Colau Sells Mediapro’s Headquarters to a Company Based in Luxembourg

19 June 2018 – El Español

The Town Hall of Barcelona has sold the shares of the joint venture company Mediacomplex SA, created by the Town Hall and the businessman Jaume Roures (pictured below), with the aim of constructing the Imagina building in 22@, to an unknown company headquartered in Luxembourg. This direct award to the overseas company, which will be made official today, has the backing of the municipal legal services and comes after no companies bid in the auction held at the height of the independence process, between 14 September and 14 November 2017.

The history of this project goes way back, given that it began in 2004 when Joan Clos was the mayor of the city. And its dissolution has been extremely arduous. Fourteen years ago, Mediapro constituted, through its company Rilson XXI Inmuebles SL, a joint venture with the municipal company 22@, subsequently absorbed by Barcelona de Infraestructuras Municipales SA (Bimsa). That joint venture is Mediacomplex, in which the Town Hall held a 33.3% stake and Mediapro the remaining 66.7%. The aim of the company was to construct the Imagina building, located at number 177 Avenida Diagonal, in the heart of the 22@ district and where companies belonging to Roures’ group have their headquarters.

The agreement specified that the Town Hall would pay €16.8 million to carry out the project, whilst Roures would pay a fee for the use of the land, owned by the state. But the businessman never made his payments and instead accumulated a debt amounting to €2.9 million.

Given that situation, in the summer of 2017, the government’s team decided to annul the contractual relationship with the businessman. The Board of Directors of Bimsa initiated the process to auction off the shares in the joint venture. In September of that year, 21 companies expressed their interest in acquiring the Imagina building. But two months later, none of them bid in the auction, which was abandoned. The period between 14 September and 7 November – the deadline for the submission of offers – coincided with the most critical period of the independence process.

It was then that the Town Hall commissioned a legal report about the viability of proceeding with the direct award of the shares in Mediacomplex to the company HEVF Master HoldCo S. À. R. L, constituted in October 2017, owned 100% by Hines European Value Fund SCP. The lawyers backed that operation, involving the purchase of 6,638 shares in Mediacomplex at €2,812 each, taking the total consideration to €18.6 million. The company made the offer in April.

But, as it happened, two weeks ago, the Board of Directors of Bimsa met, without the attendees being informed about the sale. That is according to assurances given by the PP councillor for the Town Hall Eduardo Bolaños, who is a member of Bimsa. “It is strange that we were not informed about that operation. We do not understand why that company had not bid in the auction that was abandoned. If it did, we are not aware of it and we are going to ask the Economy and Finance Committee about it all”, he explained.

That Committee, which will meet today Tuesday, will address the sale of Mediacomplex to the Luxembourg-based company.

The Imagina building was used by Mediapro to install the international press centre for the illegal referendum of 1 October. Similarly, the candidacy of Junts per Catalunya, with Carles Puigdemont at the top of the list, launched its electoral campaign at the venue.

Original story: El Español (by María Jesús Cañizares)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Real Estate Funds Warn About Their Immediate Retreat In Case Of Secession

10 September 2015 – Expansión

Risk-averse/FEARING THE RISK / International investors warn that the uncertainty and the country risk the independence process of Catalonia would mean, will automatically alienate them from the region and some of them have already reflected this in their statutes.

That money is a coward is not new. The international investment funds require legal security and political stability to invest in a country and Catalonia may lose both if the pro-independence parties win a majority in the elections of 27-S. Currently all funds continue studying the real estate market in Barcelona because they think there is no risk of achieving independence, but also ensure that should it occur, they would leave the Catalan capital immediately.

Enrique Lacalle, president of the real estate Barcelona Meeting Point (BMP), which every year brings together leading governmental, private and institutional investment vehicles worldwide, states that “many presidents of major funds have told us that if the international investor is not sure of a place/location, he will invest in another.” The capital “does not like uncertainties, therefore it is not invested in conflict zones, and Catalonia has raised many questions in recent times, which can increase depending on the outcome of these regional elections”.

The president of BMP recalls that three years ago, international investment has returned “massively” to Madrid and Barcelona for two reasons: their confidence in the reforms Spain has carried out and improving economy, which currently registers the highest growth in Europe. “Many job positions depend on this sector, so the consequences are not good for Catalonia”, notes Lacalle.

Veto in the statutes

Some of the funds specify in their statutes the impossibility of investing in a country outside the European Union. Fernando Conde, the president of the company for managing real estate and hotel assets, Newland, explains that he is currently advising a London-based fund management company investing capital from US, to reassess its operations based on the outcome of the 27-S. “I have been told explicitly that their statutes forbid them to continue investing in Catalonia if it separates from Spain,” says Conde. He adds that “they continue to study the market because they don’t believe it is going to happen, but in their contract there is a specific clause stating that if independence is achieved negotiations will be aborted.” On the other hand, although they are still here, they do complain that there are very few explanations about how the process will be carried and claim that some serious questions, of a concern to investors, such as in what way Catalonia will get in debt, have not been cleared yet”.

The director of investment department of Aguirre Newman consultancy in Barcelona, Hipolito Sanchez, notes that the funds he works with also expressed some doubts. Investors buy buildings based on profitability the rent will bring” explains the consultant, “and the urban leases act, for example, is a state law that in case of a hypothetical independence would mean dependency on the new jurisdiction.” This is the kind of legal uncertainty that could restrain investors, says Sanchez.


In his opinion, the independence process would result in the same consequences for investment as the country risk in 2008: “Cessation of investments awaiting improvement, the classic English ‘wait and see’,” he says.

The vice president of CBRE in Spain, Enrique Martinez-Laguna, thinks the same, adding that this hypothetical timeout the process will cause until the situation in Catalonia normalizes, would halt the investment. “An illiquid market not only implies a slowdown in the arrival of new projects, but also means that those already there can not rotate their assets as they would like.” “I do not want to predict whether it will be positive or negative for Catalonia, but no sector dependent on foreign investment likes uncertainty,” concludes Martinez-Laguna.

Many funds have told us that they do not invest in areas of conflict and would prefer somewhere else. “

“Some are prohibited in their statutes from investing in Catalonia if it secedes from Spain”

“Neither family nor conventional tourism want a destination conveying an image of conflict and aggression “

“The separation of Catalonia from Spain would greatly affect the congress and convention sector”

“The waiting period for the investors a hypothetical secession would cause, would leave the market without liquidity”

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Lee La