29 September 2016 – Expansión
According to the businessman Juan Miguel Villar Mir, the Villar Mir Group has begun negotiations with the Socimi Hispania to join forces for the development of the fifth tower, the new skyscraper in the north of Madrid, next to the Cuatro Torres Business Area complex.
It is one of the most important buildings in the capital in terms of investment, given that the developers will need around €500 million to cover the construction and rental costs – an initial lease has been granted for a period of 75 years.
Sources at the family holding company have confirmed that preliminary conversations have begun, aimed at Hispania’s entry into the project “as a minority shareholder”. Other sources state that the Socimi, managed by the Azora group and in which George Soros holds a stake, may be interested in acquiring 100% of the building, which will be leased in its entirety. Nevertheless, the Villar Mir Group assures that it will maintain the majority stake.
The fifth tower project, which Villar Mir won at the end of 2014 in a tender organised by the Town Hall of Madrid, has already selected its tenants. Earlier this year, the IE Business School agreed to lease 50,000 sqm of the building for its campus. The bottom part of the complex, measuring 12,000 sqm, will house leisure areas, a shopping arcade and a health centre, which will, in theory, be operated by the Quirón Group. The project, promoted by the Villar Mir family, still needs to obtain the definitive permits from the mayoress of Madrid, Manuela Carmena.
In September 2015, the Swiss investment fund Corestate announced that it had agreed to form a joint venture with the Villar Mir Group to jointly develop the fifth tower. Six months later, in March 2016, Juan Miguel Villar Mir qualified that announcement by stating that the agreement with Corestate had not been signed yet. With or without Corestate, the negotiations with Hispania are happening at a time of peak activity for Spain’s listed Socimis. Hispania reached the final round of the tender to acquire the building, after it partnered up with Ferrovial, but Villar Mir won the 75-year lease by offering to pay an annual fee of €4 million, equivalent to twice the bid price. (…).
The search for partners forms part of the strategy being pursued by the Villar Mir’s holding company to finance its multi-million investment commitments through Espacio and OHL, without increasing its debt, which amounts to €14,000 million. The other source of extraordinary income comes from the sale of its assets. (…).
The group needs funds to tackle its three major real estate projects (the fifth tower, the Canalejas Complex and the War Office in London), as well as several toll roads in Latin America.
Original story: Expansión (by C. Morán and R. Ruiz)
Translation: Carmel Drake