Sareb’s Losses Plummeted by 55% in 2018 to -€878M

28 March 2019 – Cinco Días

Sareb recorded losses of €878 million in 2018, which were 55% greater than those registered in the previous year. Moreover, the bad bank forecasts a similar result for this year.

Despite the disappointing results, Sareb ended 2018 with own funds of €2.6 billion, which represents a sufficient volume to not have to request any capital increase from its shareholders, which include most of Spain’s major banks and the FROB.

The President of the bad bank, Jaime Echegoyen, observed that his company is committed to the divestment of the problem assets that it acquired from the struggling banks during the crisis, and to maximise its returns. Sareb is competing against many of the banks, which are now selling large portfolios of real estate assets at significant discounts. Nevertheless, it is reluctant to match those discounts given that its cost of managing the assets is lower than the discounts being asked for.

Instead, Sareb has opted to transform the assets it owns by finishing suspended developments and building new homes on the land that it owns. Within the coming days, the company is expected to close an agreement with a property developer, which will build new assets on some of its land.

At the end of 2018, the bad bank recorded total revenues of €3.65 billion, down by 5% YoY. It sold 21,152 units during the year, up by 12% YoY. But, it continued to incur significant expenses – its financial costs alone amounted to €658 million, whilst its operating expenses amounted to €697 million, resulting in the aforementioned losses.

Since its creation in 2012, Sareb has now reduced its global portfolio by one third (€16.5 billion) and repaid 30% of the debt that it issued to pay for the assets in the first place (€15 billion).

Original story: Cinco Días (by Ángeles Gonzalo Alconada)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Grupo Lar & Centerbridge Join Forces to Build Logistics Assets

10 March 2019 – Expansión

The Spanish real estate firm Grupo Lar has joined forces with the US private equity company Centerbridge to promote a portfolio of latest generation logistics warehouses.

The assets in the portfolio will primarily be located in Madrid and Barcelona, but opportunities will also be sought in Valencia, Málaga, Sevilla and the Pais Vasco.

The joint venture between the two firms will compete with another partnership launched in 2017 to invest in the logistics sector between the fund manager CBRE Global Investors and Montepino.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

The Fund Centricus Enters the Bid to Buy Solvia

28 November 2018 – Expansión

A candidate with an exotic air about it has entered the auction for Solvia, the real estate subsidiary controlled in its entirety by Sabadell. The fund Centricus, which is headquartered in London but which has several Chinese and Japanese shareholders, has submitted a binding offer to acquire Sabadell’s asset management platform, according to sources familiar with the process.

Official sources at the bank preferred not to comment in this regard. Centricus wants to enter the Spanish market to compete with the large investment funds specialising in asset management, such as two of the other players interested in Solvia: Cerberus and Intrum, formerly Lindorff.

Centricus manages assets worth more than USD 20 billion and has worked together with the Japanese giant SoftBank to raise funds amounting to USD 100 billion at the international level.

Asian alliances

The British fund also recently joined forces with the Chinese companies China Merchants Group and SPF Group to launch a USD 15 billion fund to invest in technology companies.

Centricus, Cerberus and Intrum have all submitted binding offers for Solvia amounting to more than €300 million. According to sources close to the operation, one of the funds has even offered an amount close to the €400 million that Sabadell aspires to receive. The bank has awarded the mandate to divest Solvia to Alantra.

Sabadell activated the sale of its real estate platform after cleaning up €11.5 billion in toxic assets from its balance sheet. At that time, it preferred to not sell Solvia, like the majority of its competitors did, to try to maximise its revenues. The bank considers that the real estate platform has significant latent profits. Cerberus could be the favourite in the contest since it is now holding advanced conversations with the entity.

Natural buyer

The US fund is the “natural” buyer for Solvia, say financial sources. In fact, during the summer, Cerberus acquired two large portfolios of foreclosed properties from Sabadell (Challenger and Coliseum), with a combined gross value of €9.1 billion.

Sabadell wants to sign the sale of the real estate platform before the end of this year to have its balance sheet free of property remnants. Solvia manages 148,000 assets, with a value of more than €30 billion. In parallel, the bank has also placed up for sale its property developer subsidiary, Solvia Desarrollos Inmobiliarios. The completion of that operation has been delayed until the beginning of 2019.

Original story: Expansión (by R. Sampedro)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Haya Real Estate Prepares for its Stock Market Debut

23 January 2018 – Cinco Días

Haya Real Estate is another player in the real estate sector that is heading towards the stock market. The firm manages property developer loans and foreclosed real estate assets on behalf of Bankia, Sareb, Cajamar, Liberbank, BBVA and other financial institutions, worth €39.884 billion.

The company is owned by the private equity fund Cerberus, which created it back in October 2013 after acquiring a firm dedicated to real estate management from Bankia, called Bankia Habitat, in light of the need for the Spanish financial sector to get rid of its property-related toxic assets in a professional way.

Sources at the investment bank indicate that Haya’s debut on the Spanish stock market has been sketched out and will follow the format of the debuts of the property developers Neinor and Aedas, in 2017, and the upcoming debuts of Metrovacesa and Vía Célere. No decision has yet been taken regarding the valuation or percentage of the stake that Cerberus will sell. The news of Haya’s possible stock market debut was published by Bloomberg on Monday night. A spokesperson for Haya declined to comment on the news.

Haya, led by Carlos Abad Rico (formerly of Canal + and Sogecable) offers services throughout the entire chain of the real estate sector, but it is not a property developer: it manages, administers, securitises and sells assets but does not own them. The company mainly focuses on two businesses. Firstly, the advice and subscription of loans and guarantees, the management and recovery of debt and the conversion of the obligations on property developer loans into foreclosed real estate assets. And, secondly, the recovery and management of property through its sale or rental. The firm employs 680 professionals and has a sales network comprising 2,400 brokers. The value of the firm’s property developer debt portfolio amounts to €28.719 billion and of its real estate assets is €11.165 billion.

Haya recorded EBITDA of €89.9 million during the first nine months of 2017, up by 54% compared to the same period a year earlier, with sales of assets worth around €2.5 billion and an effective turnover (essentially commissions) of €165.8 million. The average management fee during the first nine months of last year was 4.25%.

Competitors

Haya has been growing with aplomb since 2013, but it has several major rivals. Blackstone, which purchased 51% of Popular’s real estate assets from Santander last summer for more than €5 billion, created Anticipa Real Estate, under the structure of the former Cataluña Caixa Inmobiliaria. That platform acquired 40,000 mortgages from the extinct Catalan entity for €4.123 billion in 2015. Since then, it has acquired those types of mortgage debt portfolios, with an investment that amounts to around €7 billion.

Meanwhile, Servihabitat belongs to the fund Texas Pacific Group, (TPG), which has held a 51% stake in the servicer since September 2013, when CaixaBank sold it that percentage, holding onto the remaining 49%. It manages assets worth around €50 billion. Altamira is owned by Santander (15%) and the fund Apollo (85%), which acquired its stake in November 2013. Its assets in Spain are also worth around €50 billion. Solvia, owned by Sabadell, manages assets linked to real estate worth more than €31 billion.

Original story: Cinco Días (by Pablo Martín Simón, Laura Salces Acebes & Alfonso Simón Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Lidl Invested €110M Opening 29 Stores in Spain in 2017

11 January 2018 – Expansión

Lidl opened 29 new supermarkets in Spain in 2017, an expansion of the commercial network that involved investment of €110 million for the construction and fitting out of its new stores. Note, that figure excludes the disbursements made to lease or buy the land on which the premises were built.

The store openings were primarily carried out in areas where the German chain did not yet have a presence, although “some establishments were opened to replace others that already existed and that were either too small or that had been replaced by another store in a better location”. The new Lidl stores are the largest that the company has ever opened; they have an average retail space of around 1,400 m2.

The company has placed its focus on this expansion plan to enhance the space it dedicates to fresh produce, which now accounts for a third of its offer and which has become the main tool that the traditional distribution groups are using to deal with the threat from the purely online distribution groups.

Andalucía leads the ranking

By geographical region, the 29 inaugurations that Lidl undertook in 2017 were concentrated in Andalucía (6), the Community of Valencia and Cataluña (5 in both) and the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands and Madrid (3 in each). Above all, the chain bet on growing in coastal towns with significant tourist traffic. Nevertheless, Lidl also explored new locations, opening its first store in a shopping centre (in Islazul, Madrid).

The German firm has 540 stores and ten logistics platforms in Spain. Lidl closed its 2017 tax year in February. In 2016, it recorded turnover of €3.335 billion in the national market, up by 9.4%.

Original story: Expansión (by Victor M. Osorio)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Cerberus Gets its Cheque Book out again to Buy NPLs from CaixaBank

4 December 2017 – Voz Pópuli

Cerberus is stepping on the accelerator in Spain. The US fund has starred in another major operation just days after acquiring a real estate portfolio from BBVA. One of Cerberus’s subsidiaries, Gescobro, has won an auction for €0.8 billion in non-performing loans and real estate from CaixaBank.

The fund has purchased part of that portfolio, known as Project Egeo, whilst the Norwegian group Lindorff has bought the rest, according to financial sources consulted by this newspaper.

Part (€0.5 billion – €0.6 billion) of this €0.8 billion portfolio comprises unsecured loans (credit cards, personal loans and others without any guarantee) and just over €0.2 billion relates to loans to SMEs secured by real estate.

This is Cerberus’s fourth operation in the Spanish financial and real estate sector in 2017 following the acquisition of Project Jaipur from BBVA (€0.6 billion in non-performing property developer loans; the purchase of the real estate arm of Liberbank, Mihabitans, for €85 million; and the acquisition of €13 billion in property from BBVA for €4 billion.

Strategic fit

The sale of Project Egeo, which is still pending the completion of the necessary paperwork, forms part of the routine divestment plans of the Catalan group. In this way, it is managing and controlling its default rate and complying with the regulatory requirements of the European Central Bank (ECB).

Currently, the group’s default rate stands at 6.4%, after falling by seven tenths in the last year. In total, its doubtful loans amount to €15.3 billion, of which €13.9 billion are in Spain. It has another €7.2 billion in foreclosed assets.

The firm that has won the auction, Gescobro, has been led by Iheb Nafaa until now, but he was recently poached by Servihabitat, the real estate company owned by TPG (51%) and CaixaBank (49%).

Meanwhile, Lindorff has been one of the main competitors in the bank debt market since 2012. More than a year ago, it expanded its real estate business with the purchase of Aktua, the former real estate arm of Banesto; and it strengthened its business through a merger with Intrum Justicia.

Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake

WeWork, The Co-Working Giant, Arrives In Spain

13 September 2017 – El Español

The co-working space giant WeWork, which is worth around $22,000 million, has finally arrived in Spain. And it already controls two offices in Barcelona and Madrid. The latter is going to open first, with a hosting service for small companies and independent professionals.

The offices in Madrid are located on Paseo de la Castellana, 43. This 9-storey newly-renovated office building, with a surface area of 6,000 m2, is owned by Colonial and used to house the headquarters of the consultancy firm PwC and also of Abengoa (which moved out in July 2016 to cut costs).

WeWork is not yet offering on its website the space that it has available in Barcelona. According to Ejeprime, it signed an agreement with the Catalan group Castellví in July to occupy a building in the 22@ district, where many of the main technological companies are concentrated.

The strategy that WeWork has adopted for its arrival in Spain is similar to the one that it has implemented in other markets: it does not own any real estate properties outright but rather reaches long-term agreements to lease them. Nevertheless, in May, it signed an alliance with an investment firm with the aim of acquiring real estate assets.

Who is WeWork?

WeWork is a project born in 2010 that offices flexible work spaces for workers. In Madrid, its launch prices start at €250 per month (in the case of individual desks for workers) and range up to €14,500 for private offices with up to 50 desks.

The company, which has a presence in another 17 countries, has raised more than $4,400 million, with investors ranging from fund managers, such as Fidelity and T Rowe Price, to banks such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan.

The most recent capital injection was received in August. In total, $4,400 million was contributed by the Japanese technological and telecommunications giant Softbank.

There has been debate over the valuation of the company in recent months. The $20,000 million figure represents 20 times its forecast revenues for 2017. That is much higher than those of its competitors such as Regus. The reason? It is not only a business that is growing quickly (by more than 80% if the forecasts for 2017 are fulfilled, according to CBInsight, with $1,000 million of revenues), but also because of its projection as a expert in how companies work with access to a vast quantity of data, as the magazine Wired pointed out in a recent report.

How does WeWork work?

The company has already created a Spanish company: WeWork Community Workspace SL. It was constituted at the end of June and its administrators include Mike Nolan, the company’s Head of Global Business Planning and Abraham Safdie, Vice-President of the International Business.

Its tax structure is very similar to that of other companies in the sector, such as Uber and Yahoo: the parent company that controls the subsidiary, WeWork Companies International BV, has its centre of operations in the Netherlands, a country with a very favourable tax regime and used by multinationals to reduce their tax bill.

Original story: El Español (by J.M.G)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Spain’s Property Developers Accelerate Their Land Purchases

31 August 2017 – Expansión

Spain’s large real estate companies have launched ambitious investments plans with the aim of starting to build thousands of homes over the next few years, whereby benefitting from the upwards cycle that the housing market is currently enjoying.

The most active players include some of the new property developers led by investment funds such as Neinor Homes, Vía Célere and Aelca. These companies, the first of which is listed on the stock market and the latter two which have plans to make their stock market debuts within the next few months, have accelerated their land purchase plans in recent months, backed financially by their owner-shareholders and loans from the banks.

Such is the case of Neinor Homes. The property developer owned by Lone Star has invested €157.5 million so far in 2017 on the acquisition of various plots of land spread across locations such as Valencia, Málaga and Madrid. These purchases will allow it to build 1,750 homes, in addition to the around 4,000 units that it already has underway.

In the case of Vía Célere, acquired in February by Värde and five other funds, its land purchases so far in 2017 amount to €100 million, which has allowed it to increase its portfolio of land by 212,016 m2 to 2.7 million m2.

Another one of the companies that has invested a lot in land in recent months in Aelca. The company led by Värde and its founding partners, Javier Gómez and José Juan Martín, has spent €170 million so far in 2017 to increase its buildable portfolio by 362,000 m2. Following these purchases, it plans to build around 3,900 homes.

New leader

But the leader of this growth is Metrovacesa. The property developer led by Jorge Pérez de Leza has started a new phase this year, following the transfer of its rental assets to Merlin, with the ultimate aim of recovering its leading position in the sector, this time, focusing on the residential market. To this end, its main shareholders, Banco Santander and BBVA, have transferred it land worth €1,108 million, covering a buildable surface area of 3.1 million m2.

Metrovacesa’s plans for these plots, which have capacity for 24,000 homes, include the sale of some of the asset to competitors, which are eager to expand their portfolios. Currently, the property developer owned by Santander and BBVA is the second largest landowner in the country, with land spanning 6 million m2, exceeded only by Sareb.

Meanwhile, the ACR group (which has invested in some projects together with Allegra, the investment arm of Mario Losantos, the former owner of Riofisa) has purchased land worth €43 million, with a buildable surface area of 88,000 m2, where it plans to build 810 homes. (…).

Amenabar has a similar investment policy. The Basque real estate company, the current leader house building ranking in Spain, with more than 4,000 units underway, has acquired land covering more than 352,000 m2 this year, which will allow it to build another 2,976 homes. (…).

Another of the classic property developers, Quabit, has undertaken 13 operations involving buildable land in just two months, allowing it to incorporate almost 120,000 m2 into its portfolio. (…) The listed company will build 1,097 homes with a forecast revenue of €196 million.

Meanwhile, the Inbisa group has invested more than €80 million in the residential market over the last 18 months and plans to spend another €30 million before the end of the year.

Another fund that has made a significant commitment to the housing market in Spain in ASG. That firm, which also invests in commercial properties, has spent €200 million this year on the acquisition of 16 urban plots of land.

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Axa & Sonae Finalise Purchase Of Área Sur

10 May 2017 – Expansión

Axa Real Estate, the real estate arm of the French insurance company, and Sonae Sierra, are emerging as the likely new owners of the Área Sur shopping centre. The companies are negotiating with Union Investment Real Estate GMBH – the current owner of the asset – to acquire this shopping centre, which is located in Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz).

Market sources have indicated to Expansión that the transaction may be closed soon for a price of around €110 million.

Following the operation, Sonae Sierra – which specialises in the investment, development and management of shopping centres – will manage the shopping centre.

Área Sur was inaugurated in November 2007 and has a gross leasable area of 47,607 m2. Moreover, the shopping centre has around 2,300 parking spaces.

Investment record

The operation, which has been advised by the consultancy firm Cushman & Wakefield, is another example of the interest in the market for shopping centres. Following a record-breaking year in 2016, investments during the first quarter of this year have exceeded €1,000 million, boosted by deals such as Intu’s acquisition of Xanadú for €530 million.

The shopping centre receives 6.6 million visitors per year, which represents an average annual growth rate of 5% since it opened. The shopping centre’s gross revenues amounted to €7.8 million in 2016.

Área Sur is located near to Luz Shopping, which was inaugurated in October 2010 and which has a total surface area of 174,000 m2. That shopping area is home to stores such as Ikea, Decathlon and Worten.

The Área Sur property, which has been managed by Auxideico since 2011, has three storeys. The first floor, which has a surface area of more than 23,400 m2, is home to numerous fashion brands and its tenants include Zara, Primark, H&M, Massimo Dutti, Cortefiel, Sfera, Bershka, Pull & Bear, Springfield, Stradivarius and Okeysi.

The top floor, which spans almost 10,000 m2, houses leisure and restaurant brands, as well as an 11-screen Yelmo cinema. Meanwhile, the ground floor, measuring 14,200 m2, is leased to Mercadona, Primark and El Corte Inglés.

In its area of influence, Área Sur competes with the Las Dunas shopping centre, in Sanlucar de Barrameda, with a gross leasable area of 75,000 m2; El Paseo, located in Puerto de Santa María, with a gross leasable area of 33,000 m2; and Bahía Sur, in San Fernando, with a gross leasable area of 59,000 m2.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Apollo Gets Ready To Buy Property Developers & Hotels In Spain

14 March 2017 – El Confidencial

A new player has emerged in the Spanish real estate market. Apollo, one of the largest fund managers in the word, has decided to join the fray between Värde, Castlelake and Lone Star, and analyse the purchase of its own property developer, according to sources familiar with the entity.

The firm led in Spain by Andrés Rubio is tackling this strategy through its new fund (its third), which already has €2,700 million and which plans to raise up to €4,000 million. This money will be used to acquire real estate assets, NPLs and hotel portfolios in Spain, Italy, UK, Ireland and Germany. Our country could receive around €1,000 million of investment, given that Apollo is expected to continue its commitment to the hotel sector, into which it took a giant leap last December, when it acquired two portfolios from CaixaBank and Popular, and looks set to enter the property development business with a bang.

According to the same sources, one of the companies that is on the fund’s radar is Levitt, which has some of the best plots of land and fame in the sector. Its possible sale has been mooted in the market for a while, given the generational change that the group faces and the appeal of the company, which operates in the high-end segment.

Asentia, Colonial‘s former bad bank is one of the other companies that has been making a name for itself in the market; Acciona Real Estate has also been considering its options, which range from an IPO to the entry of a large fund into its share capital; whilst Procisa, the former property developer behind La Finca, has sold 40% of its offices to Värde and continues to control important developments on plots of land in Madrid (Pozuelo de Alarcón and Brunete), Huelva (Cartaya) and Lleida (Baqueira).

In fact, Apollo was previously involved in negotiations regarding a similar operation to the one that Värde ended up signing with the Cereceda family. But the rapid consolidation that has taken place in the market, with the creation of Aedas by Castlelake, the purchase of Vía Célere by Värde and the imminent debut of Neinor on the stock market, has convinced the fund that a window of opportunity has now opened up in the property development sector.

Apollo plans to invest this new €1,000 million fund over the next three or four years, during which time it wants to become a top-tier player in the property development sector, in line with the moves made by its competitors, and to create its own hotel platform.

In the residential sector, it intends to focus on buildable land, located primarily in Madrid and Barcelona, the two provinces where the incipient recovery is being felt most strongly.

In the tourist segment, in parallel to the strategy to purchase loan portfolios secured by hotel collateral, the fund is actively looking for well-located establishments to create a vacation platform along the coast and on the islands, comprising around 20 assets.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake