Azora Engages UBS to Prepare Its IPO

13 March 2018 – Expansión

Azora wants to take advantage of the investor appetite in the real estate sector and the euphoria on the stock market to make its public debut. The manager, led by Concha Osácar and Fernando Gumuzio, has engaged UBS to prepare its IPO, in an operation that will allow it to raise capital to invest in new assets.

With this move, the company seeks to create a portfolio, primarily, comprising hotels with properties both in Spain, as well as overseas, and to generate returns on the capital invested, taking advantage of opportunities in a bullish market, explain market sources speaking to Expansión.

As a next step, Azora will meet with analysts this week to explain its plans to them. Sources consulted at the manager limited themselves to indicating that the Board of Directors is considering different strategic alternatives, in addition to the creation of new private investment vehicles to accelerate its growth. “In this context, all of the options that would allow us to achieve the company’s objectives are being evaluated. Nevertheless, no specific decisions have been taken yet in this respect”, they add.

Azora has a long track record in the sector and experience in the stock market, given that it manages Hispania, the Socimi in which George Soros holds a stake, which made its stock market debut in March 2014. With more than 200 professionals, it has raised more than €2.2 billion in own funds and has €4.4 billion in assets under management. Specifically, in 2004, it launched its first investment vehicle, Lazora, to invest in homes and student halls in Spain.


The manager used to control, together with Corporación Financiera Alba, the leading operator in the student hall of residence market, Resa, before it sold it in September to a joint venture formed by AXA Investment Managers, CBRE GI and Greystar.

Lazora has become one of the leading specialists in rental housing in Spain with €1.6 billion in assets under management. In the office segment, Azora has invested in buildings in Spain, Poland and the Czech Republic, whilst in hotels, it manages €2.2 billion in assets.

With this move, Azora is set to join other groups that have made their stock market debuts in recent months, such as the property developers Neinor, Aedas and Metrovacesa, as well as those that are planning to do so in the near future, such as the property developer Vía Célere and the financial asset management firm Haya Real Estate.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

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

2015: A Record Breaking Year For RE Investment

3 December 2015 – Expansión

Real estate investment in Spain will close 2015 at record breaking levels. According to the consultancy CBRE, the purchase of hotels such as the Ritz in Madrid, shopping centres such as Plenilunio and offices such as Torre Espacio, as well as operations such as the purchase of Testa, have driven up investment volumes in the sector to reach €12,250 million by 1 December. CBRE expects the sector to close the year with volumes of around €13,000 million, a figure never seen before in the Spanish market.

“2014 was a record year in terms of tertiary investment (non-residential assets). This recovery in the market saw investment volumes of more than €10,000 million, which equalled those seen in 2007 – the previous record-breaking year -. 2015 has not only seen a strengthening of this trend, it has also seen growth of 25%”, said Mikel Marco-Gardoqui, Head of Investment at CBRE España. “Moreover, it is worth noting that asset prices are now 30%-40% lower than they were in 2007”, adds Julián Labarra, Director of the real estate consultancy.

This record level has been boosted by the largest operation ever seen, namely the Socimi Merlin Properties’s purchase of the real estate company Testa for €1,800 million. Testa holds a portfolio of assets – mainly offices – worth more than €3,000 million. Nevertheless, even excluding that transaction, investment is growing at “an exponential rate”, with increases in the purchase of all types of assets. (…).

Offices, which continue to be investors’ preferred asset, have now reached an investment volume of €5,600 million, thanks to purchases such as Torre Espacio, by the Philippine businessman Andrew Tan for €558 million, and Castellana 89, by Corporación Financiera Alba for €144 million.

Currently, these properties in Spain offer investors minimum yields of between 3% and 3.75% in the case of well-located commercial premises and maximum yields of 6.5% in the case of specific logistics assets.


Hotels, in particular, have experienced a significant boost this year. “In 2014, hotel investment volumes amounted to around €1,100 million and so far this year, that figure has already surpassed €1,900 million, which means that we expect to close the year with an investment volume of €2,000 million”, says Marco-Gardoqui.

The boost from investors has not only been felt in the purchase of non-residential assets, interest has also increased in the acquisition of land and property developments for joint promotion with local property developers. (…).

Looking ahead to next year, the experts at the consultancy firm expect that interest from the funds will continue. “We think that investment will amount to around €10,000 million in 2016, because although there will be fewer operations, prices will increase. Many funds are still raising funds, with specific amounts earmarked for Spain”, says Heriberto Terual, Director of Corporate Finance at CBRE.

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Villar Mir Sells Torre Espacio To Grupo Emperador For €558M

30 November 2015 – Expansión

Villar Mir has found a buyer for its Madrilenian skyscraper Torre Espacio. The group led by Juan Miguel Villar Mir has signed an agreement with the Philippine group Emperador for the sale of its 236m-tall office building, located in the Cuatro Torres Business Area in Madrid.

Emperador, the largest spirits company in the Philippines (it holds agreements with the Andalucían group González Byass) will pay €558 million for the property (around €9,200/m2), somewhat below the €600 million sales price that the seller was hoping to secure.

Inaugurated in 2007, Torre Espacio contains 60,000 m2 of office space, spread over 57 floors. It houses the offices of British American Tobacco and Red Bull, as well as the embassies of Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Its occupancy rate is 85%.

The building’s main tenant is the Villar Mir group itself and its subsidiaries, which occupy 55.1% of the property. According to the President, Juan Miguel Villar Mir, the construction company and the other subsidiaries, such as Fertiberia and Ferroatlántica, will continue to have their headquarters in the Madrilenian skyscraper.

In fact, to make the purchase more attractive, the owner of OHL offered to remain as a tenant in order to guarantee rental income of €34/m2/month, according to real estate sources.

Emperador has succeeded in taking ownership of Torre Espacio despite being a very late joiner to the process, which was launched in June, when Villar Mir engaged the consultancy firm Aguirre Newman. In recent few weeks, the best positioned candidate has been the real estate fund Invesco. The real estate company Colonial had also initiated a due diligence process for the building, according to sources close to the operation. Other investors studying the purchase of Torre Espacio included Corporación Financiera Alba – owned by the March family – , the German fund Deka and Pontegadea – the real estate company owned by Amancio Ortega.

The Philippine group Emperador forms part of the Alliance Global business conglomerate led by Andrew L. Tan, who also owns real estate businesses through his company Megaworld. With this purchase, Emperador joins the huge list of investors that have purchased real estate assets in Spain in 2015.

Funding for OHL

With the transfer of Torre Espacio, Villar Mir will generate significant income, having reduced its stake in the listed companies Abertis and Colonial to cover its part of the €1,000 million capital increase in its construction company OHL. Villar Mir invested €400 million in the construction of the building, including the purchase of the land.

However, the businessman is not abandoning his real estate investments at the Cuatro Torres complex; he has been working on the construction of a fifth tower on an adjacent site for several months. (…).

The Villar Mir group is also working on the Canalejas complex, in the centre of Madrid, where it plans to invest €500 million.

Original story: Expansión (by R. Ruiz and C. Morán)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Torre Espacio’s Suitors Must Submit Bids Before 21 Oct

16 October 2015 – Expansión

The group has invited interested investors, insurance companies and funds to submit their bids by next week.

Grupo Villar Mir is pushing ahead with the process to sell its Madrilenian skyscraper Torre Espacio. The company, led by Juan Miguel Villar Mir, put the office building located in the Cuatro Torres complex, on the Paseo de la Castellana in Madrid, up for sale in June this year.

Villar Mir, which owns the property through his subsidiary Espacio, wanted to sell the building before the end of the summer, but decided to delay the sale after failing to receive any convincing offers. Pontegadea, the real estate company owned by Amancio Ortega, and Corporación Financiera Alba, controlled by the March family, expressed their interest in the building, for which Villar Mir is hoping to receive around €600 million.

After failing to receive any firm proposal, Espacio and the property consultant Aguirre Newman, responsible for the sale, decided to invite a wider range of investors to participate in the process.

Interested parties must submit their bids before 21 October, when the owner will begin to analyse the offers. According to real estate sources, there is a lot of interest in the market for the property, for which Villar Mir may receive between €500 million and €600 million. Potential buyers include institutional investment funds, such as Invesco, and insurance companies such as Axa and the March family.

Torre Espacio was inaugurated in 2007 after the Villar Mir group invested €400 million constructing it. The skyscraper contains office space with a surface area of 60,140 m2, 85% of which is occupied by tenants belonging to the Villar Mir group itself; the Dutch, Canadian, Australian and British embassies are also tenants of the property.

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

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

The March Family Enters The Bidding For ‘Torre Espacio’

31 July 2015 – Expansión

Torre Espacio has a new suitor, in the form of the March family, which has formally expressed its interest in acquiring the skyscraper in the Cuatro Torres complex (Madrid) from the current owner, Grupo Villar Mir. The family is up against Amancio Ortega – the owner of Inditex – the German fund Deka and Canada Pension Fund.

Inmobiliairia Espacio, the holding company of Villar Mir, put the property on the market at the end of June and engaged the consultancy firm Aguirre Newman to manage the sale. The company has already received preliminary bids for the property, which it plans to sell for between €650 million and €700 million, whereby taking full advantage of the revival in the real estate sector currently underway in Spain. However, the offers received for Torre Espacio so far range between €500 million and €600 million, albeit above its book value (€440 million). Villar Mir invested €400 million in the construction of the building.

The firm’s intention was to select one or two candidates to participate in exclusive negotiations, with the aim of closing the deal in October.

The March family’s bid for Torre Espacio is indicative of its growing interest in the real estate sector. The family has just acquired Ahorro Corporación’s headquarters on the Paseo de la Castellana (Madrid) for €147 million through its company Corporación Financiera Alba.

Original story: Expansión (by Y.B.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

March Family Buys Ahorro Corporación’s HQ

11 May 2015 – Cinco Días

Corporación Financiera Alba, owned by the March family, announced on Friday that it had acquired the headquarters of Ahorro Corporación in Madrid for €147 million.

The property is located at number 89 on Madrid’s Paseo de la Castellana, just 50m away from the Picasso building. The property measures 20,000 square metres, spread across 12 floors of rented offices, another floor containing retail premises and 530 parking spaces. The building’s current tenants include Sareb, Deloitte and Alain Affelou in the offices and Lateral, Maki and New York Burger in the retail area.

Original story: Cinco Días

Translation: Carmel Drake

The March Family & GreenOak Compete To Buy Ahorro Corp’s HQ

13 April 2015 – Expansión

The financial group has given investors two weeks to submit their final bids. The leading candidates are the March (family), GreenOak, Colonial and Infinorsa.

Ahorro Corporación has prompted a new battle for real estate in the business district of Madrid. And it is proving to be the winner. The financial group is now on the home stretch in the sale of its headquarters, located on Paseo de la Castellana, 89; and the offers received to date have far exceeded the company’s initial expectations. The bids received are approaching €140 million, almost 50% higher than the price offered two years ago (€90 million – €100 million).

Ahorro Corporación and its advisor Aguirre Newman, have now made a shortlist of three candidates to buy the property. According to sources consulted, the investors with the strongest bids are Corporación Financiera Alba, controlled by the March (family), the fund GreenOak, the investor group Infinorsa – which owns Torre Europa – and the real estate company Colonial.

The improved macroeconomic environment (in Spain) and the war waged by these investors to acquire the main properties in Azca, have led to the rise in property prices. The over-supply of funding has also led to greater competition.

The price offered (€140 million) is at the high end of the consideration sought by Ahorro Corporación. Nevertheless, market sources say that the price may decrease slightly – to around €130 million – once the binding offers, which must be submitted in a couple of weeks, have been finalised. Ahorro Corporación has extended the initial deadline due to a request for new information from the interested parties.

100% occupancy rate

The financial group purchased the property from Banco Zaragozano in 2003 for €93.5 million. The building has a surface area of 20,000 square metres, spread over 14 floors and 530 parking spaces. As well as Ahorro Corporación itself, the building’s tenants include Sareb, the French opticians Alain Afflelou and Deloitte. The ground floor of the building is leased to restaurant chains including Lateral, Maki, Wagaboo and New York Burger. The building was constructed in 1977 and refurbished in 2008.

This is not the first battle between real estate investors in recent months. In January, BBVA sold the Torre Ederra, on Paseo de la Castellana, 77 – also in the Azca financial district – for €87 million. On that occasion, the real estate company GMP beat Infinorsa in the final round.

The sale of its headquarters is just another one of a number of divestments undertaken by Ahorro during its redefinition process, which KPMG is advising.

Over the last year, the financial entity has carried out transactions such as the sale of its fund manager, ACGestión to Abanca; the transfer of its infrastructure funds to GEDCapital; and the sale of its securisation manager, Ahorro y Titulización (AyT) to Haya Real Estate, owned by Cerberus.

The group is continuing to focus on its strategic businesses, namely fixed income and equity brokerage and advisory services.

Ahorro is focused on the international diversification of its business in the face of the disappearance or absorption of its former shareholders and clients – the savings banks – by other financial groups.

This group will have to face the remodelling of its shareholder base in the short-medium term, given that some of its shareholders, such as Bankia, will be forced to exit. Other shareholders that holds stakes in the group include: Cecabank, CaixaBank, Kutxabank, Liberbank, BMN, Ibercaja, Unicaja, Abanca, BBVA, Sabadell, Ontinyent and Pollença.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake