Lar España Sells Retail Assets to French Fund Pierre Plus for €33M

13 March 2018 – Expansión

The Socimi Lar España has sold some commercial assets to the French investment fund Pierre Plus SCPI for €33.2 million. Specifically, the firm has sold two out-of-town stores in the Nuevo Alisal retail park in Santander (pictured above) and a commercial building in Villaverde (Madrid).

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

B&B Adds 7 Hotels to its Portfolio in Spain

5 February 2018 – Expansión

Growth / The French group has added seven establishments from the H2 Hoteles chain, two under ownership. Its domestic portfolio now comprises 29 hotels and more than 2,700 rooms. 

B&B Hotels –owned by the private equity fund PAI Partners – is strengthening its commitment to Spain. The French group, which arrived in the country in 2015 with the purchase of four hotels and, one year later, purchased the low-cost chain Sidorme, has incorporated seven new establishments from the Catalan H2 Hoteles chain into its portfolio. Two of the properties have been included as owned assets and the other five are rental arrangements; these hotels contain 600 rooms in total.

With this operation, the company specialising in low-cost hotels now operates 29 establishments in the domestic market, comprising more than 2,700 rooms.

Specifically, B&B Hotels has completed the purchase of the management company and the rental contracts – which have a duration of almost 20 years – and has incorporated the H2 Hoteles establishments’ teams in Castellón, Elche, Getafe, Granada and Jerez de la Frontera, owned by AC Hoteles. Moreover, the French group has taken ownership of another two hotels in Oviedo and Rubí (Barcelona).

Following the purchase, H2 Hoteles will have three hotels left in its portfolio –H2 Sant Cugat (Barcelona), H2 Fuenlabrada (Madrid) and H2 Ávila–, as well as apartments in Cáceres.

The Director General of B&B Hotels Spain and Portugal, Jairo González, explained to Expansión that the company plans to sell the ownership assets in the short term. “We will likely incorporate other hotels to be able to have a portfolio of assets that we can sell all together, continuing with their management and following the company’s asset-light model”, he said.

In the framework of this strategy, in May, B&B Hotels reached an agreement with the investment fund Corum to sell eight hotels that it owned in Spain for €30 million. By virtue of that agreement, B&B will continue to operate those establishments under rental agreements for at least 15 years.

The director said that the H2 Hoteles establishments are “in perfect operating condition”, and will be adapted over the next few months to fit with the company’s corporate image.

“The forecast investment for the seven hotels amounts to almost €1.5 million and will be limited to adapting the establishments to our identity”, he added.

Plans

In terms of growth plans, the executive expressed his intention to continue to increase his firm’s presence in Spain. “We have more than 20 projects under development in different degrees of maturity in the Iberian Peninsula. In Portugal, for example, we expect to announce more news soon. We forecast that we will have more than 50 establishments by the end of 2019”, said González.

B&B’s roadmap in Spain allowed the firm to triple its revenues last year to reach €30 million. Besides Spain, B&B Hotels Group has a presence in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Morocco, the Czech Republic and Brazil. The company’s plans involve strengthening its world network to reach 600 hotels by 2020, with around 50,000 rooms.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Alpha Pyrenees Sells Alcalá Plaza Shopping Centre in Sevilla

13 December 2017 – Expansión

Alpha Pyrenees, an investment fund listed on the London Stock Exchange, has sold the Alcalá Plaza shopping centre, located in the town of Alcalá de Guadaira (Sevilla), for €655,000.

The centre, which has a gross leasable surface area of approximately 5,100 m2, has been acquired by a private Spanish investor, according to a statement made by the fund yesterday to the British regulator.

The sale forms part of an orderly divestment process that the fund initiated in September. That process also included an asset owned by the fund in France, located in Saint Cyr L’Ecole, as well as the Las Torres shopping centre in the Sevillan town of Écija.

Alpha Pyrenees acquired the two shopping centres in Spain more than a decade ago.

Original story: Expansión (by R. Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Axiare: BofA & 4 Large Hedge Funds Acquire Stakes in Midst of Colonial Takeover Bid

21 November 2017 – Bolsa Mania

Bank of America, one of the giants of the US financial sector, has acquired a stake in Axiare, at the same time as Colonial has launched a takeover bid for the Socimi with the aim of creating an office rental giant. The US entity has declared to the CNMV that it holds a 6.7% stake in Axiare, whilst another group of funds has purchased just over 8% of the entity, at a time when the largest real estate operation in Spain this year is on the verge of being completed.

On Monday, the investment fund Wellington Management announced an increase in its stake from 3% to 3.8%. That means that 15% of Axiare’s share capital is now in the hands of funds. MVN Asset Management (Maven Securities), Gruss Global and Amber Global appeared last week with stakes of 3.5%, 1.1% and 1.21%, respectively. Those qualifying investors join Citi, which already held a 4.9% stake in the Socimi and which emerged as the only high-profile shareholder behind Colonial, after the other shareholders sold their stakes in this real estate company.

Specifically, the British firm MVN Asset Management (Maven Securities) declared a stake of 3.09% in Axiare on 13 November, and on Tuesday (21 November), increased that percentage to 3.5%. Gruss Global controls another 1.1%. Meanwhile, Amber Global, an entity headquartered in the Cayman Islands, has reported that it holds a stake of 1.21%, in that case, all through derivatives, according to the CNMV’s registers. Maven and Amber Global acquired their stakes in Axiare on the same day that Colonial launched its takeover bid for the Socimi Axiare. Colonial is already the largest shareholder with a 28.7% stake.

With its offer, the real estate company led by Pere Viñolas is looking to acquire the remaining 71% of Axiare that it does not yet control. On the same day as it submitted its offer, Colonial increased its stake in the Socimi from 15% to 28%. To that end, it offered €18.50 per share in the Socimi chaired by Luis López de Herrera-Oria. That price represents a premium of 13% over the share price of Axiare on the eve of the takeover and 20.8% over the average list price for the last three months. On Tuesday, the Socimi’s shares were trading at around €18.30.

Axiare claims that the takeover is “hostile”

Axiare says that the takeover that Colonial launched over the company on Monday is hostile in nature, given that it did not know anything about the intentions of the real estate company. The firm, whose largest shareholder is Colonial, announced that it will consult its legal and financial advisors regarding the details of the operation.

“Until the morning of 13 November, neither the management team nor the Board of Directors of Axiare was aware of the intentions of Colonial to purchase an additional block of shares, nor of its intention to formulate a takeover bid”, say sources at the firm chaired by Luis López de Herrera-Oria.

This is not the first time that discrepancies have arisen between the two companies. In fact, it is the second time that Axiare has expressed its resistance to Colonial’s acquisition of its shares. The first time was when the company purchased 15% of the Socimi. Proof, they argue, is that Colonial is not represented on the most senior governing body of Axiare, because it is considered to be a “competitor”.

Original story: Bolsa Mania (by Alberto Sanz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

French Fund Primonial Makes First Purchase In Spain

4 September 2017 – Expansión

The Spanish real estate market has a new investor: Primonial Reim, a French real estate fund manager that, with a portfolio of more than €10,700 million under management, has just completed its first purchase in Spain.

Primonial has acquired the Sant Antoni nursing home and clinic in Barcelona. The centre, located in La Marina del Port, has 300 beds, with a total surface area of 16,000 m2. For this asset, Primonial Reim has disbursed €20 million, in an operation that has been advised by Cuatrecasas, JLL and Grant Thornton, which has performed the financial due diligence.

The Sant Antoni centre, owned until now by the firm Hucasve, will be incorporated into the portfolio of its subsidiary SCPI Primovie, whilst the management of the centre (engaged to the Catalan Health Service) will remain unchanged, under the terms of the long-term contract in place.

Alternative assets

The Spanish real estate sector has been on the radar of all overseas investors for several months now, given the expectations of a macroeconomic recovery and the affordable prices of assets compared with those in other similar locations. Due to this high demand, the assets most favoured by investors (such as offices and commercial assets) are scarce, and so properties known as alternative assets are becoming a highly attractive option. These properties include medical centres, nursing homes and halls of residence.

According to Deloitte, investment in alternative assets in Europe accounts for 14% of the total, although that figure is much lower in Spain. As such, the segment in Spain offers significant potential, with returns of 6% on average, well above those of other real estate assets.

The most high profile transactions in this market in recent times include a purchase by another French group, the investment fund Eurosic Lagune – owner of the Socimi Eurosic – which bought 16 nursing homes from the SARquavitae Group for €116 million.

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Patron Capital Acquires Los Alcores Shopping Centre

30 April 2017 – ABC

A constant and silent trickle of investments has seen a significant number of the shopping centres in Andalucía change hands. The latest operation was closed in March, when the investment fund Patron Capital – which is headquartered in London and which has a portfolio worth more than €5,000 million – acquired Los Alcores, the most well-known establishment in Alcalá de Guadaíra (with a leasable area of 124,000 m2). Its tenants include H&M, Lefties, Bershka, Stradivarius and Cinesur.

The shopping centre, located at the foot of the A-92 motorway, has belonged to Incus Capital since 2013, just like El Mirador (in Cuenca) and Alzamora (in Alcoy). Now, these three properties have been acquired by Patron Capital, which has joined forces with the firm Eurofund to invest more than €13 million modernising the properties.

According to the experts, the operation makes sense, “Los Alcores is located in an area that will be served by the metro in the near future and which has large residential projects underway nearby, such as Hacienda Rosario being constructed by Aedas Homes; it is highly visible from the motorway and its tenants include many household names”, said Rosa Madrid, Director of CBRE in Andalucía, the firm that advised the operation.

A report by this consultancy highlights that the shopping centre business has “been recovering for several years and recorded a successful year in 2016”. Behind this rise is “the increase in consumption and, therefore, the good indicators in terms of visitor numbers and sales, which improved by 3.1% and 1.6%, respectively (taking the portfolio of shopping centres managed by CBRE in Spain as a sample)”.

From there, the significant interest from the major commercial brands in growing again, “which has allowed shopping centre occupancy rates to increase at a good pace”. In the CBRE portfolio, “the average occupancy rate rose from 89.6% to 93.9% between 2014 and 2016, figures that illustrate the improvement in the sector”.

If we look at what has happened over the last twelve months, it is clear that this sector “is on a roll”. At the end of 2016, the Via Outlet group – in which the London-based giant Hammerson owns a stake – purchased The Style Outlet in the town of San José de la Rinconada (better known as “The Airport Factory”). Until now, that establishment has belonged to a fund promoted by the Spanish real estate company Neinver (controlled by the Losantos family). Its major rival, the Outlet de Dos Hermanas, had already been acquired by Green Oak, just a few months earlier.

Major sales

These operations joined a long list, which also includes Grupo Lar, which sold the Airesur de Castilleja de la Cuesta shopping centre to CBRE Global Investors. And an Andalucían company has also made money in this wave, specifically, the case of Bogaris, which sold six retail parks in Andalucía and Extremadura to Redevco Iberian Ventures in the middle of last year for €95 million (including Kinepolis Pulianas, las Marismas del Polvorín and the Motril retail park).

And the activity does not end there: Axiare Patrimonio purchased the Viaparck shopping centre in Almería for €20 million; Alpha Pyrenees Trust bought the Connecta shopping centre in Córdoba….and just a few weeks ago, New Winds Group (the owner of the Windsor building in Madrid) purchased Málaga Plaza shopping centre. Just another sign of the good health of a business that is taking off again.

Original story: ABC (by Luis Montoto)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Segro Expands Its Logistics Park In Martorelles

27 April 2017 – Eje Prime

Segro is fuelling its business in Spain. The British investment fund, which specialises in the real estate-logistics sector, has expanded its logistics park in Martorelles, its first development in Spain, to 54,000 m2, according to a statement published by the company.

Segro’s tenant for the majority of the plant will be Amazon, which will occupy 34,000 m2, according to the group. Segro has announced the acquisition of a plot of three hectares, located in the same industrial area of Can Roca, in Martorelles. The company will allocate that land to the development of another 20,000 m2 for logistics warehouses.

The park is strategically located by the northern entrance to Barcelona, close to the A-7 motorway and just 15km away from the city centre. The project has been designed and constructed as a logistics facility, with loading capacity on both sides, and a high degree of flexibility in terms of its uses.

Since Segro began its activity in Spain in September 2015, it has acquired a logistics park measuring 16,000 m2 in Coslada (Madrid), in March 2016, another space spanning 50,000 m2 in Castellar del Vallès in September last year, and the new plot that it has recently acquired in Martorelles. In total, Segro’s portfolio contains 120,000 m2 of land (…) in Spain.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

The EBA Lobbies For The Creation Of A European Bad Bank

31 January 2017 – El Economista

On Monday, the European Banking Authority (EBA) urged the European Union (EU) authorities to establish an alternative investment fund to acquire delinquent loans from the European financial sector, with the aim of stimulating economic growth in the region.

In a speech in Luxembourg, the President of the EBA, Andrea Ernie, highlighted that tackling the high level of delinquent debt in the EU – which stands at approximately €1 billion – is an “urgent and viable” issue, according to Reuters.

In this sense, Enria indicated that EU banks may sell some of their non-performing loans to an EU “asset management” company.

Enria proposes assigning an agreed “real economic value” to the non-performing loans sold and for the investment fund that buys them to act as a “bad bank”, given that it would have the obligation to dispose of the assets within three years at their real economic value, rather than at market price.

“If that value is not achieved, the bank must bear the impact at the market price and a public recapitalization must be carried out with all the conditions that accompany the process”, said the President of the EBA.

In this regard, the Managing Director of the European Stability Mechanism (MEDE), Klaus Regling, welcomed the EBA’s initiative and added that the proposal does not involve sharing banking risks between member states, which is something that Germany has firmly opposed in recent years.

“It is likely that the public sector will have to play a role”, said Regling at the event, where he also said that the “bad bank” should aim to acquire up to €250,000 million of non-performing loans.

Original story: El Economista

Translation: Carmel Drake

Community Of Madrid Will Buy Homes From Banks For Social Housing Stock

22 November 2016 – El Mundo

Next year, the regional government of Madrid, led by Cristina Cifuentes, will spend €10 million buying homes in the free market to incorporate them into the stock owned by the Social Housing Agency – the new Ivima. “We hope to buy properties from Sareb and other financial institutions with significant “stock””, said the Community of Madrid’s Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Housing, Pedro Rollán (pictured above, right).

According to his calculations, it currently takes around six months for the autonomous Administration to hand over the keys to a social housing property to a claimant (…). The collapse of the real estate market means that the cost of constructing a new social housing property through the Public Administration and the cost of development by a private property developer is almost the same.

“We want to acquire around 60 or 70 homes, depending on the final price. The idea is to take advantage of the exceptional circumstances that we are facing at the moment, to facilitate access to housing for people who need it, as quickly as possible”, he said. (…).

Agreements with Bankia and La Caixa

Despite the sale of almost 3,000 homes to an overseas investment fund, the Social Housing Agency owns a significant real estate stock, comprising 23,690 properties of which, approximately 300 are free market properties “which are being repaired or which belong to the Emergency Social Housing Plan. In other words, they are reserved for use by citizens in the event of a catastrophe or emergency”, said a spokesperson for the regional government.

The regional government has been in conversations with Bankia and La Caixa since the beginning of its term in office to try to reach an agreement about the use of this housing stock, which cannot be put on the market.

“This is the first time that the Community of Madrid is going to undertake an operation of this kind”, said a regional spokesperson. Previous regional governments put in place measures to facilitate citizens’ access to housing, but none of them went this far.

Nevertheless, the Socialist spokesman for Housing, Daniel Viondi, does not share the Minister’s enthusiasm. (…). The parliament member says that the Minister has not specified “how many homes there are going to be, where they will be located or how much they will cost, and furthermore, there won’t be any regional budgets available until at least March”. (…).

“Cifuentes is turning the Community of Madrid into an estate agent. It costs more to buy such properties than build them from scratch and she is missing out on the opportunity to create thousands of jobs and to give the construction sector the boost it needs. For every €1 million invested in public housing, economic activity amounting to €6 million is generated”, he said, according to his data. (…).

Original story: El Mundo (by Jaime G. Treceño)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Blackstone Buys H&M & Carrefour’s Logistics Centres In Madrid

16 November 2016 – Expansión

The US fund Blackstone has become one of the largest owners of logistics assets in Spain and Europe. The investment fund has acquired two warehouses in Torrejón de Ardoz (Madrid) from the US property developer IDI Gazeley. The acquired assets have a combined surface area of 70,140 m2,

As a result of this operation, Blackstone has become the owner of a 23,500 m2 logistics centre that Carrefour inaugurated last year, as well as of a large logistics platform that H&M operates in Torrejón, which supplies all of its stores in Spain and Portugal. H&M signed a 24-year rental agreement for the centre in 2012, of which 15 years are mandatory. The centre has a surface area of more than 36,000 m2.

According to sources in the market, this batch of assets is worth around €30 million. The transaction forms part of a broader operation, which includes six warehouses with a surface area of more than 200,000 m2 across Spain and Italy.

These acquisitions will serve to strengthen Blackstone’s portfolio in Spain, where it already owns a portfolio containing thousands of homes, several office buildings and more than one million square metres of logistics space, controlled through its subsidiary Logicor.

Blackstone’s strategy is at odds with the approach being adopted by IDI, which is controlled by the real estate giant Brookfield Property and which is one of the largest owners of logistics assets in the world. It arrived in Spain in 2014 and is now unwinding its positions after it failed to achieve the results it had hoped for.

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake