Merlin Teams Up with Telefónica to Digitalise the Management of its c.150 Office Buildings

21 April 2019 – Expansión

Merlin has joined forces with Telefónica to digitalise and centralise the management and maintenance of its c. 150 offices, which are primarily located in Madrid and Barcelona, and which span a combined surface area of 1.3 million m2.

The aim of the initiative is to optimise the efficiency of the buildings’ operations and, above all to save costs, especially on the energy side. It forms part of the Socimi’s wider commitment to the digitalisation of its property portfolio.

A new digital headquarters will be set up to centrally manage the operations and maintenance of the Socimi’s offices, from where it will be possible to turn off the lights, change the temperature and take into account any breakdowns in any of the properties.

Merlin’s office portfolio includes several iconic assets, such as Torre Glòries in Barcelona, one of the four skyscrapers in Madrid, several assets on Paseo de la Castellana and properties on Calle Balmes and La Diagonal in the Catalan capital.

Original story: Expansión 

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Spain’s Largest Landlords are Merlin, Colonial, GMP & Mapfre

19 April 2019 – Expansión

Merlin, Colonial, GMP and Mapfre: three Socimis and one insurance company together own 16% of the total office space in Madrid. Blackstone, Realia, Mutua Madrileña, Tristan, Pontegadea and Starwood complete the Top 10 ranking.

According to a report from Deloitte, the ten largest landlords own more than 3.1 million m2 of leasable space in Madrid, out of a total spanning more than 13 million m2 (24%). In Barcelona, there is 6.1 million m2 of leasable space.

Leading the ranking is Merlin, which owns 7% of the total stock in Madrid and more than 3% in Barcelona. Its 140-strong office portfolio is worth €5.5 billion and accounts for 45% of its total assets. The Socimi’s tenants include BBVA, Endesa, Inditex and PwC, and its star assets include Torre PwC in Madrid and Torre Glòries in Barcelona.

Behind Merlin is Colonial, which owns 3.8% of the office stock in Madrid and 4.6% in Barcelona (where it is the market leader). Its key assets include the building located on Paseo de la Castellana, 52, two properties on Calle Miguel Ángel (numbers 11 and 23), all in Madrid, and Torre Marenostrum in Barcelona.

Completing the podium is GMP, which owns 2.8% of the gross leasable area in Madrid, including Torre BBVA and Torre Ederra, both in Azca. Meanwhile, the insurance companies Mapfre and Mutua Madrileña own 2.7% and 1.4% of the total stock in the Spanish capital, respectively.

In addition, the funds have strengthened their positions in recent months. The US fund Starwood purchased a portfolio of offices in Madrid and Barcelona from Autonomy for €125 million. It also acquired the San Fernando Business Park, in conjunction with Drago, from Oaktree for €120 million.

The British fund Tristan has also been active, with the acquisition of an office complex on Avenida de Manoteras in 2017 and the purchase of six offices spanning 78,000 m2 from Colonial in 2018 (…).

Original story: Expansión (by R. Arroyo)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Aena Launches the Largest Real Estate Plan in Spain

5 April 2019 – Expansión

Aena is planning to put up for tender between 160,000 m2 and 200,000 m2 of land at Barajas airport (Madrid) and another 300,000 m2 at El Prat (Barcelona).

The airport manager plans to invest €4.3 billion in the land adjacent to the Adolfo Suárez-Barajas (Madrid) and El Prat (Barcelona) airports and intends to put the first plots up for auction this year, most likely in December.

The firm led by Maurici Lucena has detected interest from funds and Socimis in its plots, which may be used for the development of logistics assets, as well as for hotel, office and commercial use. The plots are very attractive given their unique locations and connections and the three favourite investors at this stage are Blackstone, Segro and Merlin.

A priori, Aena’s idea is to create companies together with the investing partners who will finance the developments. Prices for the land at Barajas could range between €500/m2 and €750/m2 and for finished products could reach up to €1,800/m2.

In El Prat, the prices are expected to be higher given the space restrictions there, reaching around €2,000/m2 for finished products and between €750/m2 and €1,000/m2 for undeveloped plots of land.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Merlin Acquires 100% of Loom & Steps Up its Commitment to Flexible Office Space

26 March 2019 – Eje Prime

Merlin Properties has increased its ownership of the flexible workspace company Loom from 31% to 100%, whereby taking control of the whole entity.

Loom currently operates three flexible workspaces in the centre of Madrid, spanning 3,500 m2 in total. Merlin expects that figure to increase to nine spaces by the end of 2019, spanning 13,000 m2 with new openings forecast both in the Spanish capital and Barcelona.

According to David Brush, Investment Director at Merlin, “flexible workspaces represent a great opportunity for Merlin given that the market is currently growing at a rate of 20% p.a. and may account for 20% of the total office market by 2030”.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Merlin Completes its Purchase of the Zona Franca Logistics Park for €10.9M

8 March 2019 – Eje Prime

Merlin Properties is now the sole owner of the Zona Franca Logistics Park. The listed Socimi purchased the remaining 10% of the complex that was still owned by the Consorci de la Zona Franca (CZF) for €10.9 million in December.

In this way, Merlin’s subsidiary, Merlin Parques Logísticos, is now the sole shareholder of Parc Logístic de la Zona Franca SA, the owner of the complex, which is located on the Zona Franca industrial estate in Barcelona.

The complex is one of the most active industrial areas in southern Europe, spans a total surface area of 35.5 hectares and comprises two main areas: one for business and one for logistics.

The logistics area covers 285,000 m2 in total, whilst the business area spans 190,000 m2.

Original story: Eje Prime (by Roger Arnau)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Funds, Socimis, El Corte Inglés & Seur Compete in the Urban Logistics Segment

9 March 2019 – Expansión

Investors and logistics operators alike are setting their sights on urban hubs to benefit from the boom in e-commerce. According to data from CBRE, investment in the logistics sector is thriving – it amounted to €2 billion in 2017, €1.5 billion in 2018 and is forecast to reach €1.2 billion in 2019. Active players in the sector include the Singapore sovereign fund through its Socimi P3, Blackstone, Prologis, Logicor, CBRE GI and Montepino, and Merlin, amongst others.

Urban hubs are gaining significant weight in the sector thanks to their ability to reduce transport costs, avoid the new traffic restrictions and resolve the problem of product returns.

According to the CNMC, Correos and Correos Express currently deliver 44% of all packages in Spain, followed by MRW and Seur (14% each) and DHL (4.5%).

In terms of retailers operating in this space, Amazon set the ball rolling by opening a logistics centre in the heart of the Eixample district of Barcelona and in the Méndez Álvaro area of Madrid. Other large retailers are following suit by opening distribution centres inside major cities, such as Decathlon, MediaMarkt, Ikea, Aki, Carrefour and Worten.

The investment firm Azora has also announced its intention to invest €250 million in logistics hubs in urban centres, which it will lease to delivery specialists such as Seur, DHL and MRW. Seur already has eleven urban logistics centres and plans to open another nine this year. Meanwhile, DHL already has ten such hubs and plans to open two more this year.

In the same vein, the department store giant El Corte Inglés has also launched an ambitious omnichannel logistics strategy, which will convert its 94 shopping centres into storage points for the management of online purchases.

Original story: Expansión (by I. de las Heras & R. Arroyo)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Merlin to Add 13,000 m2 of Coworking Space in Madrid & Barcelona by 2020

28 February 2019 – Idealista

Merlin Properties is expanding in the coworking sector, where it operates under the Loom brand. The Socimi led by Ismael Clemente currently has three shared offices in Madrid, spanning 3,500 m2 in total, and it is planning to open its next space, spanning 1,200 m2 on Calle Eucalipto, 25, also in the Spanish capital, in June.

The listed company also intends to open 1,600 m2 of coworking space in Torre Glóries, the office block that it owns in Barcelona, where its tenants will work alongside several high-profile operators, such as Facebook, Dynatrace and Oracle.

In September, Merlin is going to open 2,000 m2 of coworking space in the Salamanca neighbourhood of Madrid and before the end of the year, it will add 1,500 m2 of shared office space in WTC Alameda in Barcelona.

In 2020, the Socimi is also planning to open 1,100 m2 of shared work space in Torre Chamartín in Madrid and another 2,000 m2 in the 22@ district of Barcelona.

Merlin owns 31% of Loom House, which is managed by the siblings, Paula and José Almansa.

Original story: Idealista (by Custodio Pareja)

Summary translation by: Carmel Drake

Merlin’s Revenues Rose by 5.2% to €509M in 2018

1 March 2019 – Expansión

The Socimi Merlin Properties closed 2018 with an increase in revenues thanks to the strong performance of its rental properties. Its total turnover amounted to €509 million, up by 5.2%, boosted by a 6.5% improvement in gross sales to €500 million. The real estate company’s EBITDA reached €403 million, up by 2.8%. The operating result fell by 22% to €855 million.

The company’s main source of income is the rental from its office buildings, followed by its shopping centres. The value of the Socimi’s assets amounted to €12.0 billion at the end of December 2018, which represented a YoY increase of 6.1%. The occupancy rate of its property portfolio rose to 93.4%.

Yesterday, the company highlighted the cost control of its financial debt, which amounted to €4.9 billion with an indebtedness ratio of just over 40% and financial costs that have reduced to 2.13% following the most recent refinancings.

The company has a cash balance of €350 million (…). In 2018, Merlin undertook investments amounting to €569 million and property sales amounting to €594 million, with a premium for its divestments of 3.1% (…).

Merlin’s share price closed trading at €11.10 per share yesterday, down by 1.2%.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Investors & Tenants Alike Demand Sustainable Buildings

21 February 2019 – Expansión

Sustainability has become an essential requirement in the search for offices. Beyond the social demand for spaces that are more respectful of the environment, sustainable buildings actually allow their owners to obtain higher rents, increase the valuation of their assets and make them more liquid.

“With the emergence of technology, changes in working habits and organisational efficiency, sustainability and well-being have become essential aspects for tenants and important factors for investment decisions”, explains Tomás Higuero, CEO of Aire Limpio, a group specialising in offering products and services for internal environmental quality, which works for hospitals and offices, above all.

Higuero says that the internal air quality of buildings is a fundamental factor that contributes to the health and well-being of workers. In this sense, the main REITS (a corporate structure similar to the Socimis in Spain) in US offices prioritise that their assets are certified or are in the process of being certified, and that they are healthy and efficient buildings from an energy perspective. This trend is also present in Spain and is being adopted by many of the large Socimis and real estate groups, such as Colonial, Merlin and GMP (…).

Original story: Expansión (by R.A.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

El Corte Inglés Negotitates the Sale of its Logistics Assets to KKR

1 February 2019 – Expansión

The US investment fund KKR, together with the British firm Round Hill, has launched a bid for the logistics portfolio of El Corte Inglés, which includes around thirty assets distributed all over Spain, with a surface area of more than 500,000 m2.

According to explanations provided by market sources speaking to Expansión, although there are other interested funds, KKR and Round Hill have now taken the lead in the bid for the assets, with an offer of between €150 million and €170 million. Other players that have expressed interest in this portfolio so far include the US giant Blackstone, and even the Socimi Merlin, which confirmed very preliminary conversations.

In terms of the most attractive assets in the batch for sale, there is a package of six warehouses in Móstoles (Madrid), with a total surface area of 88,000 m2, as well as a plot in La Bisbal del Penedès (Tarragona), with a gross surface area of almost 41,000 m2, which serves to support its large centre in Cataluña, located in Montornès del Vallès and which provides services to the rest of the Mediterranean arc.

Batch of warehouses

In addition, the portfolio includes warehouses, storerooms and distribution centres in logistics nuclei in Sevilla, Málaga, Valencia, Valladolid, Alicante, Murcia, La Coruña, Vigo, Palma de Mallorca, Murcia, Teruel, Cáceres and Zaragoza. On the other hand, the batch for sale does not include any of the group’s logistics gems, such as the logistics centre in Valdemoro or the platform in Montornès del Vallès (Barcelona), both of which are strategic for the company (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo & Víctor M. Osorio)

Translation: Carmel Drake