Blackstone Formalises its “Hostile” Takeover Bid for Hispania

23 April 2018 – Valencia Plaza

Blackstone has submitted to Spain’s National Securities and Exchange Commission (CNMV) its request for authorisation for the takeover bid that it has launched over the Socimi Hispania, an operation worth €1.905 billion, which would see the US fund become the largest hotel owner in the country. The supervisor must now analyse whether the bid is admissible and, in the event that it deems that it is, assess the documentation for its approval. Only then will the period be opened for acceptance of the deal by the shareholders.

In this way, Blackstone has formalised its takeover bid for the hotel Socimi that it announced on 5 April, after it purchased 16.5% of the share capital from the investor George Soros and whereby became the company’s largest shareholder. The bid is effectively directed at the 83.5% of Hispania’s share capital that the fund does not yet control, by offering €17.45 per share, which brings the operation value to around €1.59 billion.

In the documentation submitted to the supervisor on Monday, Blackstone did not include any bank guarantee to secure that amount, although it did state that it would present such a guarantee within a period of seven working days that it has for that purpose. The consideration being offered by the fund represents a discount of 5.6% with respect to the share price of €18.50 at which Hispania was trading before the operation was announced publicly.

Blackstone is formalising the takeover bid after Hispania announced that it regarded the approach as hostile and that it will look for “alternatives” to the operation that improve the price proposed and, therefore, “maximise” value. The Socimi chaired by Rafael Miranda is pushing ahead with its intention to look for other options to the bid, given that prior to its formulation, and before it announced its intention to liquidate its assets by 2020, the firm had received expressions of interest from around half a dozen overseas investors.

For its part, Blackstone is looking to create a hotel asset ‘giant’, given that this deal would see it become the largest owner of this type of establishment in the country. The fund would add the 46 hotels that comprise the Socimi’s portfolio, most of which are located on the islands and in the main tourist areas of the country, to the fourteen establishments that it purchased last year from one of Banco Sabadell’s companies (HI Partners). Currently, and following the departure of Soros, Hispania’s main reference shareholders are overseas funds, including Fidelity, which owns a 7% stake, Conepa with 6%, and Bank of Montreal and BlackRock, with 3% each.

Original story: Valencia Plaza

Translation: Carmel Drake

NH’s Board Will Assess Potential Merger with Barceló on 20 December

2 December 2017 – Expansión

Advisors / NH Hotel Group and Grupo Barceló have made initial contact through their advisor banks, Merrill Lynch and Banco Santander, respectively.

Progress is being made in what is shaping up to be the mega-operation of the decade in the hotel sector in Spain. The members of the most senior governing body of NH Hotel Group have agreed to meet on 20 December to study a possible merger with the firm’s rival Grupo Barceló.

At the meeting, NH’s Board of Directors will address the proposal made by its rival to integrate the businesses of the two groups and create a “national giant” with more than 600 hotels and 109,000 rooms around the world. This hotel giant would be controlled by Barceló (60% stake), and the current shareholders of NH would hold the remaining 40% share, as Expansión revealed on 20 November.

NH’s directors will consider preliminary reports from Merrill Lynch at this first meeting. The bank has been chosen by the hotel group’s management committee to analyse the operation.

The letter signed by Simón Pedro Barceló, Co-President of Grupo Barceló’s Board of Directors, is dated 14 November, which is when NH’s Board of Directors last met to approve the firm’s quarterly accounts. Nevertheless, the operation in question was not discussed at that meeting.

In his letter, Barceló proposed a period of up to three months to complete the preliminary work and submit a transaction proposal for approval by the governing bodies of both companies. Barceló, which in its offer letter values NH at €2,480 million, has engaged Banco Santander to analyse the operation. The financial advisors of the two companies are now in contact.

Stock price increase

NH’s shares have soared in value by more than 20% since Barceló announced its intention to integrate the two companies.

Barceló’s proposal values each NH share at €7.08, which would represent a premium of 17% over the current list price of €6.03. The endorsement of the market for this operation, as well as the first valuations of the advisor bank, will be one of the matters that the members of the Board will take into account.

NH’s most senior governing body is chaired by Alfredo Fernández Agras, who represents the British fund Oceanwood (which holds a 12% stake in NH). Moreover, its members include Ramón Aragonés –CEO of NH–, José Antonio Castro Sousa and Jordi Ferrer Graupera, both representatives of Hesperia.

The group chaired by Castro – a priori, one of the people who is most opposed to the agreement – announced on Monday that it had early repaid a loan granted by Santander for €122.7 million guaranteed by 31,870,384 NH shares, representing 9.1% of the share capital (its stake in the group).

To repay that loan, which was due to expire on 23 December 2017, the company has signed a new financing agreement with Société Générale for €97.55 million, guaranteed by the same shares, explain financial sources to Expansión.

By contrast, HNA does not have any representatives on the Board of Directors, even though it is the company’s largest shareholder, with a 29.5% stake.

The Chinese conglomerate was expelled in June 2016 due to a conflict of interest after it made an agreement to buy Carlson Rezidor, which competes with the Spanish firm in several European countries.

In its place, Paul Daniel Johnson, Fernando Lacadena Azpeitia, María Grecna and José María Cantero de Montes-Jovellar were appointed, at the request of the funds, to serve as independent directors. José María López-Elola González and José María Sagardoy also feature in that category.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake