Urbas’s Share Price Soars by 44% After Appointment of New President

16 January 2019 – Eje Prime

Urbas Grupo Financiero saw its share price skyrocket on the stock market after appointing its new President. The company closed the day with gains of more than 44% on the main stock market, its largest daily increase since March 2016. The rise coincided with the arrival of Juan Antonio Acedo Fernández as the head of the company.

Specifically, the share price of Urbas skyrocketed by 44.18% on Wednesday to €0.0062, after opening the day at €0.043 per share. That boost took the company to levels not seen since October last year, according to reports from Europa Press.

A road engineer by background, the new President of Urbas has more than 25 years of experience in the real estate, construction and energy sectors, “where he has held several positions of maximum responsibility”, highlighted the company in a statement sent today to Spain’s National Securities Market Commission (CNMV).

At the end of the ninth month of 2018, Urbas owned a land portfolio spanning 18 million m2, spread over the regions of Aragón, Andalucía, Madrid, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León, Murcia and Valencia. Currently, the company’s assets are valued at €34.8 million.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Habitat Completes the Purchase of 4 Plots of Land for €14M

21 December 2018 – Eje Prime

Habitat is also going Christmas shopping. The property developer, in which Bain Capital holds a stake, is going to complete the acquisition of four plots of land next week, with a combined investment of €14 million, according to a statement from José Carlos Saz (pictured below), the CEO of the company, speaking to Eje Prime.

With these transactions, the company is planning to end the year with €127 million of investment in the acquisition of buildable land for the construction of 2,800 homes. “We have exceeded the forecasts that we announced in October”, said the Executive, who also added that the company has focused its efforts beyond “the areas where everyone else is building, such as the Costa del Sol, Madrid and Levante”, especially during the final stage of the year.

Proof of that includes two of its latest land purchases: one in Sevilla, announced yesterday and involving the acquisition of two plots, and the other in Oviedo, which has resulted in the company’s debut in Asturias. “We have no predilection for any city or region in particular, rather we expand to wherever there is demand and we can generate returns on our investment”, said the director.

Rigour and realism are the two factors that are governing this new phase for the property developer, which starred in Spain’s second largest bankruptcy proceeding in 2008. “The arrival of Bain Capital has represented a critical boost for the re-launch of the company”, confessed Saz. In fact, the company aims to invest €500 million in the purchase of land across the country between now and 2021.

Despite the property developer’s ambitious plans, its CEO clarified that its objectives do not include “becoming one of the largest firms” or being the company that sells the most homes. In this sense, the executive confirmed that “under no circumstances”, does his firm want to return to having a workforce of 900 workers, like it did with the first Habitat. For Saz, the ideal team would comprise around 130 people, 77 of which have already been recruited during 2018.

Similarly, expansion into Portugal does not form one of the company’s objectives either. In fact, Habitat has opted for a policy of divesting the assets located overseas that it inherited from its first phase.

Challenges (…)

For  José Carlos Saz, the major challenges facing the property developer sector at the moment are the lack of buildable land, the increase in construction costs and the need to finish professionalising and standardising the industry (…).

By the end of 2018, Habitat’s land portfolio will comprise a surface area of 1.1 million m2, with capacity for the construction of 10,000 homes. Currently, the company has 33 developments under construction, corresponding to 3,000 homes in total. Of those, 800 units are in the construction phase and the rest are in the planning phase. This year, the company has started to market 1,700 homes and has handed over 270 residential assets distributed across three developments.

Original story: Eje Prime (by Berta Seijo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Metrovacesa to Invest €40M in the Construction of 180 New Homes in Córdoba

27 November 2018 – Eje Prime

Metrovacesa has already set up its first cranes in Córdoba. The Spanish property developer has started work on the Las Terrazas de Poniente Sur Residential complex, the first in a series of three projects that the company has underway in the city. In total, the real estate firm is going to build more than 180 homes, with an investment of €40 million in the capital of the Andalucian province.

The company is going to build 120 homes in its first development in Córdoba. On that site, located in the Parque Cruz Conde neighbourhood, the company is going to build flats with between one and five bedrooms, in a building comprising a ground floor and six upper floors. In the common areas, the development will have an outdoor swimming pool, a padel court, a garden and a children’s playground.

Metrovacesa’s commitment to the Andalucían city reflects the fact that Córdoba is “one of the Spanish cities with the highest demand for residential properties at the moment”, said the property developer in a statement.

Besides the Las Terrazas de Poniente Sur Residential development, the company is already marketing Villas de Alhakén, a development comprising 21 single-family homes in the El Brillante neighbourhood. Meanwhile, it is finalising matters to obtain the urban planning licence for Mirador de la Albaida, a residential development comprising forty homes, which will have views of the mountains in Córdoba.

Commitment to Andalucía 

The start of the work in Córdoba is strengthening Metrovacesa’s commitment to Andalucía, where 45% of the company’s land portfolio is located. In Eastern Andalucía alone, the property developer has land on which to build 6,000 homes, of which 4,000 units will be promoted along the Costa del Sol.

The objective of the property developer over the medium term is to generate revenues of €1 billion by 2020, and to increase that figure to €1.5 billion over the following years, according to sources speaking to EjePrime.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Quabit Conducts a €63M Capital Increase

18 May 2018 – Expansión

Quabit has completed, with an over-subscription, the €63 million capital increase through which it plans to raise funds to execute its Business Plan for 2022. The new shares are expected to start trading on 31 May.

The property developer received subscription orders for €62 million, more than 98% of the total, during the preferential subscription period. Moreover, during the period for the assignation of additional shares, requests were made for €53 million, which will be limited to just over €1 million on a pro-rata basis.

The property developer, which will increase its share capital by issuing 7 new shares for every 22 existing shares, has set the final subscription price at €1.80. The company’s shares closed trading yesterday at €2.095, 0.96% higher. “The excellent result confirms the confidence that the markets have in Quabit and is a resounding endorsement of our growth strategy”, said Félix Abánades, Chairman of Quabit (pictured above).

Quabit owns a portfolio of land spanning more than 1 million m2 for the construction of around 9,000 homes.

Original story: Expansión (by R. A.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Kronos to Invest Another €500M by 2021 to Become the New Real Estate King

16 May 2018 – Press Release

The real estate developer created by a former director of Fortress now owns a  land portfolio spanning more than 1 million m2 for the construction of 8,000 homes.

Led by the investment manager Kronos, the real estate company Kronos Homes has become one of the largest property developers in the country, in just four years, with a land portfolio that exceeds 1 million m2.

Saïd Hejal leads the company. The Parisian founded Kronos in 2014, after several years studying the Spanish market from London as the head of one of Fortress’s investment funds. “I was in charge of investments in Southern Europe (Portugal, Spain, Greece and France) for Fortress, with a particular focus on Spain from 2012 onwards. We chose Spain because we believed that it was the market with the greatest future growth potential with respect to the other European countries”, explains Hejal, Managing Partner of Kronos.

Unlike other investors, the former executive of Fortress opted to create his own property developer and grow it to become one of the largest landowners in the country. “I have worked for years in the US, and there, the property developers were focused on design; in Spain, we saw the opportunity to create a company based on design, that’s why we chose to create a company, with a new image, rather than acquiring an existing one”.

To carry out this project, Hejal went to a group of investors who, through Kronos Asset Management, put together the funds to create the Spanish developer. “Kronos is the owner of Kronos Homes, the brand of the residential developer. We have an office in London since most of our investors are based all over Europe; they are family offices and global investors. In total, we have around 15 investors, who arrived after the company was created, although the family that founded Kronos is also still with us”, explains.

Since its creation, Kronos Homes has invested €500 million in the purchase of land. “We have a portfolio spanning 1 million m2, which will allow us to develop 8,000 homes. The plots are located in Madrid, Cataluña, Costa del Sol and Alicante. Now we are entering some of Spain’s large capitals such as Córdoba, Sevilla, Tarragona and Cadiz”, says Hejal who predicts more new acquisitions. “We plan to invest another €500 million over the next 24 to 36 months”.

To this end, Kronos is backing the selective purchase of land. “We have acquired two thirds of our current portfolio from banks and the other third from developers; we have also completed several operations with Sareb and we will continue to work in this way”.

Thus, he rules out the possibility of corporate operations, giving priority to organic growth. “We are not interested in buying other companies. Such deals typically involve very difficult processes, combining corporate cultures and requiring a lot of time for integration.”

Kronos closed 2017 with 500 homes sold, among their developments in Madrid, Barcelona, Costa del Sol and Alicante. “2017 was quite a good year, better than expected, and 2018 is going very well, too. We have some very expensive projects and others that are more affordable. Our cheapest house costs around €145,000 and the most expensive, €2 million. The latter is a spectacular project in Estepona (Málaga), designed by Rafael de La-Hoz”.

“Our typical customers are first-time buyers, who have budgets of between €300,000 and €400,000.”

Stock market

Unlike other investors, the head of Kronos Homes is not planning to debut his firm on the Stock Exchange – “we are not interested, there are too many distractions”, he says – but he does plan stay with the company for many years. “Our plans in Spain are long term, we have already developed ten projects, this year we will deliver more than a hundred homes (133) and launch six new promotions. In 2019, we will launch another 20, including a project in Valencia that will be the tallest residential building in the city, with 34 floors”.

The plans of Kronos coincide with other ambitious bets from property developers such as Aedas, Vía Célere and Metrovacesa. “I think it is good that there is competition, it is healthy and positive for the consumer. We have positioned ourselves in a certain niche, with a focus on design and architecture, and that is what makes us different.”

Original story: Press Release

Edited by: Carmel Drake

ASG Homes Is Planning to Build 10,000 Homes in Spain

9 April 2018 – Cinco Días

Metrovacesa, Aedas, Neinor, Vía Célere, Aelca… they are the everyday names of the new players that are reviving the house building sector following the real estate crisis. They are the companies that have stolen the limelight thanks to their ambitious plans and the return of these kinds of businesses to the stock market. But there is a quieter successor that is silently gathering a giant portfolio of land and with some ambitious plans of its own in the residential development sector. The company in question is ASG Homes, backed by the British fund manager ASG Capital Management and its subsidiary ASG Iberia.

Recently, the initiative has been baptised ASG Homes, the brand that will reach out to potential homebuyers. That will be the logo that clients will see when they visit one of the developments. Behind the brand is the ASG Iberia team, which in recent years has been acquiring a collection of plots in different provinces across Spain to accumulate 500,000 m2 of land in total, one of the largest portfolios in the country.

“We are the great dark horse”, recognises Víctor Pérez Arias, CEO of ASG Homes for Spain and Portugal. The current portfolio of land gives the company the possibility of building 5,000 homes. “The aspiration is to double our existing capacity”, he adds. That means investing more over the coming months to accumulate a portfolio with the potential for the construction of 10,000 homes. To date, the company has invested €400 million of its own funds to obtain its current land portfolio.

The property developer focuses on operations involving the purchase of debt with real estate collateral and on complex situations to reduce the prices it pays. Precisely for those reasons, the company rules out competitive tenders for acquiring land.

Currently, its plots are located in Valencia, Alicante, Málaga, Costa del Sol, Madrid, Salamanca and Sevilla. Specifically, in the Andalucían capital, the company is already planning to build 1,100 homes. So far, it has not entered the market in Barcelona, above all because prices are high in the city, but it does not rule out future opportunities.

Based on data provided by the companies, ASG is positioned in fifth place in the ranking of property developers planning to build the most homes, with around 2,000 units in the pipeline. It comes in behind only Neinor, Metrovacesa, Aelca and Amenabar.

Moreover, this year, the property developer plans to sell 1,500 new homes and hand over 500 homes to its clients. The market is looking at all of these new companies with a magnifying glass, above all of those that are listed on the stock market, to check whether they are capable of fulfilling their plans. Pérez Arias says that the company is already handing over its first developments in Alicante.

In Spain, these types of international funds have starred in the recovery of the house building sector, either through the creation of new property developers, such as in the case of ASG, or by refloating companies with problems.

The new property developers include Neinor, backed initially by Lone Star, after it purchased Kutxabank’s real estate business for €935 million. It was the first property developer to debut on the stock market in more than a decade and its main shareholder has already collected its profits after selling all of its share on the market.

It was followed on the stock market by Aedas Homes, backed by Castlelake. The 100-year old Metrovacesa also returned to the stock exchange, in that case, led by Santander and BBVA. Moreover, the fund Värde has two property developers that are currently sounding out the same path (Aelca and Vía Célere). In turn, Baupost has created Q21 Real Estate. Cerberus has also acquired the historical Inmoglacier and in the same vein, Bain Capital has purchased Habitat. Another example is the alliance between Gestilar and Morgan Stanley.

Original story: Cinco Días (by Alfonso Simón Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Goldmans & Oaktree to Bid for €100M Land Portfolio that Iberdrola will Auction on 28 Feb

22 February 2018 – Voz Pópuli

On Wednesday 28 February, Goldman Sachs and Oaktree are scheduled to submit binding offers for a portfolio of land owned by Iberdrola Inmobiliaria. The subsidiary of the multinational energy company has thus started one of its largest asset sales processes in recent years, coinciding with the recovery of the sector and the voracious appetite shown by international funds for land in the Spanish market.

The two US investment banks have expressed their interest in what is considered, in the Spanish real estate sector, to be a very good portfolio of land. It is ready for the construction of more than one thousand homes in locations such as Madrid, Málaga and Granada (more than half), as well as Navarra, Salamanca, Murcia, Cantabria and Valencia. The valuation of the plots amounts to around €100 million, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

The sources consulted warn that if the offers prove to be unsatisfactory, the door will be opened to other investment funds “who are queuing up to participate in the operation”. In total, the plots, owned by the subsidiary of the group chaired by Ignacio Sánchez Galán, that have been put up for sale span a buildable surface area of 126,000 m2.

Iberdrola Inmobiliaria, with which Vozpópuli made contact yesterday, denies the existence of this operation. Nevertheless, two different sources consulted by this newspaper confirm that Banco Sabadell is also participating in the process. According to the sources, Solvia Desarrollos Inmobiliarios, the subsidiary of the financial institution, is going to create a joint venture with the buyer of the land to construct homes, whilst Iberdrola Inmobiliaria is expected to retain a minority stake in the new company.

The Spanish energy group created Iberdrola Inmobiliaria in 1991. The company managed to survive the greatest crisis in the history of the Spanish real estate sector – the one suffered following the burst of the bubble at the end of 2007 – and now owns a portfolio of assets worth more than €1.7 billion. Moreover, it is a highly respected manager in the sector.

Just before the start of the economic and financial crisis, Iberdrola Inmobiliaria undertook significant investments in projects in Spain, Mexico and Bulgaria. In 2015, Iberdrola injected €616.7 million into its real estate subsidiary through a capital increase of €154.2 million and the rest as an issue premium. In 2016, Iberdrola Inmobiliaria recorded revenues of €63.8 million and profits of €3.2 million, according to the latest accounts filed in the Mercantile Registry to which this newspaper has had access through Insight View.

According to those same accounts, the Board of Directors of Iberdrola Inmobiliaria, chaired by José Sainz Armada, led by Emilio Sánchez Castellano and in which Ignacio López del Hierro participates as director, did not receive any remuneration in 2016, but they were paid for out-of-pocket expenses amounting to €196,000 (€206,000 in 2015). The CEO and four other directors earned €1.25 million

Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Alberto Ortín)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Grupo Pinar & Baupost Agree Purchase of Levitt & Create New Property Developer Giant

19 February 2018 – El Confidencial

The most coveted property developer of recent times may change hands within the next few days. Levitt is holding advanced talks with Q21 Real Estate, a company created by the joining of forces between the former Grupo Pinar and the US fund Baupost, to close its sale this week and, in any case, before the end of February, according to several sources familiar with the operation.

The agreement will put an end to almost two years of to-ing and fro-ing with different interested parties in acquiring the property developer, a reference player in the market for premium homes, and will also create a new giant in the sector within the convulsive Spanish residential market.

As El Confidencial revealed, it was in 2016 when Levitt first started to listen to offers as a formula for dealing with its problem of generational succession, following the death of the group’s founder and alma mater, José María Bosch Aymerich, without any direct descendants.

Owner of one of the best land portfolios in Madrid, with land in locations such as Alcobendas, Las Rozas, Pozuelo and Boadilla del Monte, Levitt has proved tempting over the past two years for giants such as Goldman Sachs, Apollo, Värde and even the fund Baupost itself, which was on the verge of acquiring the property developer last year.

But on the home straight, those negotiations were called off due to differences over price, as well as over the continuity of the project and Levitt’s team. After closing that door, the fund found another window open through Q21, the property developer that has placed a better offer on the table than the one put forward by the US fund, and one that ensures the survival of Levitt.

Who is Q21?

Constituted in July 2014, Q21 Real Estate has a brand that is still new and a workforce of just 17 employees – both features have facilitated its agreement with Levitt, with which it shares its vision of high-quality developments.

Currently, Q21 has nine developments underway, mostly in the Community of Madrid (Boadilla del Monte, Valdebebas, Getafe and Mostoles), but also in Málaga and Valencia. Altogether, the firm is working on 1,500 homes.

With assets worth €6.3 million and net equity of €3.58 million in 2016 (the last year for which audited figures are available), Q21 generated revenues of €5.27 million, an operating profit of €3.5 million and a profit of €2.76 million.

Its numbers are well below those recorded by Levitt, whose turnover amounted to €62 million and net profit €6.3 million. Moreover, Levitt owns a portfolio worth €200 million, its brand is recognised in the market and its history spans almost fifty years in Spain after it arrived in 1971 to introduce the US residential urbanisation model.

Original story: El Confidencial (by R. Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sareb Seeks to Integrate its Residential Business into a Listed Property Developer

22 February 2018 – Cinco Días

Sareb has started on a road that it has not yet explored in its short life. The so-called bad bank is evaluating the possibility of entering the residential property development business with a bang, as it plans to team up with a partner in the sector, in exchange for providing land to a joint venture company. That is according to several sources familiar with the process that has reportedly just started.

According to the sources, Sareb has started a process to divest land and developments in progress for around €800 million, which would result in the largest transaction in the history of the entity.

But on this occasion, the managers of Sareb are seeking to use a new formula, which would involve it contributing land to the share capital of a large property developer, be it one that is already listed or one that is considering its market debut. In return, it would enter the residential property development business and benefit from the high profit margin generated by the house construction business.

The operation is in its initial phases and several sources explain that the size of the land portfolio that Sareb wants to put up for sale may still vary, as may the formula for entering the share capital of the real estate company that ends up winning the tender. Sources at the entity declined to comment.

In any case, Sareb would enter the share capital of the property developer with the final aim of the joint venture making its debut on the stock market, which would allow the bad bank to easily divest its stake in the market in the future, in the same way, for example, that Santander and BBVA have done in the case of Metrovacesa’s return to the stock market.

The intention of the entity is to enter as a minority shareholder, ceding the management, of one of the large real estate companies that are currently starring in the new upward cycle in terms of residential development.

This would be a very similar operation to the one carried out by Santander and BBVA with Metrovacesa. In recent years, the banks have been increasing the property developer’s portfolio by contributing land from their balance sheets in exchange for stakes in the company’s share capital. For example, in July last year, the two banks injected land worth €1.1 billion into Metrovacesa through a non-monetary capital increase.

According to the sources, entering the share capital of a property developer would allow Sareb to benefit from the upward cycle in the housing sector since that business generates high profit margins on the construction of homes, much greater than those generated on the simple sale of land portfolios.

The idea could be summarised by the integration of all of Sareb’s residential and land development business by a property developer, to gain a long-term partner.

Only a limited number of candidates have been invited to participate in the process to become Sareb’s strategic ally, around six potential partners, according to the sources.

The perimeter of the assets, worth around €800 million, would make the operation the largest undertaken by the entity chaired by Jaime Echegoyen (pictured above). Until now, the largest direct sale was the so-called Eloise portfolio, which was acquired by Goldman Sachs, for €553 million. Initially, Sareb even considered a larger contribution of land, worth up to €1.2 billion, but the experts consider that such a volume would be too difficult for any partner to digest.

In fact, the candidates to integrate Sareb’s assets are very limited because of the volume of the operation. All sights are set on the large listed companies in the sector, such as Neinor, Aedas and Metrovacesa, as well as on the other property developers that are backed by international funds, which are not currently trading on the stock market. In the case of the latter, the formula whereby that company ends up on the market would have to be analysed to facilitate the liquidity that would allow Sareb to divest over the medium term. In that case, the list is much more extensive: Aelca (Värde), Vía Célere (Värde), Gestilar (Morgan Stanley), Q21 Real Estate (Baupost), Inmoglacier (Cerberus), Habitat (Bain Capital) and ASG Iberia (Activum).

In terms of the timings fixed by the entity, the sources indicate that the operation will be closed before the summer, although they acknowledge the difficulty of the process to complete the finishing touches of the negotiations to find a strategic partner.

According to sources in the sector, the timings may also be determined by Sareb’s intention to pre-empt other major land operations that are expected to take place over the next few months.

Such is the case of Blackstone, which acquired 51% of Popular’s property portfolio, assets worth around €10 billion. Cerberus is also expected to be active in the market, through Haya Real Estate and Anida – after acquiring 80% of BBVA’s portfolio worth €5 billion – and, finally, Bain Capital, with Liberbank’s property.

Original story: Cinco Días (by Alfonso Simón Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Vía Célere Invested €227M in 2017 Buying 473,000 m2 of Land

5 February 2018 – Eje Prime

The property developer led by Juan Antonio Gómez-Pintado accelerated its pace in 2017. By the end of the year, Vía Célere had invested in land purchases amounting to €227 million, whereby increasing the surface area of the company’s buildable land portfolio by 473,000 m2.

With its stock market debut looming, the company also closed some high-profile corporate operations last year, such as the integration of Dos Puntos into the group, in which the US fund Värde Partners has held a stake for a year, and the carve-out of its property business.

Vía Célere’s portfolio of land for residential construction now spans 1.43 million m2. With these plots, the property developer has the capacity to build 12,200 homes in Spain over the next few years.

The most recent purchases made by the real estate company in this field were in Barcelona, A Coruña and Ibiza. The investment on the White Island was the first to be made by the company in that area of the Balearics.

By region, besides the provinces already mentioned, Vía Célere closed land purchase operations in 2017 in provinces such as Madrid, Sevilla, Valladolid and Girona. During the course of its ten-year life, Vía Célere has handed over more than 2,300 homes, a figure that, in light of the business plan launched, it is seeking to increase to 10,000 units over the next two years.

Original story: Eje Prime 

Translation: Carmel Drake