4 September 2017 – Expansión
An attractive tax structure and investors’ appetite for real estate assets have led to a veritable flood of Socimi debuts on the stock market in recent years. With the exception of Merlin and Colonial – which form part of the Ibex – and Axiare, Hispania and Lar España – which are listed on the main stock market – the other Socimis trade on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB). In 2013, that market opened a new segment for this type of investment vehicle, which now comprises 40 companies.
To be incorporated, Socimis must have a minimum share capital of €5 million and invest in urban properties allocated for rent. These companies, which must be listed on regulated markets, are exempt from paying Corporation Tax in exchange for fulfilling certain obligations such as the distribution of dividends in a systematic way.
The first Socimi to debut on the MAB was Entrecampos Cuatro. That company, constituted in 2004 as a merger of several companies from the Segura Rodríguez family group, was responsible for firing the Socimi-starting gun on the MAB in November 2013.
The 40 Socimis now listed on the MAB have a combined market capitalisation of more than €7,000 million and comprise a very heterogeneous group both in terms of size, as well as by specialisation and category. The companies range from family groups to institutions (with one fund or professional investor holding a stake) to publicly owned entities (with numerous shareholders).
Of the Socimis currently listed on the MAB, the largest by a long way is General de Galerías Comerciales (GGC). That Socimi, which currently has a market capitalisation of €2,547 million, debuted on the stock market in July and, despite its size, is controlled almost in its entirety by a single shareholder, the Murcian businessman Tomás Olivo. GGC is exceeded in terms of market capitalisation only by Merlin and Colonial.
GGC is followed by the Montoro family’s real estate firm GMP, in which the fund Singapore GIC owns a 30% stake. That company currently holds 27 properties in its portfolio, including several iconic buildings, such as the historical Torre BBVA (renamed Castellana 81 due to its location) and a few metres away, Castellana 77 (also known as Torre Ederra). Other large listed Socimis include Zambal, the Socimi managed by IBA Capital, with investments in offices and commercial assets; and Bay, the Socimi owned by Hispania and Barceló. The latter, which focuses on the tourist sector, held 21 assets with a gross value of €790 million at the end of last year and since then has purchased another three assets: Hotel Selomar in Benidorm for almost €16 million; Hotel Fergus Tobago in Palmanova for €20 million; and the Armadores de Puerto Rico company for €6 million.
Shopping centres are also present on the MAB. In this way, for example, Intu owns two listed shopping centres: the Socimi Asturias Retail & Leisure, owner of the Intu Asturias shopping centre (previously Parque Principado), which has a total approximate surface area of 75,000 m2; and Zaragoza Properties, owner of Puerto Venecia Shopping Resort, in Zaragoza, with a surface area of more than 200,000 m2.
Another example is the Socimi Heref Habaneras, which owns the Habaneras shopping centre in Torrevieja (Alicante).
One of the investment segments that has gained weight amongst the specialist Socimis in recent times is the residential market. Specifically, the private equity fund Blackstone has two listed Socimis. The largest, Fidere, debuted on the stock market in June 2015 with an asset value of €304.3 million and a portfolio of 2,688 social housing properties for let purchased during the crisis.
Moreover, the fund listed another Socimi on the stock market in March, Albirana Properties, which owns more than 5,000 assets spread all over Spain, most of which are rental homes (….).
A few weeks ago, the MAB introduced a modification to its rules to tighten up the access requirements for new Socimis. This change, which came into force in August, requires Socimis to have minority shareholders in their shareholdings when they debut on the stock market. Until then, companies had a year to fulfil the requirement. This led to an intensification in terms of the number of Socimi debuts. In July alone, seven companies joined the MAB: GGC, Bay Hotels & Leisure, Grupo Ortiz, Kingbook Inversiones, AM Locales Property, Colon and Numulae (…).
Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)
Translation: Carmel Drake