Iberia’s Former HQ in Barcelona is Being Converted into Luxury Apartments Costing c. €15,000/m2

4 April 2019 – El Confidencial

The fund Twin Peaks Capital is on a mission to convert Iberia’s former offices in Barcelona into 21 super luxury homes. The prices of the new properties at number 30 Paseo de Gracia are expected to go on the market for between €11,000/m2 and €15,000/m2. The penthouse might even fetch €19,000/m2, breaking all previous records in the Catalan capital and even higher than the most expensive prices in Madrid.

Twin Peaks Capital purchased the neoclassic style building from the former Agrupació Mútua in 2017 for €25 million. The property spans a surface area of almost 4,000 m2 distributed over five storeys, plus an attic, and the future homes will measure between 80 m2 and 270 m2, with first-rate finishes, plus common areas with terraces and a stunning swimming pool on the roof.

The properties will be marketed by BNP Paribas Real Estate and 25% of the development has already been sold, mostly to Catalan buyers and investors. The homes are expected to be ready during the second quarter of 2020.

Original story: El Confidencial (by E. Sanz)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Town Hall of Madrid Approves Construction of 400 Homes on Land near Barajas

3 May 2018 – Eje Prime

The Town Hall of Madrid is promoting housing in the city. On Thursday, the Town Hall approved plans that will result in the construction of 400 homes, green spaces and other facilities on land owned by Iberia. The plots span a surface area of 54,600 m2 and are located in the district of Barajas, to the south of the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport; they are currently home to some warehouses, owned by the airline.

This land is going to be urbanised by Iberia so that it can be used for the construction of around 400 new homes, green spaces, other tertiary-use buildings and a private facility. The budget for the urbanisation work amounts to €5.1 million and the execution period is nine months.

Specifically, the plans involve eight plots spanning 54,600 m2, of which 23,507 m2 are destined for residential, tertiary and private facility use, whilst 31,093 m2 are earmarked for public use, including for green spaces, road networks, parking and facilities.

The Town Hall approved this project after the Ministry of Development announced an urban development macro-plan on some of Aena’s plots close to the airport, where hotels, logistics centres and offices are going to be built.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Hotelier Catalonia Leads Ranking of Spain’s Top 15 Tourism Companies by Gross Margin

24 November 2017 – Preferente

Catalonia, the hotel chain based in Barcelona and owned by the Vallet family, leads the first ranking compiled by preferente.com of the Top 15 Spanish tourism companies by gross margin in 2016, with a 30.2% gross profit on its sales. It is followed by large hotel chains such as the Ibiza-based Palladium, and the Mallorcan-based Grupo Piñero and Riu, which all generated gross margins of more than 20% during the last financial year.

The chain owned by the Matutes family is the second in the ranking after obtaining an estimated gross margin of 28.6% on its sales in 2016; it is followed by the group owned by the Piñero family, which includes the Bahía Príncipe and Soltour businesses, with a gross margin of 24.2%; and the chain owned by the Riu family, with a gross margin of 23.8% and the leader of the ranking by EBITDA.

Completing the Top 5 is another large chain and another Catalan firm: H10, which recorded a gross profit on its sales of 19.8% in 2016, followed by Grupo Barceló, with a gross margin of 14.2%, which would have been greater if it did not include in its sales the intermediation activity of Ávoris, which generates higher volumes but lower margins.

After Group Barceló in the ranking comes Grupo Iberostar, which comprises Almundo and World2Meet; and then the hotel groups NH and Meliá, which all exceeded or equalled a gross profit of 10% of sales in 2016. After those companies come the Canarian firm Lopesan and the Catalan firm Hotusa, which groups together Keytel and Restel, with similar gross margins of around 9% over sales.

A vertically integrated tourism group: an airline, a travel agency and a bed bank follow them in the ranking. At number 12 is Globalia, the parent company of Air Europa and Halcón Viajes, with a gross margin of 3.8% of sales, followed very closely by Iberia (3.7%) and Viajes El Corte Inglés (2.4%). The B2B firm Hotelbeds appears in fifteenth place with an estimated gross margin of 2% in 2016, a year when it had not yet completed the purchase of Tourico and GTA, the first of which generates significant EBITDA.

In this way, according to the ranking prepared by the leading tourism website, the chains with the greatest presence in the Caribbean and those dedicated exclusively to resorts are those that generate the greatest gains with respect to their revenues. Meanwhile, the conglomerates that also include intermediaries would have higher gross margin figures if they only reflected their hotel businesses, given that although they invoice less, they are more profitable.

Original story: Preferente (by Andrea Bulla)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Twin Peaks Acquires Top 6 Floors Of Paseo De Gracia 30 In Barcelona

14 November 2017 – Expansión

Barcelona’s luxury residential market has a new player. The Twin Peaks Capital family office, which is headquartered in Madrid but which is funded by capital from the Catalan Escoda family, has acquired the building located at number 30 Paseo de Gràcia in Barcelona. It is going to convert the property into super luxury apartments, which it expects to sell for prices of around €15,000/m2.

According to sources close to the operation – which does not include the retail premises – the fund has paid just over €25 million to the former Agrupació Mútua for the top six floors of the building, which span 3,200 m2. This property, which used to house the headquarters of Iberia in Barcelona, will undergo a comprehensive renovation, which will require the injection of an additional €25 million. The operation has been advised by CBRE.

Twin Peaks Capital was founded in Madrid in 2016 and its capital is split between the Escoda brothers and its CEO, the former director of Knight Frank, Ernesto Tarazona.

Original story: Expansión (by Marisa Anglés)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Aena Submits The Only Bid To Manage ‘Ghost’ Airport In Murcia

31 October 2017 – Expansión

Yesterday, Aena came to the rescue of the international airport for the Region of Murcia with a multi-million euro offer to take over its operation, management and conservation for a period of 25 years. This ghost infrastructure was planned before the crisis by the regional government and a consortium of companies led by Sacyr, at a cost of €270 million. Nevertheless, the outbreak of the crisis submerged the installation into a tsunami of financial and legal problems, which prevented it from being opened even after the construction work had been completed, in 2012.

Five years later, in April, the regional executive opened a tender process, with a budget of €600 million. Aena, in which the Spanish State holds a 51% stake, was the only company that expressed interest in managing the infrastructure and it formalised its offer yesterday. Sources close to the bid say that the amount offered by Aena falls well below the tender price.

In all likelihood, the airport manager’s plan will involve moving operations from the San Javier military airport, 30 km away, to Corvera. The new president of Aena, Jaime García-Legaz, who has only been in the job for two weeks, has focused on the need to secure the management of the Murcian airport. “We are going to make an offer to win that is profitable for Aena”, he said last week in meetings held with the group’s personnel (…). García-Legaz is Murcian, but the offer had already been prepared by his predecessor, José Manuel Vargas.

Currently, 400 employees work at San Javier airport, of whom 72 form part of the workforce, which would be affected by the move. The managers themselves have reviewed the facilities in recent weeks to check that everything is in order so as to start the operation in the most agile way possible.

Some sources say that the first flights could begin next summer (2018). “The main objective should be to secure Iberia or another major airline to turn the airport into a key infrastructure hub”, they add.

The arrival of one or more large companies is key if the reduction in passenger numbers at the Murcian airport is to be plugged. Since 2007, traffic volumes have fallen by half, from 2 million users to 1 million in 2016, proceeding from low-cost airlines such as Easyjet, Ryanair and Norwegian. And that decrease has happened despite the recent investment of €70 million made by Aena to construct a second runway. The airport has a single domestic route, connecting with Madrid, and 19 international routes, primarily to/from the United Kingdom. 92% of users are foreigners visiting the region for tourist purposes.

By contrast, the aerodrome in Alicante – 90km away – has seen its user number increase from 9 million to 12 million during the same period. Corvera is now adding capacity to manage a visitor flow of 3.5 million each year. If Aena does end up winning the contract to manage the installation, Corvera would become the 47th airport that the group manages in the country. The company has the capacity to welcome 330 million travellers, 30% more than the 230 million that used its airports in 2016.

Sources at Aena highlight that the airport in Murcia would generate profits for the group (…).

The Region of Murcia’s Ministry of Development will convene a meeting on Friday to analyse Aena’s offer and proceed to award the contract to manage the airport “as soon as possible”.

Original story: Expansión (by Víctor Martínez)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Realia Puts “Los Cubos” Building Up For Sale For €57M

2 November 2016 – Expansión

Realia, the real estate company controlled by Carlos Slim, has decided to cash in one of its most iconic assets. The company has put the office building known as Los Cubos, in Madrid, up for sale.

The property, which owes its name to its unique architecture, has a leasable surface area of 18,324 m2 and 334 parking spaces. The building has been empty since the end of 2015.

Its location, alongside the M-30 and next to the headquarters of companies such as Iberia and Alstom – which occupy an adjacent office complex owned by Colonial and its unique design make it attractive in the market, even though it does not have any tenants, say sources in the market.

Realia has decided to put the property on the market for €57 million – in other words, for around €3,000/m2 -, although it is also considering a possible project to renovate it, according to sources in the sector. Realia bought the building, which was constructed in 1981, in July 2004 from the insurance company Allianz for €60 million.

Possible interested parties include large Socimis such as Axiare, Hispania and Lar España, which have experience buying and renovating empty properties of this kind, as well as international funds looking for investment opportunities in Spain, who are struggling to find available properties in the centre of Madrid and Barcelona, say real estate sources.

This is Realia’s first divestment in the Spanish market in recent years. In 2014, the real estate company sold its stake in the French Socimi Siic de Paris. Realia received €559 million from the sale of its 59% stake, which it used to reduce its debt by around €1,000 million.

As at 30 September 2016, the group’s financial debt amounted to €900 million, down by 20% compared with the same time last year.

During the first nine months of the year, Realia generated revenues of €71.7 million and profits of €89 million. Excluding extraordinary items, its recurring profit amounted to €17.6 million.

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Cinven Offers €1,300M To Outbid EQT In Auction For Hotelbeds

27 April 2016 – Expansión

The private equity firm Cinven, which has invested heavily in Spain over the last two years, may take a leap forward if its bid for the Hotelbeds group goes ahead. TUI AG put the company up for sale at the end of 2015.

Sources close to the sales process indicate that Cinven has put an offer on the table, which values the tourism company at €1,300 million. The Nordic fund EQT is also participating in the bidding and sources do not rule out the possibility of other interested groups participating in what now seems to be the final stretch of the sales process of the Hotelbeds Group.

The company, a subsidiary of the Germany group TUI AG, works with 75,000 hotels all over the world and offers rooms to tour operators and travel agents around the globe. Hotelbeds, which receives more than 25 million hotel bookings per year, is one of the companies that emerged from the tourism sector thanks to new technologies and it has high growth projections.

Entry into the hotel segment

This would be Cinven’s first major foray into the hotel segment, but it would represent a return to the tourism business. Cinven, a fund headquartered in London, was created in 1977; it went on to acquire Amadeus in 2005, together with BC Partners.

The tourism sector’s technology provider, which was acquired from the major European airlines, was then delisted. In 2010, Cinven and BC Partners returned the company to the stock exchange and sold their shares.

Since its creation, Cinven has made acquisitions amounting to more than €70,000 million, specialising, above all, in investments with a significant technological component and always with holdings that exceed €100 million. (…).

Meanwhile, Hotelbeds has been on the market since last Autumn. Financial sources valued it at around €1,000 million. TUI had hoped to complete the sales process during the first three or four months of the year, and so a final agreement could be very close. Nevertheless, the emergence of the fund EQT in the process will intensify the Hotelbed operation.

Similarly, financial sources do not rule out that other funds may be preparing their own competitive offers.

Diversified portfolio

EQT, of Swedish origin, has assets under management of €29,000 million and its investment portfolio is very varied. In Spain, it holds stakes in two companies, Islalink and Parkia, which operate in the telecommunications and car park sectors, respectively.

EQT opened an office in Madrid in the middle of last year with the aim of looking for new investments in the Spanish and Portuguese markets. The fund hired a specialist team led by Fernando Conte, the former Chairman of Iberia and the tourism group Orizonia.

At the beginning of February, EQT bought the Swiss tourism group Kuoni for more than €1,100 million and, according to sources in the sector, it plans to integrate that business with the Hotelbeds Group.

For TUI AG, the sale of this company will mean saying goodbye to the online sector to focus on its traditional businesses: hotels and cruises. During the year to 30 September 2015, TUI AG generated revenues of more than €20,000 million, with an EBITDA of €1,069 million, up by almost 23%. Its shares closed at €13.09 on the stock exchange yesterday, up by 0.47%.

Original story: Expansión (by M.Á.Patiño and Y.Blanco)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Reyal Urbis Finds New Tenant For c/Torrelaguna Office

6 July 2015 – Expansión

The real estate company, Reyal Urbis, has found a new tenant to lease one of PwC’s former headquarters, at number 75 on the Madrilenian street, Calle Torrelaguna. The office has a surface area of more than 11,000 m2. Companies such as Iberia, BNP Paribas and Alstom have all moved to the area in recent times.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Tourist Sector Hits Back At Airbnb, HomeAway & Niumba

18 May 2015 – Expansión

The sector is demanding a stronger institutional fight against the intermediaries. The Government says that each region is responsible for its own response.

The main Spanish tourism companies have teamed up in an offensive with the aim of limiting the power of the proliferation of unregulated tourist rental accommodation, which do not pay taxes and do not meet the safety, hygiene and space requirements and other guarantees offered by legal accommodation. The sector wants to curb the platforms (websites such as Airbnb, 9flats, Wimdu, Rentalia, Niumba and HomeAway, amongst others) that make money by acting as intermediaries. And to that end, it has been pressuring the Spanish Government for some time to prohibit them, since they think that the autonomous communities are not fulfilling their regulatory duties.

Over the last few months, the tourism association Exceltur, whose members include prestigious companies such as NH, Melia, Iberia, American Express, Hotusa and Globalia, has been holding conversations with the Secretary of State for Tourism (who reports into the Ministry for Industry, Energy and Tourism). Exceltur thinks that the Executive “could do a lot more” to regulate the operations of these rental companies, which it considers are unfair competition and which threaten its business. The main trade association for Spanish hoteliers, Cehat, estimates that between 2010 and 2013, the number of customers staying at these establishments increased by 300%, and it calculates that the number of foreign tourists who use them represents more than 20% of the total.

To support its position, Exceltur has commission the consultancy firm EY (Ernst & Young) to conduct a study analysing the impact that this illegal rental accommodation is having on the tourism sector as a whole, not just on the hotel segment. To date, EY has prepared a report about the consequences for the Balearic Islands if this rental accommodation continues to grow at its current rate over the next ten years. According to its calculations, the hotel sector would lose between 5,000 and 13,000 jobs and forgo a gross added value of between €211 million and €529 million.

Regional jurisdiction

The Government says that tourism is a regional jurisdiction, and so the Central Administration cannot do much beyond trying to standardise the regional regulations as much as possible. Moreover, the upcoming regional and general elections are likely to scupper any attempt at reform.

To date, the regions that have endeavoured to do the most to regulate tourist rental accommodation are Madrid and Cataluña, although the former received a blow from the National Competition and Markets Commission (CNMC) in March when it ruled that the Madrid law (which only allows accommodation to be rented provided the minimum stay is five days) is a barrier to free competition.

Meanwhile, the Catalan Generalitat requires intermediary websites to ensure that each property offered for rent has a kind of identification number plate to accredit it as accommodation with its license in order. Last summer, Cataluña imposed a fine of €300,000 on the web portal Airbnb for allegedly failing to comply with that standard.

On an international level, cities are taking a variety of decisions. Thus, for example, New York has declared war on tourist rental accommodation, with coordinated teams of tax inspectors, police and lawyers; and the town hall of Amsterdam has just approved an agreement with Airbnb, which requries the platform to coordinate the collection of the tourist tax that is applicable to the activities of its users.

The so-called “collaborative economy” represents a real headache for legislators, both in Spain and across Europe. In Spain, Article 16 of the Law for Information Society Services (2002) states that intermediaries (such as Airbnb, Uber and others) are not liable for the possible unlawfulness of the people they host, unless they have specific knowledge thereof. Meanwhile, the European Commission is drafting a directive that may ease restrictions on the European market and facilitate the activity of these platforms.

Original story: Expansión (by Yago González)

Translation: Carmel Drake