30 January 2018 – Expansión
With 2.5 million m2 of land and the US investment fund Bain Capital Credit as its largest shareholder, the historical real estate company is working to regain its position as one of the largest property developers in the country.
This firm – the subsidiary of a fund created in Boston by the former Republican White House candidate Mitt Romney amongst others – completed the purchase of Habitat on 22 December after fighting off competition from other investment firms such as Oaktree and Apollo.
The arrival of the new shareholder gave oxygen to one of the historical real estate companies in the sector. Created by the Catalan businessman Josep Maria Figueras and Josep Ildefons, the company purchased the real estate arm of Ferrovial in 2006 for €2 billion. Two years later, it filed for creditor bankruptcy with a debt amounting to more than €2.8 billion.
With a proposal to pay up to 80% of the amount owed, the property developer emerged from insolvency in April 2010. Nevertheless, the economic crisis was still raging in Spain, and that caused the Figueras family, led by the son of the founder, Bruno, to lose control of Habitat to funds such as Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Capstone, amongst others. And it was they who hung the ‘for sale’ sign up over the company last summer (…).
Habitat owns a land portfolio spanning 2.5 million m2, which makes it the second largest owner of this precious asset in the country, behind only Metrovacesa (which owns 6 million m2) and ahead of companies such as Neinor, Aedas and Vía Célere. Its portfolio is split almost equally between developable land and plots that require management, say sources at the company.
To this portfolio, new acquisitions that Habitat is currently evaluating will soon be added, either through purchases from third parties or incorporations of foreclosed assets and loans from Bain’s portfolio. Habitat’s objective is to look for opportunities in the major markets where it is already present, namely: Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla.
Managing the land portfolio is not the firm’s only task for 2018. This year, the company also plans to deliver the first of more than 1,000 homes that it currently has up for sale. Of those 1,000 homes, more than 700 are currently under construction and of those, more than 80% have already been sold.
Thanks to these deliveries – the first 60 units in Alcobendas (Madrid) will be handed over during the first quarter of the year – the company expects to increase its revenue so that the figure for 2017 will be similar to that recorded in 2016 (€44.5 million).
For this new period, Bain Capital will keep in place the management team that joined the company last year. In this way, the most senior executive will be Eduardo Carreño, the Director General of Habitat, who has been managing the executive functions of the real estate company since the departure of Bruno Figueras in June 2016.
In January, the company moved its headquarters to Madrid, although it will continue to hold onto its offices in Barcelona as a regional delegation.
Amongst the alternatives that Bain is considering for its future divestment of Habitat include its placement on the stock market, as Lone Star did with Neinor Homes, or a merger with another group.
Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)
Translation: Carmel Drake