Interview With Arcano Bosses: Álvaro De Remedios & Jaime Carvajal

19 September 2017 – Expansión

Interview with Álvaro de Remedios (pictured above, left) and Jaime Carvajal (pictured above, right), President and CEO of Arcano / The executives are committed to backing the Spanish economy and do not believe that Cataluña will break the rule of law.

In 2003, after a lifetime as an investment banker, Álvaro de Remedios (Madrid, 1968) decided to found Arcano and he was soon joined by Jaime Carvajal (Madrid, 1964). Both shared the vision of accompanying their clients throughout the transaction process and of placing the knowledge of senior executives at their disposal. Fourteen years later, Arcano has 15 partners, a workforce of more than 140 people, offices in Madrid, Barcelona and New York, and it has added the management of alternative assets and real estate advice to its core investment banking business.

Q: The boutique advisors have completed quite a few high-profile operations in recent months.

Jaime Carvajal: It is a world that is growing. The bankers at boutique firms have a lot of experience and the teams are more senior than in the large investment banks, in general. But sometimes, it is good to have both profiles involved in an operation. For this reason, Jefferies makes so much sense for us.

– What fruits are being born from the alliance with Jefferies?

Álvaro de Remedios: We are Jefferies’ partners in Spain. We benefit from its status as a global bank with an international presence and a great sectoral specialisation, and they benefit from our local presence and closeness to the market. Apart from the fact that we have business cards with different logos on them, we act as a single firm. We signed the alliance more than two years ago. The first year was spent understanding each other’s businesses, and during this second year, we have participated in several operations together (…).

Q: Do you expect to see an upturn in corporate operations?

Á.R: Yes, we think so, although that could just be our perception and not the view shared by the sector. We have closed around 30 advisory operations in the last 18 months. We are all very busy.

Q: Are the prices of operations rising due to the high degree of liquidity?

Á.R: There is a lot of liquidity and prices are clearly rising, but there is one key element that is different to before the crisis and that is the fact that financings are much more prudent than before. Prices are higher, but they are not off the scale, and financing is more conservative because investors are being cautious. The scars from the crisis are still there and that is a lesson.

Q: Are investors willing to earn less in this environment?

J.C: The very low interest rates have forced a change in expectations and has resulted in the arrival of new investors, such as infrastructure and pension funds, which are willing to forgo profitability in exchange for assuming lower risk. That is what is driving up prices.

Q: Is the real estate market at its peak in Spain?

Á.R: We are not betting on a rise in interest rates or an increase in prices; we bet on our own added value: we buy a building, we do it up and that is how we generate returns. Our expectation is that prices are not going to grow by much more in the real estate market, but, with our strategy, we are still generating returns (…).

Q: Is the economic outlook bright?

J.C: At Arcano, we started to back the Spanish economy in 2012 and we continue to do so. There are no significant risks threatening the economy: the banking system is robust and the problem of Popular has been resolved. The only clear problem is the inevitable increase in interest rates, but that is not going to happen in the short term, at least in Europe (…).

Original story: Expansión (by S. Arancibia, I. Abril and A. Stumpf.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sabadell Engages Lazard To Evaluate Future Of HI Partners

29 August 2017 – Expansión

Banco Sabadell is studying the best solution for its hotel manager HI Partners. To this end, the financial entity has engaged the investment bank Lazard to analyse the private sale of its subsidiary or to search for a shareholder to acquire a majority stake in the company, according to market sources.

In this way, Sabadell is opening a window of opportunity to those who may be interested in taking full or majority control of its hotel management company, whilst it continues, in parallel with the IPO of the same entity.

These two options will allow Sabadell to make cash on the one hand and undo its positions, taking advantage of the current investor appetite in the real estate sector and, specifically, the interest in hotel assets, and secondly, to find a partner to take a majority stake and whereby deconsolidate the business from its balance sheet.

The operation, known in the market as a dual-track deal, allows the company to launch a sale and the search for interested parties in parallel to and at the same time as it undertakes the stock market debut process.

In this way, Lazard’s commission is independent of the contract that HI Partners signed to evaluate the feasibility of listing the company on the stock market.

Opportunities

Sources at the bank consulted by Expansión have indicated that this represents a “very preliminary sounding out” of the various deconsolidation and value-generating options. (…).

In this sense, the CEO of Sabadell, Jaime Guardiola, said during the presentation of the bank’s most recent results that the vocation of the financial entity is not to remain as managers over the long term: “we want to exit and we have a very good opportunity ahead of us”, he explained.

HI Partners is led by Alejandro Hernández-Puértolas (pictured above centre), CEO of the company, who, together with Sergio Carrascosa (pictured above left) and Santiago Fisas (pictured above right), two other former executives of Reig Capital, comprise the management team.

The group was created in 2015 following the transfer of around twenty hotels by Banco Sabadell. The financial entity had foreclosed those assets during the crisis following the non-payment of debts. Moreover, HI Partners is responsible for managing the bank’s hotel debt.

IPO

To control these assets, the hotel investment and management arm of Banco Sabadell created two companies: one to hold the best hotels in the chain, HI Partners Holdco Value, and another containing smaller hotels in secondary locations, HI Partners Holdco Gestión Activa, with the intention of improving their management to then sell them on.

For the time being, Sabadell is not ruling out any of the options and is continuing to analyse the debut of its hotel management and investment subsidiary on the stock market.

Before the summer, the bank engaged the investment banks Citi, JPMorgan and Credit Suisse to sound out the market and analyse the feasibility of listing its hotel management subsidiary on the stock market (…).

In the event that the bank decides to debut the company on the stock market, the operation will focus on the company that controls the most strategic assets: 14 high-end hotels located in the main tourist areas and which, as at 30 June, had a combined appraisal value of €689 million, with more than 3,700 rooms in the portfolio.

Original story: Expansión (by R. Arroyo and J. Orihuel)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sabadell Considers Listing HI Partners As A Socimi

29 May 2017 – Eje Prime

A new IPO may be on the horizon for the real estate arm of one of the large Spanish banks. Banco Sabadell is analysing the option of debuting its subsidiary HI Partners, through which it owns a portfolio of 31 hotels across Spain, on the stock market as a Socimi.

According to Expansión, the bank has engaged the investment banks Citi, JP Morgan and Credit Suisse to study the feasibility of the placement, whose final green light will depend on the entity’s President, Josep Oliu. The eventual debut on the stock market could take place after the summer.

Led by Alejandro Hernández-Puértolas and chaired by Enric Rovira, HI Partners was founded in 2015 by Sabadell to enable the Catalan entity to concentrate the ownership of the real estate assets linked to the tourist sector that it obtained as a result of foreclosures, into a single company. Through two companies, HI Partners Value Added and HI Partners Gestión Activa, the firm now owns 31 hotels with more than 3,500 rooms, which are managed by various hotel operators.

The group’s assets include establishments in Tenerife (the Hotel Jardín Tropical), Marbella (Incosol), Sitges (Terramar), Valencia (Acteon), Málaga (an establishment run by the hotel chain Silken) and Mallorca (the Hilton Sa Torre). In addition, HI Partners manages €800 million of the bank’s hotel debt.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sabadell Places €1,000M In 10-Year Mortgage Bonds

20 April 2017 – Expansión

It has taken Sabadell just four months to debut on the debt market this year. Yesterday, it completed the placement of €1,000 million in mortgage bonds with a maturity of 10 years, to leave Popular as the only entity that, given the uncertainty surrounding its specific situation, has not resorted to the capital markets to raise finance or secure resources for its capital buffer.

For these bonds, Sabadell is offering a coupon of 1%, in other words, 33 basis points above the mid-swap rate, the reference rate for issuances of fixed income securities in euros. The mortgage bonds are the safest debt that an entity can issue, given that, in Spain, they are guaranteed by all of the mortgage loans of the issuing bank, which serve as collateral in the event of bankruptcy. There has never been a default of this kind in Spain.

To carry out the operation, Sabadell has received help from Barclays, Commerzbank, Crédit Agricole, Lloyds and Natixis, as well as from its own investment banking team. Demand for the bond issue amounted to €2,400 million, in other words, more than twice the amount awarded.

Santander Totta

Meanwhile, Santander Totta, the Portuguese subsidiary of Santander, launched an order yesterday to place 7- and 10-year mortgage bonds. According to sources in the market, the operation will close tomorrow and will serve to raise cheap financing. Besides Santander, the following entities are participating in that operation: Unicredit, Deutsche Bank and Société Générale.

Original story: Expansión (by A. Stumpf)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Habitat To Start Negotiating With Investment Banks

2 February 2017 – Expansión

The property developer Habitat is getting ready to grow. The company has convened a General Shareholders’ Meeting on 8 March 2017 to authorise the Board to start negotiating its growth plans with investment banks such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Alantra. Sources in the sector indicate that the property developer is currently working to define its corporate strategy. Habitat faces a phase of expansion after, in 2014, it signed the first major modification to a creditors’ agreement in Spain with a discount of 85% on its debt of €1,200 million.

The company was unable to meet the payment plan established by the agreement that allowed it to file for creditor bankruptcy in 2010 and which saw the following entities become shareholders after they capitalised their debt: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, SP101 Finance Ire-land, Capstone, CCP Credit Acquisition Holdings Luxco, CSCP II, Arvo, Goldman Sachs and Melf. Habitat has promoted housing developments in several of Spain’s major cities since the modification to the agreement was signed.

Original story: Expansión (by G. T.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Colonial Analyses Possible Axiare Takeover Bid

21 November 2016 – Expansión

(…) Colonial, the real estate company whose shareholders include the Qatari sovereign fund, Villar Mir and the Mexican group Finaccess, has launched a process to evaluate the purchase of Axiare, in an operation that would involve the launch of a takeover bid.

According to financial sources, Colonial has engaged JPMorgan to analyse the process for buying its competitor as well as the options for financing the deal. In addition, the real estate company is reportedly sounding out several international investment banks regarding this operation. Axiare has a market capitalisation of €963 million.

The operation, known internally as Project Tiger, is being conducted with the maximum discretion, due to the concerns that Colonial’s recent share capital acquisition has generated amongst the Socimi’s management team.

On 17 October, the real estate company chaired by Juan José Brugera became Axiare’s largest shareholder, when it acquired 15.09% of its share capital, off market, from the management company Perry Partners. Until that point, Perry had been the Socimi’s largest shareholder, with a stake of around 19%. (…).

The fund manager generated significant profits from the sale of most of its stake in Colonial, given that it paid €10 per share when it acquired its stake and sold at €12.50 per share. Perry still holds a small stake in Axiare, which it wants to sell and Colonial is the best positioned investor.

Perry is not the only fund that acquired shares in the Socimi when it debuted on the stock market that is now willing to sell its stake (and generate significant profits in just over two years). In this way, several investors have approached Colonial with the intention of reaching an agreement similar to the one negotiated with Perry, according to sources close to the real estate company.

Meanwhile, Colonial has been focusing on growing in size for some time. Having resolved its financial problems of the past, and with a stable shareholder base, the real estate company has been undertaking investment operations amounting to around €500 million for several years. (…).

Nevertheless, its strategy to invest only in offices in Madrid, Barcelona and Paris, combined with the enormous buying pressure that currently exists in Spain’s two largest real estate markets, has caused Colonial to look for “more imaginative solutions”, such as the purchase of a 15% stake in Axiare.

The Socimi, which is obliged to distribute at least 85% of its profits to its shareholders, welcomed the entry of Colonial into its share capital initially.

Nevertheless, in recent weeks, the team led by Luis López de Herrera-Oria has strongly criticised the operation and has not hesitated in hiring legal advisors to analyse it. (…).

The reality is that Axiare’s share price has experienced several ups and downs since the entry of Colonial. Nevertheless, in recent days, its value has increased to exceed the threshold of €12.50 (the price paid by the real estate company), to reach €13.40 on Friday, having risen by 1.28% during trading. Since Colonial acquired its stake, Axiare’s shares have appreciated by 12%.

If Colonial ends up completing the takeover, it would take control of a new portfolio worth €1,049 million, in one fell swoop, which it would add to the €7,556 million that it currently manages (…). By way of context, following its merger with Testa and Metrovacesa, Merlin controls assets worth around €9,300 million.

Original story: Expansión (by R. Ruiz/D. Badía)

Translation: Carmel Drake