19 January 2018 – El Confidencial
Juan Pepa (pictured above left), the man who brought Lone Star to Spain, and Felipe Morenés, the son of Ana Botín and executive of the Texan fund for five years, are working together again. The two directors have just launched Stoneshield Capital, a firm that plans to invest €300 million in the Spanish real estate sector.
According to sources in the know, the two partners already have €200 million of capital, money that proceeds from: their own assets, some of Lone Star’s institutional investors and the famous financier Warren Buffet, who has decided to back them in this venture, although the parties involved did not want to confirm that information.
Unlike in the case of Lone Star, which has an opportunistic profile, Morenés and Pepa now want to focus on more conservative operations, which will limit the level of indebtedness of the new fund to around 50%, meaning that its investor capacity will reach the aforementioned €300 million.
The plans of these two partners are already very well advanced, with several operations on the table under analysis, and with the aim of investing all of that money in just a year, in other words, during the course of 2018, to take advantage of the current cycle.
Although the bulk of Stoneshield’s operations will be carried out in the residential segment, the firm is also interested in acquiring hotels, offices and commercial assets, according to the same sources.
In November, in an email sent only to his circle of trust, Pepa announced that he was leaving Lone Star and that he would be taking a two-month sabbatical in his home country, Argentina, although in that email he also hinted that after Christmas he would be back in the news in Spain.
Letting that time pass was one of the commitments that Pepa agreed with Lone Star. That firm was already pursuing its exit strategy when, last summer, Santander put Popular’s €30 billion real estate asset portfolio on the market.
The Texan fund, led by Pepa and Morenés, fought to the end to acquire those assets, which would have resulted in Lone Star’s continuation in Spain. But Blackstone’s triumph meant that the fund decided to continue with its policy to close the cycle and so Pepa and Morenés opted to put their own plans into play.
Then, according to the sources, the two parties agreed to wait for Lone Star to complete its divestment from Neinor before moving actively in the Spanish market. The US fund sold its final 12.5% stake in the real estate company last week.
Morenés, meanwhile, has also left Lone Star, according to Vozpópuli, and the two partners are now working to create a team of around 10 people with whom they plan to operate with the same speed and element of surprise that characterised Lone Star when it first arrived in Spain.
Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)
Translation: Carmel Drake