Bain Appoints Juan María Nin as New President of Habitat

26 June 2018 – Eje Prime

Habitat is continuing to compose its governing body. The real estate company, which has been owned by Bain Capital since last year, has hired Juan María Nin (pictured below) as the new President of the company. The director is already a member of the Boards of Directors of Azora, Société Générale and Azvi.

Nin is joining the Catalan property developer at a time when the management team is being rebuilt by the US fund, which recently hired José Carlos Saz, formerly of Neinor Homes, as its new CEO.

The executive, who holds a degree in Law and Economics from the University of Deusto and a Masters in Law and Political Science from the London School of Economics, has enjoyed an outstanding career in the Spanish business world. Nin has held positions of responsibility at several banks including Santander, Sabadell and CaixaBank (…).

Habitat, which was acquired by Bain in December last year for €220 million, currently has a portfolio of projects underway in Spain, with more than 1,000 new homes being marketed in Madrid, Barcelona, Málaga, Sevilla, Córdoba, Valencia and Las Palmas de Gran Canarias. Of those, the real estate company has 700 homes under construction and expects to hand over more than 550 homes in the next twelve months.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Barings Completes €23M Capital Increase & Prepares Socimi Debut

28 February 2018 – Eje Prime

Barings is not wasting any time in Spain and is taking advantage of the good health of the country to generate profits from its investments. The British fund has just carried out a €23.1 million capital increase for its Spanish subsidiary Barings Core Spain, which, according to market sources, it is preparing to convert into a Socimi and debut on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB) within the next few months.

Specifically, the company has increased its share capital to finance the purchase of new assets and to meet the company’s financing needs. Following this increase, which was published in the Official Gazette of the Mercantile Registry (Borme), the company’s resulting subscribed share capital amounts to €47.1 million.

Now, after a very active year in terms of acquisitions in the Spanish market, the group has decided to transform its company and turn it into a Socimi. Although the company is in the middle of carrying out that process, it does not yet have a final date for the completion of the transformation. The group is also working in parallel to prepare the future Socimi to start to trade on the alternative stock market.

In this way, all of the assets that form part of the Barings portfolio would move across to be managed by its Socimi. They include the recently acquired Berceo shopping centre, in Logroño (…).

Also in 2017, the British company backed commercial assets with the purchase of a prime retail outlet in Spain. Barings acquired the store at number 64 Calle Velázquez in Madrid. With a retail surface area of 1,638 m2, the establishment is currently occupied by Banco Popular.

In terms of logistics assets, last year, Barings also took responsibility for fattening up its property portfolio with those kinds of products. In April, the group purchased a logistics asset in Madrid from GLL Real Estate Partners for €35 million. The warehouse has a surface area of 56,000 m2 and is leased to Ceva (…).

Before the end of 2017, Barings also completed another purchase. In December, the international manager acquired two assets in Majadahonda (Madrid) for €17.6 million, owned until then by López-Real, and occupied by the Eroski supermarket chain. The fund purchased a storeroom and gas station, spanning a total surface area of 10,900 m2.

Last year, Barings also strengthened its management team in Spain. The fund announced that, as part of the on-going expansion of its European offer, it had appointed Carlos de Oya as Director of Asset Management in the Spanish market. Barings has one office in Spain, located at number 38 Calle Serrano, in Madrid.

Barings Real Estate Advisers is one of the largest diversified real estate investment managers in the world. The group is an active investor in private and listed markets, in both equities and debt, and provides fundamental, value-added and opportunistic investment and advisory services to institutional and other qualifying investors around the world. The group manages an asset portfolio worth €271 billion.

Original story: Eje Prime (by Custodio Pareja)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Bankia To Start Financing Property Developers Again as EC Restrictions End

2 January 2018 – Inmodiario

From 1 January 2018, Bankia will be able to launch new lines of activity after the restrictions, established by the Restructuring Plan that the entity signed with the European Commission five years ago, were lifted. These activities will represent the levers for commercial development in the new growth phase that the entity is now embarking on.

José Ignacio Goirigolzarri, President of Bankia, has confirmed that “we are starting a new phase of growth after leaving behind a successful restructuring phase that we have now completed”. And he added that “the lifting of the restrictions imposed by the Restructuring Plan opens up new business opportunities for us and places us alongside our competitors once again”.

Over the last five years, and as a result of the commitments taken on to enable it to sign the Restructuring Plan (which allowed it to receive aid), Bankia was not allowed to operate in certain activities, such as financing real estate developments or companies with access to capital markets.

With the new objectives in mind, the entity has incorporated a Property Development Division into its new organisation, which was approved recently. It has appointed Alberto Manrique to lead that business and he will report directly to the Business Banking Division, led by Gonzalo Alcubilla.

Manrique joined the group in 1988. Since then, the industrial engineer, who holds a degree in ‘ETS de Ingenieros’ from ICAI, has taken on several positions of responsibility. Most recently, he has carried out different tasks within the Business Banking sphere, such as the corporate management of the business branch network in the centre of Spain, the management of the Structured Finance and Syndicated Loan product teams and taking responsibility for the online business channels.

The new management team will be responsible for developing financing for property developers at a point when the cycle is recovering, “with growth expected for at least three or four years, during which time we expect that around 150,000 new homes per year will be built”, says Manrique.

One of the other new lines of activity that Bankia will develop from 1 January 2018 onwards will be to grant long-term financing to large corporations with access to capital markets, inside and outside of Spain, as well as to finance projects and acquisitions, activities that have been limited in recent years.

In addition to these new lines of activity for the coming year, the growth phase that Bankia is now starting will be marked by its ability to take advantage of the enormous growth opportunities that result from the increase in the client base that the entity has experienced in recent years and as a result of the process to integrate BMN, which consolidates the resulting entity’s position as the fourth-largest bank by assets in Spain.

Original story: Inmodiario 

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

Domo Activos Embarks On New Growth Phase

3 November 2017 – Eje Prime

Domo Activos is embarking on a new phase of growth. The largest property developer Socimi, aimed at medium-sized investors, is going to launch a €15 million capital increase over the next few weeks. It plans to use the funds raised to buy new land in Spain, with the purpose of building new homes, according to José Luís Alba, Director of Domo Gestora’s Socimi.

According to the director, the company has already identified opportunities in Spain and is now waiting to beef up its financial strength so as to be able to actually purchase the new plots. “We will focus these acquisitions in Madrid, Málaga and Valencia in the first instance, but we are also looking for plots in Sevilla, Córdoba, Granada and Zaragoza”, said the executive.

Domo Activos Socimi will increase its share capital through an issue and placement into circulation of up to a maximum of 7.5 million shares, with a nominal value of €2 each “with an incomplete subscription forecast”. To approve this increase, Domo Activos has convened an Extraordinary General Shareholders’ Meeting, which will be held in Madrid on 30 November.

The business model of Domo Activos involves the acquisition of land for the construction of buildings, which are let out for the first three years and then sold “whereby benefitting from the tax benefits afforded to these types of companies”. “In this way, all of the capital gains generated, from the date the land is acquired to the date the properties are sold, are not taxable for corporation tax purposes”, explain sources at the group.

According to the company’s own estimates, the return on this project, once the divestments have been made, could reach 10% per annum. Investors receive the profits resulting from rental income in the form of dividends throughout the period that the buildings are leased and until they are sold.

Currently, the first project being promoted by Domo Activos is the development that it is constructing in Madrid, in El Ensanche de Vallecas. This building will contain eighty homes for rent, according to sources at the group.

New leadership team

Moreover, the company has also been reshaping its management team in recent months. To carry out this new phase of growth, Domo Gestora has appointed José Luís Alba as Director of the Socimi, a role carried out until now by Roberto Boluda, who moved to Prygesa in July as the Managing Director of the property developer owned by the Pryconsa group.

Domo Gestora’s Socimi was created by a team that is closely related to the real estate business. When it was launched, the company appointed Enrique Guerra as its CEO. Guerra is an expert in real estate management and has specialised in housing cooperatives since 2002 (…).

Domo’s management team is completed by executives such as Juan Pedro Plaza, the Socimi’s Director of Investments (…); Feliciano Conde, who took over the presidency of Domo Activos in January 2016 (…); and Alberto Freire, Director of Developments at Domo, amongst others.

Original story: Eje Prime (by C. Pareja)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sabadell Sells Its Hotel Management Company To Blackstone

17 October 2017 – Expansión

Sabadell has sold 100% of the share capital in HI Partners, its hotel management platform, to Halley Holdco, an entity controlled by funds advised by subsidiaries of Blackstone. The transaction price amounted to €630.73 million, according to a statement filed by the bank with the CNMV. Nevertheless, the definitive valuation will be subject to “possible non-material adjustments” and “is conditional upon obtaining the necessary authorisation from the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV)”.

Sabadell will recognise a net gain of €55 million in its results for this year as a consequence of the sale. Moreover, it will improve its maximum quality capital ratio (CET 1 without full implementation of Basel III) by 22 basis points. In June, its capital ratio amounted to 12.67%, in accordance with the calendar for the gradual adaptation of the rule, and to 12.1% assuming the full application of Basel III (fully loaded).

HI Partners is one of the largest managers of hotel assets, including debt, in Spain, with 29 properties in its portfolio and 4,793 rooms in total. Its establishments include the Hotel Ritz-Carlton Abama, in Guía de Isora (Tenerife); the Hotel Abora Catarina, located in Maspalomas (Gran Canaria); and the Hotel ME Sitges Terramar (Sitges), the Hotel Hilton Sa Torre, in Llucmajor (Mallorca); and the Abba Acteon, in Valencia.

Before the summer, Sabadell engaged the investment banks Citi, JP Morgan and Credit Suisse to sound out the market regarding the possible placement on the stock exchange of its hotel management subsidiary.

In addition to Sabadell’s majority stake, HI Partners’ other shareholders include the company’s management team, comprising Alejandro Hernández-Puértolas, Sergio Carrascosa and Santiago Fisas. Its most recent operations involve several agreements with the Canary Islands-based hotel group Lopesan, from which it purchased the hotels ‘Ifa Dunamar’, ‘Ifa Continental’ and ‘Ifa Beach’.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Savills Finalises Purchase Of Aguirre Newman

14 June 2016 – Cinco Días

The large Spanish real estate consultancy firm par excellence, Aguirre Newman, is going to be acquired by its British rival Savills. The two companies are finalising a purchase agreement, according to sources in the market, which could be closed before the summer. The acquisition price amounts to around €80 million.

The Spanish consultancy firm launched a sale process two months ago, in search of an alliance with an international partner. The company, which was founded in 1988 by Santiago Aguirre (pictured above) and Stephen Newman, the current Presidents, employs around 460 people and recorded revenues of €96 million last year.

If the sale is completed, the co-Presidents Aguirre and Newman will remain at the helm for between four and five years. The rest of the management team will also continue to lead the business, according to sources familiar with the process. The Spanish company operates a real estate broker business in the office, hotel and residential segments; it also performs appraisals, town planning activities and corporate operations.

Besides Savills, the owners of Aguirre Newman have received offers from Cushman & Wakefield and Colliers, in a process that has been advised by the financial group Atlas Capital. But only the British consultancy firm has passed through to the final stage, where the finishing touches still need to be agreed.

Savills, which has declined to comment on the operation, is a real estate broker that recorded turnover of €1,645 million last year, up by 13% YoY. It has a market capitalisation of €1,400 million. Despite being one of the largest consultancy firms in the world, it only has limited operations in Spain, falling behind JLL, CBRE and Aguirre Newman itself. Its business in Spain, where Rafael Merry del Val is President, is strong in operations known as off-market deals.

With this acquisition, Savills will become one of the leading players in the domestic market. The company records revenues of around €11 million in Spain, almost nine times less than the Spanish company. Moreover, it is likely that the British consultancy will retain both brands for a period of time, so as to be more recognisable to its customers.

Experts familiar with the operation indicate that Aguirre Newman brings a strong presence and knowledge of the domestic market, compared to Savills, located in London, which will provide its Spanish subsidiary with strong international links.

Original story: Cinco Días (by Alfonso Simón Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Quonia Buys Mixed-Use Property In La Barceloneta For €7M

31 March 2017 – Eje Prime

The Socimi party in Spain is still raging. As the undisputed stars of the real estate sector over the last two years, these companies are still fattening up their asset portfolios and valuations through acquisitions. Such is the case of the Catalan firm Quonia, which after acquiring a property in one of the best area of La Barceloneta in the Catalan capital, has increased its valuation by 12% to €72 million, according to the annual accounts filed by the company.

The most recent asset acquired by Quonia, a vehicle managed externally by Rusiton XXI, a specialist real estate fund manager with extensive financial experience, is a property at number 60 on Passeig Joan de Borbó, in La Barceloneta, one of the most touristic areas in the Catalan capital, for €7 million.

The property comprises three commercial premises on the ground floor, which are currently occupied by the classic restaurant Can Manel, which has now closed its doors and which is going to be occupied by the Degus group, in an operation brokered by the real estate consultancy firm Laborde Marcet, according to sources in the sector.

The building also contains six homes on the first and second floors, and a terrace on the third floor. The gross leasable area amounts to approximately 1,658 m2, split into tertiary use (815 m2) and residential use (843 m2) which, according to sources close to the operation, will soon be subjected to a comprehensive renovation.

Following this acquisition, Quonia’s portfolio now comprises six assets, located in Barcelona, Asturias and Sevilla. The Socimi debuted on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB) in July 2016 (…).

In terms of Quonia’s management team, the role of CEO is held by Enric Pérez Más, an executive who is closely linked to the investment business in Spain. The director has held senior management positions in groups such as AMCI, Habitat and Investmex, amongst others. The Socimi’s Board of Directors also comprises Alicia Solares, Ana Marías Saucedo, José Luis Llamas, Mayra Hernández and José Luis Rodríguez.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Mirabaud: Concerns Grow Regarding Socimi Corporate Governance

2 February 2017 – Expansión

Under the magnifying glass / Remuneration systems based on asset values, such as those used by Merlin and Lar España, have been criticised in the market, above all given that these real estate companies are not actually performing that well on the stock market.

(…). Last summer, some critical voices began to be heard, when Metagestión, a Spanish investment firm, lashed out against Lar’s remuneration scheme. Now, a report from Mirabaud about the real estate market and, specifically, about the Socimis, openly states that “corporate governance is still a problem in the sector”.

In addition to Lar España, the report analyses Hispania, Axiare and Merlin Properties. The analysts express their “concern about the high incentives that the real estate companies have to grow, regardless of the conditions in the market”. Mirabaud’s financial experts explain that “on the basis of conversations that we have had with several experts, there is growing discomfort regarding the corporate governance of Spain’s real estate companies”.

Variable bonuses

Socimi’s are managed in one of two ways: internally, when the management team forms part of the Socimi, such as in the case of Merlin and Axiare; and externally, where the management team forms part of another company, which in turn manages the Socimi, such as in the case of Lar España and Hispania, which are managed by Grupo Lar and Azora, respectively. Irrespective of this management structure, the remuneration that the directors receive can also take two forms.

On the one hand, the directors may receive a management fee by way of fixed or basic remuneration. Then, they may be assigned a bonus over the medium or long-term, on the basis of various parameters. As a general rule, the benchmark used is the evolution of the net value of the assets under management, excluding capital increases. This bonus is known as a performance fee and it is what is concerning investors the most. In some cases, these fees are received through a share delivery program.

One of the most talked about aspects is the basis upon which this incentive is calculated, namely: the growth in the asset value of the company (NAV), given that this is conditioning the market and forcing companies to carry out capital increases to continue buying assets. With the exception of Axiare, “the other real estate companies under analysis all carried out capital increases in 2016” explain the analysts, who add that, in the majority of cases, the operations that were performed were “debatable”. (…).

Provisions

In the case of Hispania, the incentive is not linked to NAV, but instead to the volume of profits recorded and distributed to the shareholders as cash flow. “Everything seems to indicate that the incentives will remain at similar levels and will continue to be paid until 2020, but their calculation will have to be adapted to reflect an operational company, which means that they will have to be linked to the NAV or the share price. We think that it is very likely that the incentives will have to be provisioned for once the company no longer has a clear settlement date”, states the report from Mirabaud.

The latent criticisms have emerged at a time when, despite the fact that the Socimis have expanded their portfolios, their performance on the stock exchange has been mediocre to say the least. With the exception of Axiare, the other large Socimis have been trading below their maximum share prices for the last year and a half. As such, between 2014 and the first half of 2016, the net asset value (NAV) by share had decreased in the case of Lar and Merlin (by -15% and -1%) and had grown very modestly in the case of Hispania (14%), compared with that of Axiare (30%) and other groups in the sector, such as Colonial (43%).

Original story: Expansión (by M.Á. Patiño and R. Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Lindorff & Aktua Integrate Their Management & Services Teams

25 January 2017 – El Economista

Lindorff España and Aktua have announced that they are going to unify their management and services teams, although both companies will continue to operate as independent legal entities and will retain their respective Boards of Directors, with the aim of consolidating the leadership position of both companies in their sector in Spain.

The current CEO of Lindorff España, Alejandro Zurbano, will be responsible for leading the organisation, together with the management and services of Aktua and Lindorff España, and so will become the CEO of the Lindorff Group’s entire business in Spain.

Meanwhile, Enrique Dancausa will be the group’s new Head of Real Estate Services at the global level. In this way, he will be responsible for developing the Lindorff Group’s strategy at the international level in the area of real state asset management.

The CEO of the Lindorff Group, Klaus-Anders Nysteen, has identified Spain as “an important growth market” for the company and has assured that, thanks to the union between Lindorff España and Aktua, the group will add the management of real estate assets to its global strategy, “a complete and new business area”, which will become “a fundamental part” of its business.

Following the acquisition of Aktua by Lindorff in June 2016, Banco Santander now holds 15% of the company’s shares; no changes in the ownership structure are forecast for the near future.

With the integration of both teams, Lindorff is seeking to: strengthen and consolidate its leadership position in Spain; give coverage to the full credit cycle; and offer comprehensive solutions for the recovery of debt and management of assets.

In terms of the merger between Lindorff and Intrum Justitia announced in November, the company has confirmed that it is planning to close that operation during the second quarter of 2017.

Original story: El Economista

Translation: Carmel Drake