21 July 2018 – El Economista
A new merger operation is on the horizon in the real estate sector, and it is going to star Vía Célere and Aelca. According to confirmation from several sources in the sector speaking to this newspaper, the two entities’ common shareholder, the fund Värde, is working in an active way to integrate the two companies with the aim of strengthening the structure of Vía Célere ahead of its upcoming stock market debut.
The fund and its partners in the real estate company (Marathon, Attestor, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan and Barclays) are currently holding conversations with the founders of Aelca to carry out an operation in which the assets of the property developer would be integrated into Vía Célere’s portfolio. According to the same sources, Värde, which owns around 80% of each real estate company, wants to close a preliminary agreement within the next two weeks, although the operation may not actually be executed until October and November.
The objective of the fund is to close the integration before the end of the year, in such a way that the company will be ready to carry out its debut on the stock market when the next sales opportunity presents itself. Following the debuts of Neinor, Aedas and Metrovacesa, the market has almost exhausted its appetite for the real estate sector, plus there has been some high volatility on the stock market due to political instability.
These circumstances have meant that the fund has not been able to liquidate its investment in Vía Célere so far this year, as it had planned, although, sources at the company say that no specific date had ever been set for the IPO. In the case of Aelca, its founders and shareholders, Javier Gómez and José Juan Martín, have been aiming (to list their firm) in 2019, a step that may now be taken under the umbrella of the Vía Célere brand.
With this move, once listed on the stock market, the firm launched and presided by Juan Antonio Gómez Pintado will be positioned as the property developer with the largest market capitalisation, amounting to €2.3 billion. Similarly, according to the same sources, the target for the delivery of homes by the new company would increase to around 5,000 units per year, thus reaching the figures planned by its competitor Metrovacesa, which also forecasts such volumes for 2021.
Before designing the integration process for the two property developers, Värde has also studied the possible merger of Vía Célere with one of the other large listed companies, although, that formula was giving rise to a giant with a volume of business that was not seen in the property development sector even in the boom years.
With the merger of the two property companies now on the cards, the new Vía Célere will have a land bank with capacity for the development of around 23,000 homes. To this figure, the plots that Sareb will inject into Aelca will have to be added, with an approximate value of €800 million, in the event that the property developer ends up reaching an agreement with the bad bank.
The American fund reached an agreement with the Avintia group in the summer of 2016 to acquire Aelca for around €50 million. Almost simultaneously, Värde launched Dospuntos from the leftovers of the former Parquesol, the real estate subsidiary of the Sanjose Group.
Six months later, it closed the purchase of the property developer led by Gómez Pintado for around €90 million to integrate it with Dospuntos and create a new giant in the sector, retaining the Vía Célere brand, which has become the fund’s new darling.
Created shortly before the real estate bubble burst, the real estate company is one of the few that managed to survive the crisis and if Värde’s plans do crystallise, it could position itself as the largest listed property developer in the country.
Original story: El Economista (by Alba Brualla)
Translation: Carmel Drake