2 January 2018 – El Confidencial
The French group GL Events (which manages more than 40 centres around the world specialising in business events, fairs and conferences) and Feria de Madrid (Ifema) are bidding hard to resurrect the abandoned ‘Palacio de Exposiciones y Congresos’ in Madrid, located at number 99 Paseo de la Castellana, right opposite the Santiago Bernabeú stadium. In July, the French group notified Turespaña (which forms part of the Ministry of Energy, Tourism and the Digital Agenda) that it was willing to invest €40 million in a first phase to restore the property and make it viable in exchange for a 30-year concession.
GL Events has already met with experts from the Secretary of State for Tourism’s team and its Chairman is expected to travel from France to Madrid over the next few weeks to meet with the Secretary of State herself, Matilde Pastora Asían González. Nevertheless, sources close to El Confidencial have reported that Ifema (a consortium between the Town Hall of Madrid, the Community of Madrid, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Fundación Obra Social y Monte Piedad de Madrid) have taken the lead in this race and have already signed a pre-agreement with the Ministry of Tourism to invest more than the French firm has offered in exchange for managing the property for 50 years.
Madrid Foro Empresarial, which has been asking the public administrations to bring the complex back to life for some time now, given that the capital “needs more spaces to promote new fairs and conferences”, is now asking Turespaña “to convene an international public tender to allow the property to be managed by the best conference operator possible (…)”.
If Ifema does end up taking over the management of the property on Paseo de la Castellana, then it would have a monopoly on the Community of Madrid’s event, fair and conference spaces. Besides the exhibition halls that it already manages in Campo de las Naciones, Ifema has also signed another agreement with the capital’s Town Hall to operate the Palacio Municipal de Congresos, located right next to Ifema’s facilities, for 25 years (…).
In this way, Ifema would control all of the larges spaces in the capital: the exhibition halls, the municipal hall (‘el Palacio Municipal’) and the conference hall (‘el Palacio de Congresos’) on the Castellana. But as Marc Rodríguez, Director General of GL Events in Spain, (…) explained, his firm is still planning to present its proposal to operate the Madrilenian hall if a public tender is organised in the end. “We are a solvent financial operator with experience in the sector. Our construction project would last for 18 months and our initial investment would be €40 million”. The French group recorded revenues of €953 million in 2016 and employs almost 4,000 people. It also manages the Centro de Convencions Internacional de Barcelona (CCIB), whose concession period ends in November 2021 (…).
Original story: El Confidencial (by David Fernández)
Translation: Carmel Drake