Catalan Generalitat to Acquire Land in Tarragona

29 June 2019

The Regional Ministry announced that it would exercise its preemptive right to acquire the land where BCN World had been planned for construction. The Catalan government expecteds to pay more than 100 million euros to La Caixa for the property.

Investors have planned a series of different projects for the site, beginning with the Eurovegas megacasino and followed by and the Valencian company Veremonte’s BCN World.  The latest plans are for the Hard Rock Entertainment World (HREW). Construction on the €2-billion project had been slated for this month.

The investors behind the initiative, including the Generalitat, Value Retail, which owns La Roca Village) and the Benetton family had been complaining about their failure to receive the necessary permits to begin work on the project. However, reports have stated that the government firm Incasòl will acquire the land and transfer it to HREW.

Original Story: Crónica Global

Criteria Finalises the Purchase of a 8,000 m2 Building in 22@ for €35M

9 April 2019 – Eje Prime

InmoCaixa, the real estate arm of La Caixa’s holding company Criteria is finalising the purchase of a 8,000 m2 building located at number 331 Calle Llull, in the 22@ district of Barcelona.

The building is managed by the German fund manager GLL and the purchase price is reported to amount to €35 million.

The property is currently leased in its entirety, mostly to Torraspapel, the paper company belonging to the Lecta group, which occupies 7,000 m2.

Original story: Eje Prime 

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Sareb Sells a Residential Asset in Barcelona for €2M

23 January 2019 – Idealista

Sareb is divesting more assets in Cataluña. The company, in which the State owns a 45% stake, has sold a residential building in Hospitalet de Llobregat, in Barcelona, for €2 million. The buyer is a Catalan family office and the operation has been financed by La Caixa.

The building, located in Collblanc, used to be occupied illegally, but has subsequently been renovated and fitted out to house residential homes. The operation has been brokered by Mercat Inmobiliari.

The building has a surface area of 1,800 m2 comprising housing and parking distributed over four above-ground floors plus a basement, ground floor and mezzanine level. In recent months, Mercat Inmobiliari has also closed the sale of two buildings in Palma de Mallorca to the fund Mediterranean Capital for their conversion into holiday homes. Those two assets also used to be owned by the public-private entity (Sareb).

Sareb is finalising several options to get rid of its assets. One possibility includes the creation of a fund with a property developer, to which it would contribute land worth more than €800 million for the development of new build homes.

Moreover, the company is sounding out the market to sign agreements with specialist companies to convert its plots into buildable sites. Sareb owns land in Spain worth €5 billion, but almost half of the plots lack building permission.

Original story: Idealista (by Custodio Pareja)

Translation: Carmel Drake

CPPIB, doBank & Haya Compete for Altamira

14 November 2018 – Cinco Días

The sector of real estate servicers for assets proceeding from the banks is in flux. The latest process in the market to catch the attention of major funds and operators in the sector involves Altamira, the firm controlled by the manager Apollo, which owns 85% of the company, and Santander (15%). The first entity to make a major bid has been its competitor Haya Real Estate (owned by Cerberus), as published by Cinco Días on 8 November. That offer has now been joined by one from CPPIB, the Canadian Pensions Fund and one of the largest investors in the world.

Another player interested in Altamira Asset Management, according to financial sources, is the Italian firm doBank, formerly UniCredit Credit Management. That listed entity is controlled by Fortress. It is the largest doubtful loan manager in the transalpine country. Meanwhile, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) is a fund that manages the pensions of 20 million Canadian people, with assets worth €245.7 billion.

Altamira was created by Santander as a servicer for its toxic assets linked to property. In 2013, the bank sold 85% of the entity to the US fund for just under €700 million. Five years later, the manager from New York, which has not managed to star in any of the major bank portfolio purchases, has decided to exit the company. The amount of the operation, a sales process that has been entrusted to Goldman Sachs, is expected to exceed €600 million.

Altamira has become one of the large managers of financial and real estate assets in Spain, with a total volume of assets under management of €53.8 billion compared with €26 billion at the end of 2014, and with more than 82,000 properties, on behalf of around fifteen clients.

In recent months, there has been significant movement in the shareholders of these servicers, in large part linked to the sale of the bank portfolios. If Cerberus, through Haya, manages to acquire Altamira, it will be the third entity that the US fund controls, after Haya and Divarian (formerly Anida, linked to BBVA). The idea of the fund is to integrate it with Haya to relaunch that firm’s debut on the stock market, as reported by this newspaper. Blackstone, in turn, controls Aliseda (previously owned by Popular) and Anticipa. Lone Star acquired Servihabitat (formerly owned by La Caixa) this summer, and Sabadell has also put Solvia up for sale, another servicer that also interests Cerberus.

Original story: Cinco Días (by Alfonso Simón Ruiz & Pablo Martín Simón)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Cerberus Plans to Create a Real Estate Giant by Acquiring Altamira & Solvia

10 November 2018 – Expansión

Cerberus is increasing its commitment to the Spanish real estate market. The US fund is the favourite candidate to take over the reins at Altamira, the manager of property loans and foreclosed real estate assets currently owned by Apollo and Santander. Moreover, Cerberus is battling it out with the fund Lindorff (now Intrum) and other investors to purchase Solvia.

As Expansión revealed on 8 October, Apollo renewed its contract with the investment bank Goldman Sachs at the beginning of the summer and distributed the teaser (the sales document containing a general description) to potential interested parties to dispose of this asset for between €500 million and €600 million. Although it is not alone in the process, Cerberus is the candidate that has the best chance of acquiring that company.

But Cerberus is not going to settle for that asset only. Financial sources assure that the US fund is also bidding for Solvia, in a process in which it is also competing with Lindorff. The CEO of Sabadell, Jaume Guardiola, noted, during the presentation of the results on 26 October, the “good appetite” in the market for Solvia, “whose sale will close “soon”. He whereby confirmed the sale of Solvia Servicios Inmobiliarios (SSI) and Solvia Desarrollos Inmobiliarios (SDI). For the sale of SSI, in which it is being advised by Alantra, the bank hopes to receive up to €400 million.

Concentration of the market

If Cerberus ends up being the winner of both processes, it will become the clear leader of the servicer sector and a proponent of concentration between the servicers. These companies, created from the former real estate subsidiaries of the banks, have become some of the stars of the new real estate cycle.

Currently, almost all of the assets under management of the banks are in the hands of a few companies such as Altamira, Servihabitat, Haya Real Estate, Aliseda, Anticipa, Solvia and Divarian (previously Anida). These firms are mainly responsible for the management and recovery of debt and transformation of loan obligations into foreclosed real estate assets, as well as the sale and rental of assets.

If Cerberus ends up taking control of Altamira and Solvia, it will control almost 65% of the market for servicers, which will allow it to mark a differentiation in its strategy. Currently, the US fund controls Haya Real Estate, one of the large servicers with €40 billion in assets under management. Moreover, it took over the reins at Anida, which was in the hands of BBVA, and which manages €13 billion.

If it adds Altamira and Solvia to its portfolio, the volume of assets under management will soar to €138.9 billion, with a market share in the servicer segment of 65%. According to numbers managed by the consultancy firm Axis, the other two dominant funds are Blackstone, with Anticipa and Aliseda (also from Santander) and LoneStar, which controls Servihabitat after purchasing that company from La Caixa in the summer.

Other assets

In addition to the servicers, Cerberus is also the owner of the property developer Inmoglacier; the online estate agency between individuals Housell; and the debt recovery company Gescobro (…).

Original story: Expansión (by R.Arroyo and D.Badía)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Henderson Park Acquires Gran Vía 43 in Madrid

23 October 2018 – Eje Prime

The European real estate fund Henderson Park is expanding its portfolio of assets in Madrid. The group has acquired number 43 Gran Vía in Madrid, an asset located in the centre of the Spanish capital, which combines office space and commercial premises, from Mutualidad General de la Abogacía, the Spanish insurance company for lawyers.

For the acquisition operation, Henderson Park has obtained senior financing amounting for €39 million from La Caixa, according to explanations provided by the company. The building, which spans 7,347 m2, comprises 11 floors – the lower two are dedicated to commercial space and the rest to offices. Currently, the asset is leased to seven tenants.

This is Henderson Park’s third acquisition in Spain, and its second in Madrid, following the purchase of the Los Cubos office building in 2017. and of a plot of land in the 22@ district of Barcelona the same year, for the construction of a hall of residence for students that will comprise 750 rooms.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Criteria Raises the Price of the Plots for Hard Rock Café Complex in Tarragona

8 October 2018 – El Confidencial

Criteria, the holding company of the investment companies owned by La Caixa, has increased the price of the plots on which Hard Rock Café Entertainment World is set to be built. The new leisure and casino complex is due to be constructed in Tarragona, next to Port Aventura. That is according to explanations provided by sources in the real estate sector to justify the delay in the project, formerly BCN World, which constitutes the largest foreign investment pending in Cataluña and which will involve the disbursement of €2 billion in total.

Criteria had closed an option to sell the land worth €110 million. But that was in December 2014. Now that Hard Rock Café, a multinational from the United States of America specialising in hotel and restaurant complexes linked to casinos, wants to exercise the option, Criteria is claiming that the real estate market has recovered in the last four years and so the price needs to be updated.

Sources at Criteria declined to comment but other sources in the real estate sector explained that a new due diligence process is being carried out to determine the magnitude of the price increase. The new price is expected to amount to around €140 million, a claim that has been rejected wholeheartedly by the Hard Rock Café, which alleges, and rightly so, that the delays incurred by the project (…) which now amount to more than three years, cannot be attributed to the company.

According to the original plan, the project should have been ready by 2015. But, partly due to the withdrawal of investments, and partly due to the political instability in Cataluña, the complex has suffered various delays.

Hard Rock Café is the only company that survived the bidding process for the gambling licences and is now the main party responsible for developing the complex. The forecast investment in Tarragona amounts to €2 billion for the construction of Hard Rock Entertainment World, which will have two hotels and 1,100 rooms, a shopping area with 75 shops – which will be operated by the British giant Value Retail, owner of Las Rozas and La Roca – and a 10,000 m2 casino. The project is expected to create more than 11,000 jobs and will be carried out in phases: the first amounting to €600 million.

When the initial investor withdrew, which was led by the businessman Enrique Bañuelos, La Generalitat subrogated the option to purchase the land, as a way of ensuring the continuity of the project. But that operation is neutral. La Generalitat would only perform a transfer and the final investor would have to pay the price of the plots. The Administration does not want to assume the surcharge that the new valuation would now result in.

Different positions

Each party defends its position. For Hard Rock Café, it cannot make its company or the other investors responsible for the delays incurred and therefore, does not want to assume the additional cost.

Meanwhile, Criteria has renewed the sale option, which had a term of 18 months, on up to four occasions to ensure that the investment would not go to waste, and considers that its efforts should also be rewarded.

An agreement must be reached between the parties soon (…). This project is key for Cataluña and will only serve to turn around the foreign investment figures that have been negative for the Catalan Administration since the independence process entered its critical phase.

Licence in May

In May 2018, Hard Rock Café obtained the licence for the project, which includes the gambling licence for the casino, granted by La Generalitat. That administrative permit arrived a year late due to the political instability in Cataluña. Now, Hard Rock Café, which is owned by a tribe of Seminole Indians (Florida) has three years to submit its plans. La Generalitat expects the building work to begin in 2019. The negotiations with Criteria could mean more delays if the positions fester, warn sources in the real estate sector.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Marcos Lamelas)

Translation: Carmel Drake

La Caixa’s Subsidiary Inmo Criteria Negotiates Purchase of Tertiary Plot in 22@

6 June 2018 – Eje Prime

More and more operations are being negotiated in the 22@ district of Barcelona. The latest to join the party is La Caixa, which, through its real estate subsidiary Inmo Criteria, is negotiating the purchase of a plot in 22@ on which it plans to build two office buildings with an above ground surface area of 27,000 m2, according to sources close to the operation speaking to Eje Prime. Although no more details have been disclosed at this stage, the price of the operation could amount to €34 million and will have also caught the attention of another group, namely Glenwell Group, which specialises in opportunities in the Spanish real estate sector, according to the same sources.

Nevertheless, Inmo Criteria is the best-positioned player to acquire this plot. If the operation goes ahead, then the real estate arm of La Caixa will acquire a plot of land located on the block of Calle Ávila y Badajoz, where two buildings are planned, spanning 14,500 m2 and 12,500 m2, respectively. The plots are owned by several owners, including the Miette Group, which declined to comment on the negotiation process.

According to sources close to the operation, the price being considered for the purchase of this land is, approximately, €1,250/m2, which would mean that for 27,000 m2, the buyer could end up spending between €33 million and €34 million. If Inmo Criteria does acquire the plot, it will carry out the promotion and marketing of the offices and will entrust the construction work to a third party, like a large number of groups in the sector do, such as Colonial for example.

Inmo Criteria is the owner of a portfolio of properties with a net value of €2.8 billion, of which €505 million are classified as available-for-sale, €605 million as rental properties, €1,146 million as land and €557 million dedicated to affordable housing programs. The portfolio of properties is managed by InmoCaixa, a company that belongs 100% to CriteriaCaixa (…).

Land in 22@ is highly sought-after

Land in 22@ has attracted attention from a large number of operators, who have invested in the district to promote new residential and office buildings. One example is La Llave de Oro, which signed the purchase of a plot measuring 3,330 m2 in the 22@ district of Barcelona in April for €22 million. On that plot, which had been owned by Metrovacesa, the group plans to build 17,400 m2 of offices (…).

Original story: Eje Prime (by Custodio Pareja)

Translation: Carmel Drake

La Caixa Finalises its Purchase of 49.9% of Saba for €900M

6 June 2018 – Expansión

Criteria is planning to acquire 100% of the parking lot group, which has itself closed several operations in recent months, resulting in the addition of almost 15,000 parking spaces to its portfolio.

Reorganisation between the shareholders of Saba, the parking lot group controlled by Criteria (50.1%), the industrial holding company of la Caixa, and in which Torreal (20%), KKR (18.2%) and ProA (10.5%) hold stakes, along with 3,000 minority shareholders (1.2%).

Criteria is finalising the acquisition of the remaining 49.9% that it does not yet own in Saba for €900 million, according to sources in the infrastructure sector. It remains to be seen whether this operation will be completed in time to be approved at the Ordinary General Shareholders’ Meeting, which is scheduled to be held next Tuesday, 12 June. The celebration of the assembly had been postponed from 9 May precisely for the purpose of signing the deal that will see Criteria take complete control over the group chaired by Salvador Alemany.

The agenda for Saba’s General Shareholders’ Meeting includes the ratification and appointment of the company’s directors. In the event that the takeover does not take place, the most feasible option would be for another General Shareholders’ Meeting to be convened, but in that case an Extraordinary one.

The price at which Saba had been valued initially amounted to around €1.4 billion for 100% of the Catalan company, based on a multiplier of around 14 times its EBITDA in 2016. Saba’s accounts for 2017 have not been published yet, pending the General Shareholders’ Meeting next week, but a slight increase is expected both in turnover and profits, boosted by the strong performance of the firm in countries such as Portugal. In 2016, the company recorded a comparable gross profit of €94 million after generating revenues of €205 million, 66% of which were recorded in Spain.

Original story: Expansión (by M. Á. Patiño, A. Zañón & C. Morán)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Banco Sabadell Finalises Purchase of the Planeta Building in Barcelona

24 May 2018 – Eje Prime

Firstly, some of the tenants vacated Edificio Planeta and now the property itself looks set to change hands. The iconic asset belonging to the Lara family, owner of the publishing group that gives it its name, located in the centre of Barcelona, is very close to ending up in the hands of Banco Sabadell.

The Spanish bank is finalising the purchase of the building, taking advantage of the debt restructuring process that the Hemisferio group is currently undertaking. Moreover, in this regard, Sabadell may have required the resignation of José Lara García as director, according to La Vanguardia.

Owned by Planeta since 2001, the property will lose the multinational publicity group McCann as a tenant on 31 May; that firm is moving to a newly renovated building in the most sought-after business centre of the Catalan capital, 22@, as reported by Eje Prime.

Constructed in 1979, Edificio Planeta, which cost the publishing group €100 million, is the fruit of work by the architects Tous and Fargas, who received the commission from Banco Industrial de Catalunya. Its surface area of 26,000 m2, spread over three octagonal towers, will form part of Sabadell’s portfolio. As such, the entity will acquire an asset situated very close to the towers of its competitor, La Caixa.

Original story: Eje Prime 

Translation: Carmel Drake