Private Companies Start Building VPO Rental Homes Due to Lack of Public Resources

11 June 2019 – Idealista

Housing and the need for public-private partnerships to build affordable homes was one of the hot topics during the recent election campaigns. But the reality is that the public administrations do not have the resources to fund any substantial residential programs.

In addition, Spain has traditionally been a country of homeowners and so most of the few affordable homes that the state has been building have been sold rather than put up for rent. This represents a major problem for the growing population of renters in the country, which some estimate currently account for 23% of total demand, compared with the European average of 34%. The Bank of Spain’s official figure for 2017 was 16%. Regardless, private companies are entering the market to fill the gap.

One such example is Azora, which has been managing social housing for rent since 2004 through its fund Lazora. It estimates that Spain needs 2.5 million mostly affordable rental homes to bring it in line with the European average. That would require an investment of approximately €300 billion over the next few years, a mammoth figure.

Azora actually sold its Lazora portfolio, containing almost 7,000 homes (private and social) to CBRE and Madison in 2018. They committed to continue investing capital in the sector and have already committed more than €200 million in various projects to build 1,200 more homes.

Azora still manages almost 14,000 social and private rental homes across the country and has recently been joined in the sector by the property developer AQ Acentor, the real estate arm of the German fund Aquila Capital. Specifically, AQ Acentor is planning to build 1,450 VPO rental homes in Villaverde, Barcelona, Valencia and Málaga. The numbers are not huge but they will go some way to plugging the gap.

Meanwhile, in the public sector, according to data from the Ministry of Development, 5,167 VPO homes were built in 2018, of which just 353 (6.8%) were dedicated to rental. In 2017, 4,938 VPO homes were constructed, the lowest absolute number since records began, of which 355 (7.1%) were dedicated to rental. Madrid accounted for most of the new VPO homes in 2018 (2,418, of which just 78 were dedicated to rental).

Azora considers that more institutional investment is required to make up for the housing deficit and that “to attract such capital, we need solutions and policies that promote and facilitate the construction of new rental homes”. It remains to be seen whether the politicians can put their ideological differences aside and come up with a clear and consensual housing policy for the benefit of the country at large.

Original story: Idealista (by P. Martínez-Ameida & Ana P. Alarcos)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Azora Acquires HQ of the Former Cortefiel Group for €28.3M

24 January 2019 – Eje Prime

Another operation has been closed in the office market in Madrid. The Socimi GMP, controlled by the Montoro family and the sovereign fund of Singapore, has sold the building located at number 51 Calle Llano Castellano to Azora. The price of the operation amounted to €28.3 million.

The property now controlled by Azora, the real estate manager founded by Concha Osácar and Fernando Gumuzio, is occupied in its entirety by Tendam, previously known as the Cortefiel Group and owner of the fashion chains Cortefiel, Women’secret, Springfield and Pedro del Hierro.

The rental contract for the building, which has a gross leasable area of 23,108 m2 and 145 parking spaces, is due to expire in 2023.

The building was constructed in 1990 and had been controlled 100% by GMP since 2015. Until then, the property was in the hands of the real estate division of General Electric through the company Renta Gestión Fuencarral.

Its new owner, Azora, specialises in the investment and management of real estate assets for third parties and has a portfolio comprising more than €4.5 billion in assets. The company was the promoter of Hispania, the first Socimi to be constituted, which made its debut on the stock market in Spain in 2014.

Azora was considering its own stock market debut, but in the end, it suspended that process last year. Azora and Hispania ended their agreement last year, after Blackstone’s successful takeover of the Socimi.

Since then, the company has focused on the residential rental market through the creation of a joint venture with CBRE Global Investment and Madison to reach a portfolio of 10,000 homes over the coming years.

Azora manages the real estate portfolios of funds and wealthy investors, such as George Soros, CBRE Global Investors, Goldman Sachs, Axa Investment Management and Bank of Montreal, amongst others (…).

Original story: Eje Prime (by P. Riaño and I. P. Gestal)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Azora Launches a Vehicle to Invest €250M in Last Mile Logistics Hubs

9 January 2019 – Eje Prime

Azora is launching itself into the last mile logistics sector. The real estate manager has launched a vehicle to invest €250 million in premises located in the centre of cities with the aim of facilitating urban distribution and responding to the boom in e-commerce.

According to the company’s plans, the first investments will take place during the first quarter of this year. Azora will be responsible for the vehicle and will hold a minority stake in it. Meanwhile, the consultancy firm CBRE will be responsible for designing it and for supplying the real estate services, according to Expansión.

Until now, Azora and CBRE have identified almost thirty assets that fit their investment objectives until 2021. Currently, both companies are holding negotiations to purchase those properties, which include disused furniture stores, parking lots, dealerships, workshops and shopping centres inside the M-30 in Madrid and within Las Rondas in Barcelona. The properties must also have a surface area of more than 800 m2.

The assets will subsequently be leased to major logistics operators and to other transport companies, as well as to merchants and distribution companies under long-term lease contracts.

With more than €4.5 billion in assets under management, Azora is continuing to back the real estate sector after breaking its alliance with Hispania. Since then, the company has taken advantage of its experience in the sector to back the residential rental segment through the creation of a joint venture with CBRE Global Investment and Madison to achieve a portfolio of 10,000 homes within the next few years.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Deutsche Bank, APG & CBRE GI Enter Spain’s Residential Rental Market

7 December 2018 – Expansión

The large international investors have placed their focus on the residential market and, specifically, on the rental segment. The success of this sector, together with labour mobility, the difficult access to housing and changes in living habits mean that, increasingly, renting is an option over buying in Spain, and that has fuelled interest from capital in the sector.

Blackstone, the largest real estate investor in Spain, was one of the first funds to back the residential rental sector with the purchase of 18 developments comprising 1,860 units from the Municipal Housing and Land Company of Madrid (EMVS) in 2013, but it has not been the only one. The Dutch pension fund APG, in conjunction with Renta Corporación; the German bank Deutsche Bank; and the international fund manager CBRE GI have been some of the most committed investors in this market in recent months.

In this way, APG reached an agreement in the spring of 2017 with the Catalan real estate company Renta Corporación to launch Vivenio, a Socimi specialising in housing, with the aim of acquiring assets worth €1 billion in Madrid, Barcelona and the provincial capitals. The Socimi is going to close a particularly active year for acquisitions, with a total investment of €400 million and is planning to repeat that amount in 2019 to reach a total portfolio of €1 billion in just over two years. One of the largest purchases it has made this year was the batch of 1,100 homes that belonged to the manager Aquila Capital, headquartered in Hamburg, for €240 million.

With the aim of diversifying its portfolio and entering this growing segment, the international fund manager CBRE GI joined forces with Azora, the Spanish manager founded by Concha Osácar and Fernando Gumuzio, with experience in this sector, and the New York investment firm Madison to invest €750 million over the next two or three years. That three-way alliance started with a portfolio of 65 buildings and a total of 6,458 homes and has the aim of reaching, at least, 10,000 units.

Another large investor that is betting heavily on the Spanish residential sector is DWS, the asset management subsidiary of the German bank Deutsche Bank, which has prepared a budget of €500 million to acquire between 1,000 and 2,000 homes in Spain. In that case, it is backing new build developments and it will do so through three formulae: delegated development, the acquisition of construction projects from other property developers and direct development. The objective is to maintain the assets in its portfolio and rent them out. In that case, the vehicle will not be a Socimi because German regulation of the funds from which the capital proceeds do not allow that. 60% of the investment will be made with own funds and the rest, bank financing. The plan is to invest primarily in Madrid and Barcelona, but they will also study plots in cities such as Bilbao and Sevilla, provided the rental market is very liquid.

Meanwhile, Catella Asset Management Iberia (CAMI), the Spanish subsidiary of the Swedish fund manager is intending to reach 2,000 units by 2020. The manager, which will add 1,000 homes to its portfolio at the beginning of 2019, entered the residential rental market two and a half years ago and has invested around €160 million in the business to date. It plans to double that figure to reach 2,000 homes within two years.

Another real estate company that has teamed up with foreign funds to grow in this segment has been Elix. The firm, which is dedicated to the purchase of buildings, their renovation and the sale of homes by unit, has signed an alliance with KKR and Altamar to invest in buildings, renovate them and dedicate them to the rental market. Its aim is to invest €200 million in Madrid and Barcelona through the Socimi Elix Vintage.

Finally, Redevco has created a new fund to invest €500 million in residential projects in several European markets, including Spain (…). Redevco is planning to build a pan-European residential portfolio comprising approximately 2,500 units.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo & Marisa Anglés)

Translation: Carmel Drake