in 2007.

The German bad bank is now looking for a buyer

The German bad bank, which operates in a similar way to Sareb, was created in 2010 with assets from the nationalised bank Hypo Real Estate. These included almost €900 million of non-performing assets and loans, including the debt relating to Gran Via, 68.

Just like in the case of Sareb in Spain, FMS is now looking for buyers for many of its non-performing assets and loans. In fact, at the beginning of this month, it sold the Gaudí debt package, which it had also inherited form the nationalised Hypo Real Estate, to the Californian fund Oaktree. That portfolio included debt relating to the Hotel Arts de Barcelona, a five-star property managed by Ritz-Cartlon, as well as another luxury hotel located in the Portuguese town of Cascais, five shopping centres, four office buildings, 17 storeooms and other residential and industrial assets.

Original story: El Confidencial (by E. Sanz and R. Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

CDC Sells Its HQ To Platinum Estates For c.€15M

27 April 2015 – Expansión

CDC used to occupy two buildings and has surrendered one of them as security to cover the guarantee imposed by the judge in the case of Palau de la Música.

At a press conference on Friday, CDC (la Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya or Democratic Convergence of Catalunya (political party)) reported the sale of its central headquarters in Barcelona to the Chinese fund Platinum. The political party occupies two adjacent buildings, which have a surface area of 4,500 square metres, on Calle Corcega in Barcelona, and according to sources close to the transaction, the price amounted to almost €15 million.

One of the two properties was surrendered as security to cover a guarantee, after the judge investigating the Millet case, involving the misappropriation of funds from Palau de la Música, imposed a €3.2 million bail charge on CDC.

The coordinator of the internal regime and spokesman for the party, Francesc Sánchez stressed that the headquarters “had not been repossessed” because if it had been “they would not have been able to sell it”.

For the CDC, this transaction is not a simple sale; they say it comes in the context of a (wider) “reorganisation”. In July, i.e. before 27 September (the date on which the Catalan elections will be held) and after the internal consultation by UDC (Unió Demicràtica de Catalunya or Democratic Union of Catalunya) about the model of the State, CDC’s national convention will approve a new ideological base, which will give a social-democratic twist and make clear a sovereign commitment, without ambiguity.

CDC acquired Enher’s former headquarters for €3.7 million (625 million pesetas) in 1998 and moved into the premises in 1999 after the former Catalan President Jordi Pujol faced the ballot box for the final time.

The organisation will continue to rent out its current headquarters for another year and plans to move into a new building after 27 September. Francesc Sánchez listed some of the features that the new building must have: it must also be located in Eixample, it must be bright and spacious and it must have “glass doors” to show transparency and the “inter-relationship” with citizens.

In any event, CDC will be looking for smaller headquarters that are less expensive to maintain. Although the new location must also have capacity to host major events such as national council meetings, which are currently held in hotels.

The purchaser of the building is Platinum Estates, a company headquartered in Hong Kong and owned by the textile magnate Harry Mohinani, of Indian origin. This is not the first investment that the group has made in Barcelona. In 2014, it acquired Telefónica’s former headquarters on Avinguda Roma, known as the Estel building. It paid €56.4 million and plans to dust off the project launched by its former owner, Carlyle, and convert the property into homes. This project has an investment budget of €100 million.

This announcement has taken the real estate market by surprise. At a time when there is surplus capital and few buildings for sale in Barcelona, neither the large consultancy firms, nor the major investor groups were aware that this building was on the market. All signs indicate that the party did not sound out many buyers and that the sale was shrouded in the utmost secrecy.

In 2013, all of the international investor groups returned to the real estate market in Barcelona. And judging by the current pressure in the market, some of them fear that they arrived too late. There is a distinct lack of buildings for sale and the scarcity is even more acute in the centre of the city. A building like the one just sold by CDC meets the expectations of most investors, many of which are looking for buildings to convert into hotels, although in this case, it is expected to continue to be used for offices.

Original story: Expansión (by M. Anglés and D. Casals)

Translation: Carmel Drake