Criteria to Make a Decision Regarding the Remaining 49% Stake in Saba on 24 May

23 May 2018 – Expansión 

Tomorrow (Thursday 24 May), the Board of Directors of Criteria, the investment arm of La Caixa, will make a decision regarding the future of Saba, the parking lot group of which it is a controlling shareholder, with a 51% stake. Criteria must decide whether to purchase the remaining 49% share capital currently in the hands of KKR, Torreal and ProA Capital or, by contrast, accept an offer for the purchase of 100% of the company chaired by Salvador Alemany.

According to sources close to the operation, Criteria’s position will be to emerge as the buyer, once the economic estimate of the asset has been made known, whose valuation ranges between €1.2 billion and €1.4 billion.

The investment by La Caixa’s industrial holding company will put an end to the period of uncertainty that the company has been experiencing since Torreal (20%), KKR (18.5%) and ProA (10.5%) agreed to sell their combined 49% stake in a coordinated way more than a year ago. Saba’s minority shareholders have forced this outcome. According to the shareholders’ agreements, the drag-along clause was activated in May, which means that any of the shareholders may require the sale of 100% of the company. KKR, ProA and Torreal notified La Caixa of their intention to find a buyer. According to sources consulted, Criteria has expressed its willingness to buy at the estimated prices. Several funds have also expressed their interest in Saba. As Expansión revealed in November 2017, Arcus was one of the first funds to propose an agreement. In the market, sources also point to Macquarie, which purchased Empark last year.

For Criteria, which has declined to comment, the investment in Saba would represent its first major buy-side move since it sold 10% of Gas Natural Fenosa to the fund GIP in 2016 for around €1.8 billion and following its exit this month from Abertis, after accepting the joint takeover bid presented by ACS and Atlantia. For its 18% stake in the highway group, Criteria has received more than €3 billion, which it will use to fund new investments.

The conversations have accelerated in recent weeks to the point that Saba had to postpone its General Shareholders’ Meeting. Originally, it had been convened for 9 May, but it has been postponed until 12 June pending an agreement between the shareholders.

Original story: Expansión (by C.M., M.P.L. and A.Z.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Ardian Places Indigo Sale On Hold after Raising €700M in Debt

4 May 2018 – Expansión

Ardian and its partner Predica (Credit Agricole) have decided to put on hold the sale of their parking lot subsidiary Indigo, one of the giants in the European sector with significant interests in Spain. The shareholders, which have been looking at various options for their investment over the last year, have opted to re-leverage the company in the end, with a €700 million bond issue, which will be used to refinance some of the debt that expires in 2020, and also, to distribute an extraordinary dividend to shareholders.

With this move, the possible sale of the former VinciPark has been put on hold, after Ardian went off the idea of divestment in 2017 when it did not obtain satisfactory offers for the asset. According to sources close to the operation, Indigo’s shareholders were left with three options: put the “for sale” sign back up; re-leverage the company and distribute an extraordinary dividend to the shareholders; or encourage a merger agreement with other parking lot groups.

Until a few weeks ago, all three options were on the table. One of the possibilities involved exploring an alliance with the Spanish firm Saba. The parking lot group controlled by Criteria (La Caixa) is also undergoing a process of transformation after the decision was taken by its minority shareholders, which together hold a 49% stake, to exit the company. That round of contact did not prosper and Indigo decided to begin the procedure to launch a macro debt issue, which took place on 12 April.

Sources in the sector believe that a merger between Saba and Indigo would have business logic given the minimal overlap and their capacity to form a group with sufficient critical mass to explore a stock market listing. Trading on the stock market has always been the ultimate dream of Saba’s founding partners. By contrast, Ardian avoids investments in listed groups (…).

Indigo is, together with Qpark and Apcoa, the largest parking lot group in Europe. According to the latest available figures, the company recorded turnover of €897 million in 2017, with an EBITDA of €310 million. The company’s net financial debt amounts to €1.666 billion. Saba and Empark also feature in Europe’s Top 8 ranking of the largest parking lot groups, but their turnover figures are significantly lower than those of Indigo and QPark.

According to experts, another factor that would contribute to accelerating the corporate movements in the sector is the ownership structure. The giants in the sector are owned by investment funds and private equity firms with a relative dearth of long-term investors. QPark is controlled by KKR, whilst the German firm Apcoa is owned by Centerbridge. Ardian controls Indigo and Macquarie is the new owner of Empark. Saba is the only company with an industrial shareholder – Criteria – and a long-term interest (…).

Although not its largest market, Indigo conducts significant business in Spain. Revenues amounted to €41 million in 2017, with an EBITDA of almost €20 million. It is Indigo’s third largest market in Europe, after France and the United Kingdom. The outlook for Spain is positive. According to the consultancy firm DBK, revenues from the rental of parking spaces (…) in Spain and Portugal amounted to €1.145 billion in 2017, which represented an increase of 3.8% with respect to the previous year. In 2016, that figure grew by 4.5%.

Original story: Expansión (by C. Morán)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Torreal, KKR & ProA May Force La Caixa To Sell 100% Of Saba

10 November 2017 – Expansión

The European parking lot market is at boiling point. Following the sale of Empark earlier this year to the Australian fund Macquarie, now comes the turn of Saba, the other Spanish leader in the sector, controlled by Criteria (La Caixa). According to financial sources consulted, the firms KKR, Torreal and ProA, which together own 49% of the company, have resumed the plan to sell their shares. Unlike in previous processes, on this occasion, the conversations with investors revolve around the sale of 100% of the company, given that, by agreement between the shareholders, they may force La Caixa to sell its controlling 50.1% stake.

According to preliminary estimates, the valuation of the company could reach €1,150 million. Until last December, the company’s financial debt amounted to €545 million. Sources at Saba declined to comment on the news.

The parking lot group closed 2016 with turnover of €222 million, compared to €225 million in 2015, when its revenues still reflected income from its logistics parks. The company, a spin-off of Abertis, constituted in 2011, obtained an EBITDA of €103 million and earned €4 million from its ordinary activity in 2016 (€32 million with the gains from the sale of its logistics business to the Socimi Merlin).

Two hundred thousand parking spaces

The group manages 195,000 parking spaces across Spain, Chile, Portugal and Italy and employs 1,400 people. Its last major operation was the contract it won in 2014, with a bid amounting to €234 million, to manage the parking lots in Barcelona through a joint venture with the city’s Town Hall.

Potential buyers for Saba include the large investment funds that specialise in infrastructures. Sources in the market say that the investment firm Arcus, which manages a portfolio of assets worth €17,000 million, is looking at this opportunity. KKR, Saba’s third-largest shareholder, purchased the parking lots of the Dutch firm Q-Park earlier this year for almost €3,000 million. Meanwhile, Ardian and Predica also put the French market leader Indigo up for sale this year; that company has strong interests in Spain and is worth around €3,000 million.

There have been other smaller transactions in Spain, such as the agreement signed by Oak Hill to acquire Isolux’s best parking lots and the sale of Parkia to First State for €300 million.

Saba, which is chaired by Salvador Alemany, suffered a major setback this summer after losing the bid for Empark. The parking lot group, whose vocation since its constitution has been to make its debut on the stock market, had wanted to absorb Empark to acquire critical mass for its stock market debut. But its offer was lower than the one presented by the Australians, which, according to the market, bid around €900 million.

Following that setback, the minority shareholders have reactivated the sales plan. Specifically, the shareholders’ agreement lapses in November and the funds have a drag along clause to force the other shareholders to sell. The timeframe for looking for interested investors runs until May 2018 and if Criteria does not want to sell, then it has the right of first refusal to buy the shares that it does not control at the same price agreed with the investor (…).

Original story: Expansión (by C. Morán, I. Abril and M. Ponce de León)

Translation: Carmel Drake

CBRE: Real Estate Inv’t Will Exceed €13,000M In 2017

5 October 2017 – Expansión

Real estate investment in Spain is continuing to enjoy happy times, with on-going growth and record-breaking figures.

Between January and September, €10,300 million was spent on real estate assets, up by 58% compared to the same period last year, say sources at the real estate consultancy firm CBRE. Between July and September, the volume of investment moderated with respect to the “extraordinary figures” recorded during the first half of the year, to amount to more than €2,700 million. “This data is very positive and confirms investors’ appetite for the Spanish real estate sector”, said Adolfo Ramírez-Escudero, President of CBRE España.

By type of property, retail assets and hotels are the investment focus, accounting for 26% and 23% of the total, respectively, although all of the assets are experiencing growing interest. “Domestic and international investors are continuing to see Spain as a market with great potential and are showing interest in the full range of asset types”, say sources at CBRE.

In total, the retail sector accounted for €2,700 million of the total investment during the first 9 months of 2017, comprising both shopping centres and high street premises. Meanwhile, operations such as the purchase of Edificio España by the hotel chain RIU for €272 million increased investment in hotel assets during the first nine months of the year, by more than 122% with respect to the same period in 2016, to reach €2,390 million. Another type of asset that saw an exponential increase in its investment was the logistics business, which grew by 153%, to amount to more than €1,500 million. In the case of offices, investment rose by more than 38% to reach €1,542 million, whilst investment in residential assets fell by 32% to €617 million.

Buyer profile

By nationality, overseas investors accounted for 67% of the total volume spent, compared with domestic buyers (22%) and Socimis (10%) – which, although they are Spanish companies, are mostly financed by international capital -. “Last year, Socimis accounted for 43% of real estate investments. Nevertheless, this year, their role has been moderated and they have only participated in 10% of the transacted volume”, explain sources at CBRE.

The replacement of Socimis – which are focusing on managing their portfolios and selling their first non-strategic assets this year – is being led by foreign funds, with new profiles and nationalities closing operations in Spain. Such is the case of the Australian firm Macquarie, which has purchased Empark.

In fact, overseas investment in 2017 has been led by buyers from the Middle East and Asia Pacific, which account for 31% of the total volume of international investment. They are followed by US funds, which account for 18%, and buyers from France, with 17% of the total share, say sources at CBRE. “Overseas investment has increased by 73% with respect to the same period last year, to reach €6,747 million, backed by an increase in investment from most countries, with the exception of the USA and Germany, whose investment volumes have decreased by 36% and 48%, respectively.

Thanks to the good behaviour of the market during the first 9 months of the year, experts predict that 2017 will close with investment of more than €13,000 million, in line with the volumes registered in 2016 and 2015, which were characterised by several large corporate operations.

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Macquarie Will Complete Empark Purchase In Q4

31 July 2017 – Expansión

The Australian firm Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets has formalised, through the fund Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund, the purchase of 100% of the Spanish car park operator Empark. The acquisition is expected to be closed in the last quarter of the year. The fund will be the only shareholder of Empark, which comprises three business units and owns more than 535,000 parking spaces in 180 municipalities across six countries. Empark operates primarily in Spain and Portugal but is also present in Andorra, France, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Saba & Macquarie Compete For Spanish Car Parking Operator Empark

24 July 2017 – Reuters

Saba Aparcamientos and Macquarie have both submitted final offers for Spain’s Empark, valuing the car park operator at 900 million to 1.2 billion euros, sources close to the deal said.

Portuguese real estate group Silva & Silva is selling the 79% stake it owns in Empark, which operates 530,000 parking spaces is Spain, Portugal, Britain and Turkey, through holding companies Assip and Parkinvest.

Minority shareholder Haitong and Transport Infrastructure Investment Company (TIIC) could sell its 21% stake if satisfied with the price on offer, one source said.

But the minority shareholders have pre-emption rights and have agreed to sell these to Deutsche Asset Management if the offers are too low, the source added.

Saba, Macquarie and Deutsche Bank all declined to comment.

Last year, Empark recorded revenues of 201.3 million euros ($234 million) and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of 71.4 million.

The company is funded with 385 million of corporate bonds maturing in 2019, including a 235 million fixed-rate tranche paying 6.75% and a 150 million floating-rate tranche paying 5.5% over three-month Euribor.

It also has 80.8 million euros of non-recourse debt across various project loans to finance 11 car parks that are not fully owned by Empark, where it holds stakes of 50% or more.

The company says its net debt amounts to 6.4 times its adjusted EBITDA.

JP Morgan and Caixa BI are advising the sellers.

Original story: Reuters

Translation: Carmel Drake