Popular Values The Complex That Was Going To House Its New HQ At €400M

17 October 2017 – Expansión

Popular has increased the book value of the real estate complex that was going to house its future headquarters to almost €400 million. The complex, which is still under construction, is being built on two plots that Popular purchased from Vocento in 2008. The plots span a surface area of more than 100,000m2, alongside the A2 motorway in Madrid. The market valuation of the headquarters could amount to €200 million, according to calculations by real estate experts.

The property is one of the unique assets inherited by Santander following its purchase of Popular. For the time being, the group will retain control of the headquarters, given that it has not been included in the batch of assets that Santander is going to transfer to the company that it is going to constitute together with Blackstone. That new company, in which the US firm is going to hold a 51% stake and Santander a 49% stake, will manage the damaged portfolio inherited from Popular. The company will be born with assets on its balance sheet with a gross value of €30,000 million.

Two buildings

The corporate complex of the former Banco Popular comprises two independent buildings, located on both sides of the A2. One of them, on Calle Abelias, is already finished. The second, on Calle Juan Ignacio Luca de Tena, is still under construction. The initial forecast was that the building work would be completed this autumn.

The book value of the property on Calle Abelias amounts to €132 million, according to the most recently published figures, which relate to December 2016. Of that total value, €44 million relates to the cost of the land and €93 million to the investment in the construction of the building. The sum of those two figures equals €137 million, from which €5 million has already been deducted for cumulative depreciation, to arrive at the aforementioned figure of €132 million.

In terms of the building on Calle Luca de Tena, the cost of the land amounts to €112 million. Meanwhile, the value of the construction in progress amounts to €149 million at year-end, up by €74 million compared to 2015. The sum of the two figures gives a global value of €261 million.

The property that has already been finished, on Calle Abelias, was inaugurated in January 2013 and houses Popular’s technological headquarters. The IT migration is one of the most sensitive elements of the merger currently underway between Santander and Popular (…).

Four headquarters

Following the purchase of Popular, Santander now has four large corporate centres in Madrid. On the one hand, it has the Ciudad Financiera, its central headquarters, located in the Madrilenian town of Boadilla del Monte. That building was inaugurated in 2004, has a surface area of 250 hectares and comprises nine office buildings (….). Santander also owns Banesto’s former corporate complex, located on Calle Mesena in Madrid, which is home to the Santander España division. Meanwhile, the group owns the historical headquarters of the now extinct entity Banif, specifically, the small palace located on Castellana 24, which has housed the central services of Openbank, the group’s digital bank since this summer.

Original story: Expansión (by M. Martínez)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Housing: Price Decreases Slow As Sales Increase

17 April 2015 – Cinco Días

The most prestigious research studies in the country continue to improve their forecasts for expected growth in Spain this year and next; and one of the (key) factors influencing this increase in optimism is, without doubt, the performance of the housing sector. This week was the turn of BBVA Research, whose report not only predicted that the rise in GDP this year could exceed 2.7%, it also forecast “an improvement in the basis for housing investment, which continues to reinforce a change in the cycle, both in terms of supply and demand”.

Moreover, the study concludes that residential investment has increased once again during the first quarter of this year, although these increases have been “moderate and starting from historically low levels”.

The General Council of Notaries and Tinsa also published their own statistics this week. The notaries recorded a total of 26,562 house sales during the month of February, representing a slight decrease of 1.9% compared with the same month last year, although that increases to 2.6% for the seasonality-adjusted figures. Despite reductions in January and February, the notaries argue that the trend over the last few months continues to reflect the stabilisation of sales.

“This decrease may be explained by the end of the base effect following the normalisation of the figures after tax breaks for housing were phased out”, says the report. Also, if we analyse the volume of transactions by type of property, we can see that sales of newly built homes dropped significantly, by 34.4%, whereas sales of used homes (which account for more than 70% of all transactions) increased at a rate of 3.4% p.a.

More mortgages

In terms of prices, INE’s recently published statistics showed that behaviour varies substantially between new and used housing. The average price of house sales in February amounted to €1,192 per square metre, representing a decrease of 3.1% compared with the same month last year. However, whilst the price of second-hand homes barely changed during that period, falling by just 0.1%, the price of new builds experienced an average decrease of 5.8%, compared with twelve months earlier.

Moreover, the notaries calculate that house prices in Spain have decreased by 36.8%, on average, since the start of the crisis, back in 2007.

This figure does not agree exactly with the calculations performed by one of the largest property surveyors in the market, Tinsa, but it is very similar.

According to data published this week by Tinsa (see graph above), which is based on valuations obtained from its network of more than 1,200 surveyors across the country, average house prices experienced a year-on-year decrease of 2.8% in March, compared with a 3.6% drop in the previous month. According to Tinsa’s data, house prices have experienced a cumulative decrease of 41.4% from the peak figures recorded in December 2007.

Overall, the statistics show that the cumulative depreciation in house prices (since 2007) amounts to around 40%, although in areas such as the Mediterranean Coast, the aggregate adjustment amounts to 48.7%.

This fact, which means that in some regions houses today are worth half their pre-crisis values, is what continues to explain that many of the transactions recorded each month are completed without mortgages.

Specifically, in February, only 42.3% of house purchases were financed using a mortgage, which means that more than half were either paid for in cash or were financed using another type of loan that did not require a mortgage guarantee.

The notaries’ statistics also provide information about the average mortgage amount for the purchase of a home, which stood at 75.6% in February. And since more houses are being sold, it is logical to say that the granting of loans for the construction of new developments is also recovering, albeit slowly; the number of loans granted increased by 45.8% in February to take the total number of financed transactions to 335.

Original story: Cinco Días (by Raquel Díaz Guijarro)

Translation: Carmel Drake