2018: The Year that Blackstone was Crowned the King of the Spanish Real Estate Sector

17 December 2018 – Eje Prime

Blackstone wants it all and it wants it now. That is the sensation that the US investment fund, the new king of the Spanish real estate market, is transmitting throughout the real estate sector. Its portfolio is worth more than €20 billion after an accelerated period of purchases during 2018.

One of the objectives of the US fund manager has been, precisely, to expand its network in the Spanish real estate sector by entering markets such as the logistics segment. At the beginning of December, the company closed its latest operation in the country with the purchase of a logistics portfolio from Neinver for €300 million.

Nevertheless, the deal involving the giant Neinver is by no means the most significant operation that Blackstone has undertaken this year. Over the last twelve months, the group has taken control of Hispania, to grow in the hotel sector; it has acquired 80% of Testa, to manage thousands of rental homes, and in the logistics sector, it has accumulated 1 million m2 of space with the 55 assets from Neinver and the purchase of an industrial portfolio from Lar España.

Blackstone has disbursed almost €4 billion in the Spanish real estate sector this year, a figure that far exceeds the €127.5 million that it spent on its first investment in the domestic market in 2013. Moreover, that debut was not free from controversy, given that the group purchased 18 residential developments, containing 1,860 social housing units, which the Town Hall of Madrid sold the fund through the Municipal Housing and Land Company of Madrid (Emvsa).

Five years later, Blackstone is one of the largest owners of residential assets in Spain and the leader of the hotel sector. It leapt to first position in the hotel market ranking this year following its successful takeover of the Socimi Hispania. The company paid €1.99 billion for that vehicle, managed by Azora. With that operation, the fund added 46 assets and almost 13,150 rooms in Spain to a portfolio that it started to grow in 2017 with the purchase of HI Partners, the hotel arm of Banco Sabadell, for €630 million. In total, the manager owns 63 assets and almost 18,000 hotel rooms across Spain.

Hispania also provided Blackstone with residential assets worth €230 million, as well as 25 office buildings whose market value exceeds €600 million. Also in that segment, the company added the iconic Planeta office building in Barcelona to its portfolio during 2018, which it purchased from the Lara family in July for €210 million.

Spain, 20% of its global portfolio

Today, Spain accounts for 20% of Blackstone’s global investment. In total, the US firm owns property worth almost USD 120,000 million (€105,387 million) around the world. This real estate giant has become the largest unlisted real estate company in Spain (…).

The superiority of Blackstone’s portfolio in Spain with respect to those of the large domestic real estate firms is clear. The two largest players, Merlin and Colonial, are ranked within the top 15 Socimis in Europe and, yet, their portfolios are worth just half of that of the fund, at €11.785 billion and €11.19 billion, respectively.

Santander’s best friend

As well as mixing with other real estate players, Blackstone has made friends with some of the Spanish financial institutions. The banks, big losers in the previous real estate cycle, have worked hard over the last two years to place their property with the highest bidder, taking advantage of the new boom in the residential market.

In this way, in 2017, Banco Santander agreed with Blackstone the largest operation involving the sale of toxic assets from the real estate sector in the country. The fund manager purchased 51% of Popular’s property, a portfolio with €30,000 million in assets.

The relationship with the bank owned by the Botín family has been strengthened in 2018 with Project Quasar, the real estate firm created by the financial institution and the fund. The joint venture received a capital injection amounting to €300 million in May. Through this vehicle, the transfer of Popular’s assets is being carried out.

In order to place this property into circulation, as part of the operation in 2017, Blackstone also acquired the bank’s servicer, Aliseda, led by Eduard Mendiluce (…), who also manages the Socimi Albirana.

Albirana Properties is one of four residential Socimis that Blackstone currently has listed on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB). The others are Fidere Patrimonio, Corona Patrimonial and Torbel Investments.

Original story: Eje Prime (by Jabier Izquierdo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Blackstone’s Socimi Torbel Debuts on the MAB at €11.45/Share

5 July 2018 – Voz Pópuli

Torbel Investments, the new Socimi owned by the US fund Blackstone, is going to make its debut on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB) this Thursday at a price of €11.45 per share, giving the company a market value of €92.2 million.

Torbel, the second Socimi that is going to be managed by Anticipa Real Estate, owns a portfolio of 2,495 assets – 2,165 of the properties are flats and family homes, and the remainder are commercial premises, parking spaces and storerooms -, which have a combined market value of €218 million.

These assets are distributed throughout Spain, with the Community of Valencia accounting for the largest share – it is home to 36.5% of the total between the provinces of Valencia and Alicante -, followed by Cataluña, with 17.8% of the total, and Madrid with 15.9%. The remaining 30% are located in Andalucía and Castilla-La Mancha.

All of these assets, whose overall occupancy rate amounts to around 58% (tenants are being sought for the remaining 42%), proceed from the Empire portfolio that Blackstone purchased from Banco Sabadell between 2016 and 2017; they are managed by the US fund’s subsidiary Anticipa.

Anticipa Real Estate was constituted in 2014 after passing into the hands of Blackstone and has been an evolving entity ever since. It has gone from being a servicer that managed assets for third parties to being a management platform of real estate assets and mortgage loans, all with the aim of becoming the leading residential rental manager in Spain.

Torbel is the fourth residential Socimi that Blackstone has debuted on the stock market in Spain following Fidere Patrimonio, Corona Patrimonial and Albirana Properties.

Original story: Voz Pópuli 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Madrid’s Town Hall Wants To “Completely Nullify” EMVS’s Sale To Blackstone

15 September 2016 – Inmodiario

The Town Hall of Madrid will ask the Community of Madrid’s Legal Advisory Committee to complete nullify the sales process signed between the EMVS (la “Empresa Municipal de la Vivienda y Suelo de Madrid” or the “Municipal Company for Housing and Land in Madrid”) and the fund Fidere Patriomonio, a subsidiary of Blackstone in 2013. The deal involved the sale of 1,860 social housing properties in 18 residential developments, for use as rental properties but with the option to buy.

That is according to the acting mayoress, Marta Higueras (pictured above, right), who has confirmed all of the measures that the Town Hall will take after receiving the findings of a legal report prepared by the law firm Alemany, Escalona & De Fuentes. That firm has studied all of the documentation and has reportedly found evidence of crimes. As such, it has also analysed all of the processes that may be launched to try and reverse the decision.

This request will be based on the conclusions of the “Audit Report of Sales Operations involving Real Estate Assets by the Empresa Municipal de la Vivienda y Suelo de Madrid, S.A. (EMVS) and controls performed by the competent bodies in 2012 and 2013” from the Chamber of Accounts, which was published in June this year.

This report concludes that the sale was performed “without preparing a sales document or conducting a study. Furthermore, the necessary technical feasibility and legal reports about the operation were not commissioned and the price of the assets to be sold was not set prior to their publication”. That meant that Fidere set the sales price and its price was accepted by the EMVS.

According to the Chamber of Accounts, the sale was completed at a price of €128,500,000, “below the book value of those properties, which amounted to €159,375,023.53”. Moreover, the regulations governing Adjudications of social housing properties by the EMVS were not applied, even though they had been approved by the Town Hall in 2008 and modified on 30 October 2012. Instead, the sale was governed by Article 18 of the Community of Madrid’s Rules govenring Publically Protected Housing.

The report makes it clear that the management and administration of the properties did not reflect the interests of the municipal company, “due to the possible weakening that this sales policy could have had on EMVS’ assets and therefore the Town Hall of Madrid, from whose benefit and corporate interests the EMVS strayed when selling these homes to the legal entities”.

In the event that the Community of Madrid’s Legal Advisory Committee declares the deal “completely null and void”, it would affect the preparation of the sale of the homes and the adjudication of them. In that case, the Town Hall will initiate a legal process for the courts to declare the sales contract and resolution null and void. (…).

Original story: Inmodiario

Translation: Carmel Drake

Blackstone To List Its Socimi ‘Fidere Patrimonio’ On MAB

25 June 2015 – El Mundo

Blackstone is going to list Fidere Patrimonio on the Alternative Investment Market (‘Mercado Alternativo Bursátil’ or MAB). The Socimi was constituted with a stock of social housing purchased by  the private equity firm in Madrid in recent years. The shares in the new Socimi will start trading on Monday 29 June, at €21.08 per share. This price represents a company valuation of €212 million.

Blackstone created Fidere Patrimonio with a portfolio of 23 social housing developments (rental properties), containing 2,688 apartments, which the fund has bought over the last few years, mainly in the Community of Madrid. (…).

With this IPO on the MAB, Blackstone seeks not only to comply with the rules governing Socimis, but also to acquire a financing mechanism for raising funds, which will to drive the future growth of the company, and will also “raise the company’s profile and attract new shareholders”.

In this sense, Fidere Patrimonio says that it will focus its investment policy on new companies with real estate portfolios owned by Blackstone’s investment funds and on “analysing new investment opportunities that arise in the market”.

‘Solvent’ tenants

However, the Socimi has said that, for the time being, it will focus on managing its current portfolio of homes “with the aim of increasing shareholders’ returns”. To this end, it has revealed that its leasing policy for social housing is based on “selecting tenants who are economically solvent and who have long-term visibility over their income”, in order to increase the occupancy rate of its homes.

Specifically, the company asks its tenants to provide their last two payslips and then checks that the percentage rental spend will not exceed 40% of their (respective) salary; it also performs checks to confirm that prospective tenants are not registered on Asnef’s credit black list. (…).

Blackstone’s Socimi is aiming to secure an occupancy rate of between 80% and 95% for its housing stock, compared with its current rate of 76% and the 2014 year-end rate of 68%.

Profits and dividends

Meanwhile, Fidere Patrimonio closed 2014 with a net profit of €1.6 million, whereby overcoming the “losses” that it had recorded in the previous year. The Socimi’s turnover amounted to €5.54 million, of which €4.6 million was generated by the social housing in Madrid that the fund purchased from the EMV.

In terms of financing, the firm has financial net debt of around €65.7 million, equivalent to 22% of the market value of its assets. The company considers that this “reduced” leverage will encourage the payment of dividends.

Original story: El Mundo

Translation: Carmel Drake