WeWork, The Co-Working Giant, Arrives In Spain

13 September 2017 – El Español

The co-working space giant WeWork, which is worth around $22,000 million, has finally arrived in Spain. And it already controls two offices in Barcelona and Madrid. The latter is going to open first, with a hosting service for small companies and independent professionals.

The offices in Madrid are located on Paseo de la Castellana, 43. This 9-storey newly-renovated office building, with a surface area of 6,000 m2, is owned by Colonial and used to house the headquarters of the consultancy firm PwC and also of Abengoa (which moved out in July 2016 to cut costs).

WeWork is not yet offering on its website the space that it has available in Barcelona. According to Ejeprime, it signed an agreement with the Catalan group Castellví in July to occupy a building in the 22@ district, where many of the main technological companies are concentrated.

The strategy that WeWork has adopted for its arrival in Spain is similar to the one that it has implemented in other markets: it does not own any real estate properties outright but rather reaches long-term agreements to lease them. Nevertheless, in May, it signed an alliance with an investment firm with the aim of acquiring real estate assets.

Who is WeWork?

WeWork is a project born in 2010 that offices flexible work spaces for workers. In Madrid, its launch prices start at €250 per month (in the case of individual desks for workers) and range up to €14,500 for private offices with up to 50 desks.

The company, which has a presence in another 17 countries, has raised more than $4,400 million, with investors ranging from fund managers, such as Fidelity and T Rowe Price, to banks such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan.

The most recent capital injection was received in August. In total, $4,400 million was contributed by the Japanese technological and telecommunications giant Softbank.

There has been debate over the valuation of the company in recent months. The $20,000 million figure represents 20 times its forecast revenues for 2017. That is much higher than those of its competitors such as Regus. The reason? It is not only a business that is growing quickly (by more than 80% if the forecasts for 2017 are fulfilled, according to CBInsight, with $1,000 million of revenues), but also because of its projection as a expert in how companies work with access to a vast quantity of data, as the magazine Wired pointed out in a recent report.

How does WeWork work?

The company has already created a Spanish company: WeWork Community Workspace SL. It was constituted at the end of June and its administrators include Mike Nolan, the company’s Head of Global Business Planning and Abraham Safdie, Vice-President of the International Business.

Its tax structure is very similar to that of other companies in the sector, such as Uber and Yahoo: the parent company that controls the subsidiary, WeWork Companies International BV, has its centre of operations in the Netherlands, a country with a very favourable tax regime and used by multinationals to reduce their tax bill.

Original story: El Español (by J.M.G)

Translation: Carmel Drake

NH’s Minority Shareholders May Ask To Join The Board

29 May 2015 – Expansión

29 June / The agenda for NH’s shareholders’ meeting does not currently include the appointment of any new directors. UBS now holds a 4.36% stake.

In the interests of progress in terms of corporate governance and to increase transparency, many listed companies, including the NH Hotel Group, are adapting their corporate bylaws to the new Capital Company Act. Thus, NH will include a item on the agenda of its shareholders’ meeting, which will be held on 29 June, about the reasonable balance of its board of directors, whose composition should reflect the relationship between the stable and free-floating capital.

In fact, the composition of NH’s board of directors has sparked unrest amongst the fund managers and minority shareholders due to the hotel group’s decision to not cover the two vacant positions left by Intesa Sanpaolo, when it sold its shares, by independent directors. Yesterday, their fears were confirmed. The agenda for the shareholders’ meeting includes the ratification of two directors – Francisco Román as an independent director and Ling Zhang as a representative of HNA, the majority shareholder of NH – and the renewal of two other directors – José María López-Elola, as an independent director and José Antonio Castro, as a representative of the Hesperia Group. There was no mention of any new appointments.

NH’s board comprises 11 people in total: four representatives of HNA – which holds a 29.5% stake -, two from Hesperia – with a 9.09% stake -, three independent directors, the CEO – Federico González Tejera – and the Chairman – Rodrigo Echenique-, who continues in the role despite the exit of Banco Santander, the shareholder that he previously represented.

Nevertheless, the composition of the board may change in the short term. The 8.56% stake held by Santander was distributed amongst three (fund) managers, which already held stakes in NH: BlackRock, Oceanwood and Henderson. The first two now hold more than 7.5%. The funds, which have shared their concerns about the reduction in (the size of) the board with NH, will request their own inclusion on the board of directors and their request may be discussed at the shareholders’ meeting. According to the bylaws, shareholders that represent at least 3% of the share capital have five days following the announcement of the shareholders’ meeting to request the inclusion of one or more items on the agenda.

Meanwhile, UBS now owns a 4.36% stake. On 21 May, the Swiss bank purchased 9.13 million shares from Santander for €46.57 million.

The Chairman

Rodrigo Echenique received €300,000 in 2014. This year, he will receive €200,000, i.e. 33% less.

The CEO

Federico González Tejera, the CEO, earned €1.62 million (in 2014), up 34%. His variable salary amounted to €788,000.

The other board members

In addition to Echenique and Tejera, the 16 people that held positions on the board in 2014 received €692,000 in total.

Original story: Expansión (by Yovanna Blanco)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Popular Places A €1,000M Mortgage Bond Issue At 1%

25 March 2015 – Expansión

The entity has completed a 10-year mortgage bond issue amounting to €1,000 million.

The placement carries a coupon of 1%, the lowest historical rate for Popular in the last ten years. The most recent bond issue made by Popular in April 2014 carried a coupon of 2.125% and had a five and a half year term.

Specifically, 78% of the demand for the bond issue has come from international investors. It has managed to attract a lot of investors and achieve an oversubscription of 1.4 x.

In terms of the nationalities of the international investors: 31% were from Germany and 15% were from the UK and Ireland. Demand for the bond issue was highly diversified, comprising 80 orders. By type of investor, 47% were fund managers, 32% were central banks and 19% were banks.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake