20 July 2016 – Expansión
The Baraka group, controlled by the businessman Trinitario Casanova, has reached an agreement with the Chinese group Dalian Wanda to acquire Edificio España in Madrid, according to reports by the El Mundo newspaper.
The holding company is finalising the details of the operation, which is expected to be completed after the summer. Casanova’s offer, which is understood to amount to around €265 million, reportedly exceeded the bids made by the other interested parties, including the Chinese firm Fosun, Hemisferio and Platinum Estates.
According to reports, Baraka is undertaking a significant expansion program. It recently acquired a plot of land measuring more than 10 million sqm in Valdebebas (Madrid) for around €75 million.
The “for sale” sign went up over the iconic Edificio España building in January, when Wanda engaged the real estate consultancy JLL, which has not confirmed the operation, to find a buyer.
The Chinese group, controlled by Wang Jianlin, the richest man in China, opened the door to the possible sale of the building after discrepancies arose with the Town Hall of Madrid regarding the renovation of the building. Wanda’s plans, which included the construction of a luxury hotel, a shopping centre and homes, clashed with the demands of the Town Hall, which insisted on the conservation of the front and side façades of the building, as established by the law governing the protection of historical buildings. In any case, Wanda has maintained contact with Madrid’s Town Planning team, in parallel with the sales process, and last met with them on 14 June.
The Chinese group paid Banco Santander €265 million in June 2014 for the building. Now, it is on the verge of selling it for a similar amount.
Wanda’s future divestment of Edificio España comes shortly after the Asian holding company announced its purchase of the UCI Odeon group – which owns the largest cinema chain in Spain.
After several years trying to sell the British Odeon cinema chain to AMC Theatres, Wanda’s subsidiary in the USA, the private equity firm Terra Firma announced the deal on 12 July. The price of that transaction amounts to GBP 921 million (around €1,100 million), of which GBP 407 million relates to the debt held by UCI Odeon, which the buyer will take on.
One of UCI Odeon’s main assets, to be taken over by Dalian Wanda, is the chain Cinesa, which is the largest film company in Spain with 535 screens across the country. In total, the chain owns 2,236 screens in 242 cinemas in Spain, the UK, Italy, Austria, Portugal and Germany. (…).
Original story: Expansión
Translation: Carmel Drake