Blackstone, Merlin, Hispania & Eurosic Bid For Testa

11 May 2015 – Expansión

The US fund, the two Socimis and the French real estate company have all submitted bids for Sacyr’s subsidiary. The construction group is also considering other options, such as performing an IPO of 30% of Testa’s share capital.

Sacyr now has four proposals on the table for the purchase of its real estate subsidiary Testa. The Socimis Merlin Properties and Hispania, the US fund Blackstone and the French real estate company Eurosic have all submitted bids to acquire Sacyr’s subsidiary, which owns assets worth more than €3,100 million.

Sacyr engaged Lazard to organise a competitive process for the interested parties to bid for Testa. The deadline for proposals was Friday and in the end, four offers were received for the construction company chaired by Manuel Manrique.

Bids were invited for 30% of Testa, the stake that Sacyr had initially planned to place on the stock exchange (it currently controls 99.2% of the capital) as well as for the entire shareholding. In the end, Merlin, Hispania, Blackstone and Eurosic have all expressed interest in acquiring 100% of the real estate company, according to sources close to the process.

Proposals

Of the four candidates, only Merlin Properties had already formally expressed its interest in Testa. Now, the Socimi, which completed a capital increase amounting to more than €613 million last Thursay, has increased its bid to include 100% of the company.

The real estate company Hispania Activos Inmobiliarios has joined Merlin, the largest Socimi by market capitalisation. Hispania is owned by George Soros and John Paulson, and channels the majority of its investments through its Socimi Hispania Real. It has now fixed its gaze on Testa after trying to acquire one of the country’s other real estate companies, Realia.

Hispania, which is still waiting for a response from CNMV to the counter offer made by Carlos Slim to its bid for Realia, will now propose a similar transaction for Testa, whereby taking advantage of its access to funds from international investors.

Another one of the candidates is the French real estate company Eurosic. Last year, the company purchased Realia and Colonial’s shares in SiiC de Paris, for a total of €868 million. Now, it is looking to expand its portfolio of assets by backing the Spanish market, where the macroeconomic forecasts and the real estate environment point to an imminent rise in rental prices. Eurosic is participating in the process along with a foreign institutional fund.

Blackstone, the largest investment firm in the world, is behind the fourth proposal. This US fund has been investing in the Spanish real estate sector since 2013, when it acquired 1,860 rental homes from the Municipal Company for Housing and Land (Empresa Municipal de Vivienda y Suelo or EMVS) in Madrid. Moreover, Blackstone is the owner of four office buildings in Madrid and Barcelona, leased to companies such as Citibank and HP, as well as several logistics centres distributed across various locations.

The sale of 100% of Testa is just one of four scenarios that Sacyr is contemplating. As well as the possible sale of 100% of the company, the construction firm chaired by Manuel Manrique is also exploring the possible entry of a strategic partner to work together with Testa to realise the original plan of placing up to 30% of the company’s share capital on the stock exchange through an initial public offering (IPO).

Furthermore, Sacyr is evaluating a transaction that would have a much greater strategic impact and would involve the merger of Testa with another large real estate group. To that end, the company has begun preliminary conversations with Colonial to create the largest company in the sector in Spain and one of the largest in Europe.

On Saturday, Colonial said that “it would evaluate any invitation to participate in the eventual sale of Testa”. However, the group said that it is not “currently” studying any integration with Sacyr’s subsidiary.

In February, the construction company approved an “accordion operation”, where Testa regularised its finances with its parent company, subject to a capital increase of €500 million, which would allow the real estate company to strengthen its balance sheet. It is during this phase that the negotiations with Colonial would be addressed, according to sources close to the process.

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Bankia Puts Property Worth €4,800M Up For Sale

6 May 2015 – Expansión

Project Big Bang / The financial entity has put a batch of homes, land and commercial buildings up for sale, with the objective of disposing of all of the foreclosed assets left on its balance sheet.

Bankia has decided to accelerate the process to divest its real estate assets with a ‘macro-transaction’ involving a large block sale. The financial institution has launched so-called Project Big Bang, which includes a portfolio of residential and commercial assets (including offices and shops), as well as land, worth €4,800 million.

The transaction is still in its very early stages, involving initial meetings with investors, but it will represent the largest asset sale process seen to date (excluding transfers of debt with real estate collateral).

The properties up for sale include assets that Bankia did not transfer to Sareb following its nationalisation, as well as foreclosed assets resulting from subsequent defaulted payments. Most of the portfolio corresponds to residential assets. Thus, of the €4,800 million assets that Bankia has included in the batch, €3,300 million related to residential properties at 31 March 2015. In total, the bank will transfer 38,545 residential units (flats, chalets, parking spaces and storage rooms), with a total constructed surface area of 3.6 million square metres.

Along with the €3,300 million of residential assets, Bankia is selling 4,938 commercial units worth €1,100 million.

Land at zero cost

The portfolio also includes 2,589 plots of land with a total surface area of 4.6 million square metres. This land has a value of zero, according to Bankia, having been fully provisioned.

The sale is being coordinated by Credit Suisse and KPMG. The transaction may be closed as a single deal or through the sale of several blocks. The sale value may also decrease from €4,800 million to a smaller amount, say sources close to the process.

Many of the large funds, including Blackstone, Lone Star and Apollo, have already expressed their interest in the portfolio. These investors will have to compete with Cerberus, which has a preferential right to examine Bankia’s real estate portfolio. This “preferential” arrangement forms part of the negotiations that the US fund has held with the Spanish entity in recent years. In 2014, Bankia transferred its Bankia Habitat business unit to Cerberus for a consideration of between €40 million and €90 million, together with the 400 professionals who work for the platform.

Last September, Cerberus joined forces with the Norwegian fund Lindorff to acquire some of the doubtful and substandard loans, plus those that had doubtful or substandard outlooks, worth €900 million, which the entity chaired by José Ignacio Goirigolzarri (pictured above) was selling, as part of the Somo transaction. In February, Bankia launched a campaign to accelerate the sale of its remaining properties.

The clean up

Project Big Bang represents the largest divestment initiated by Bankia to date in the foreclosed asset and doubtful debt segment. The entity chaired by José Ignacio Goirigolzarri has been one of the most active in this market, having transferred almost 80 portfolios containing problematic loans since 2013, with a nominal value of €10,000 million.

Initially, Bankia undertook these types of transactions due to necessity, since the restructuring plan agreed with Brussels compelled it to divest non-strategic assets amounting to €50,000 million.

Although it has now almost completed this plan, the entity has decided to ‘step on the divestment accelerator’ in 2015 in order to reduce its default rate and focus its resources on new productive assets that improve its financial results. As well as the foreclosed assets, Bankia is also currently negotiating the sale of problematic mortgages, property developer loans and hotel debt.

If it closes all of these transactions, the nationalised group would become the first entity to withdraw from the segments considered by the market as a burden to the sector.

Original story: Expansión (by R. Ruiz and J. Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sankaty Finalises Purchase Of 40 Large Loans From Bankia

6 May 2015 – Expansión

During 2015, Bankia has become an important focus point for international funds. Along with the sale of properties amounting to €4,800 million, the nationalised entity has launched three other large sales processes to divest non-strategic assets: one contains hotel debt – Project Castle; another involves problem mortgages – Project Wind; and the third includes large loans to real estate companies – Project Commander. The last of these is likely to close first, since the US fund Sankaty, a subsidiary of Bain Capital, is now in exclusive negotiations to seal the purchase and may sign an agreement in the next few days.

If the agreement comes to fruition, the investor will acquire 170 loans granted to 39 companies linked to the property sector. Of those, 31 are property developers that have filed for bankruptcy or liquidation. The portfolio include several loans granted to companies such as the Catalan firm Promociones Habitat.

Most of the loans are syndicated and bilateral, secured by rural land and industrial warehouses. The nominal value of the portfolio amounts to €500 million. Sankaty already acquired one portfolio from Bankia last year, together with the hotel investment giant Starwood. They paid the bank €400 million for hotel and real estate loans.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Reyal Urbis’ Proposed Agreement

30 April 2015 – Expansión

The real estate company Reyal Urbis has responded to the request made by the judge and several of its creditors to amend its proposed agreement, which it wants to use so overcome the creditors’ bankruptcy that it has been immersed in since February 2013. The company recorded further losses of €47.4 million between January and March, an increase of 61%.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

MoD Opens The Bidding For ‘Campamento’ Land

27 April 2015 – Expansión

Auction worth more than €200 million / The Government is launching an auction process to sell a plot of land measuring 1.5 million square metres in Madrid, where the Chinese millionaire Wang Jianlin wants to construct luxury homes, hotels and casinos.

The Spanish Government has decided to refloat the so-called Operación Campamento just seven months before the general election. Today, the Ministry of Defence, the main owner of the land in the area measuring more than 1.5 million square metres, has officially put the plot, measuring 1,550,576 square metres, up for sale on the real estate portal Admeet.

The land, located in the south-east of Madrid, is the preferred location of the Chinese tycoon Wang Jianlin, owner of the business conglomerate the Wanda Group, to construct a mega-project containing thousands of homes, a retail complex, theme parks and casinos.

Negotiations

Jianlin, who officially closed the purchase of 20% of Atlético de Madrid’s share capital in January, has been negotiating with the Town Hall and Community of Madrid for months, to identify a location for his residential and leisure complex in the capital. Previously, in June 2014, he bought Edificio España from Banco Santander for €265 million, which was his first transaction in the Spanish market.

In January, when he signed the deal to acquire a stake in the Madrid football club, Jianlin took the opportunity to reiterate his interest in acquiring the land that is now up for sale. The plot housed the Ministry of Defence’s barracks in Madrid for many years.

Wang Jianlin is willing to invest €3,000 million in this project. To do that, the first step will be to acquire the land. By law, this purchase must be made through a competitive process since it involves a public asset.

“The interested parties must participate in a transparent and competitive auction process, in accordance with state legislation for the sale of property”, says the advert.

Auction

The auction of the land by the Ministry of Defence will be led by Pedro Morenés. The plot measures around 1.132 million buildable square metres and the vast majority has been marked for residential use (986,710 square metres). Subsidised and non-subsidised housing may be built on the site.

Wanda’s goal is to construct up to 15,000 high-end homes, with prices of around €4,000 per square metre. Moreover, offices, retail spaces and leisure complexes may also be built on the site. Wang Jianlin wants to use this land to create a leisure complex, similar to the ones he has constructed in Asia. For the time being, the Ministry of Defence has only released information about the land, and has not set a date for the auction or specified a minimum price.

Minimum price

However, sources in the sector estimate that the Government may set the minimum price at just over €200 million, an amount that is expected to be surpassed both by Wang Jianlin’s bid, as well as by the bids made by other interested parties.

The seller has not revealed the auction date, which may be determined by the timings of the local and general elections due to be held in May and November, respectively. To date, the current President of the Community of Madrid, Ignacio González, has shown his willingness to collaborate with the Chinese businessman, following the decision by the US billionaire Sheldon Adelson to abandon the Eurovegas project in Alcorcón.

Original story: Expansión (by R. Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Villar Mir Will Construct A Skyscraper Close To Cuatro Torres

20 April 2015 – Expansión

Project / The owner of OHL and Espacio is going to invest €500 million on the construction of a building behind the Castellana complex in Madrid, which will house a hospital and a shopping centre.

The businessman Juan Miguel Villar Mir (pictured above) is going to promote a new large real estate project in Madrid. The business man, who is in the middle of the construction of a hotel, residential and commercial complex in Canalejas, in the centre of the capital, through his group Villar Mir, has submitted the best offer for the plot of land located just behind the Cuatro Torres Business Area complex.

The land, which has a surface area of 33,325 square metres and a buildable surface area of 70,000 square meters, was originally going house a convention centre. However, in 2010, the Town Hall of Madrid halted the project, despite having already commenced the construction work, due to a lack of funds and, at the end of 2014, it decided to seek an alternative plan. In March, the Government of Ana Botella received several offers – four to be specific.

Other offers

In the end, Grupo Villar Mar has been named as the winner of the tender process, at the expense of the proposal submitted by the Socimi Hispania, which participated with Ferrovial.

Villar Mir made the highest bid, since the group that owns the construction company OHL and the real estate firm Espacio will pay an annual fee of €4 million for the concession, which grants the right to use the plot of land for a period of 75 years. The town hall requested that the winning bidder pay an annual fee of at least €1.935 million. The other bid that was accepted, led by Hispania, offered to pay €2.6 million per year for the plot of land. A third proposal, submitted by Axa, was declared inadmissable due to formal defects and a fourth bid did not meet the minimum fee demanded by the Town Hall, according to sources close to the process.

Villar Mir’s proposal includes a hospital and a shopping centre. The Town Hall of Madrid demanded that around 53,000 square metres of the 70,000 square metres available would be allocated for public use, which will be the hospital area. The remainder, around 17,500 square meters will be turned into a shopping cenetre to provide services for the area.

Villar Mir will place the entire buildable area in a single building, which may have up to 35 floors, similar to Torre Picasso, which is 156 metres tall, compared with the 250 metre high Torre Foster and Torre de Cristal, located next to the future property. “It will be an iconic building”, say sources close to the process.

The company expects to invest €500 million the project, including construction costs, which will amount to around €200 million and the payment of the concession, which will amount to €300 million in total. Villar Mir is negotiating with several hospital groups that already operate in Madrid to become their landlord, although its negotiations with one player in particular are more advanced than with others, explain the same sources.

Currently, the Cuatro Torres complex, located at number 259 Paseo de la Castellana in Madrid, has four skyscrapers: Torre Foster, owned by Bankia and leased to Cepsa; Torre PwC, owned by Testa; Torre de Cristal, owned by Mutua Madrileña; and Torre Espacio, owned by the real estate arm of the Villar Mir group.

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Blackstone Finalises Sale Of The Tucumán Building To Axia RE

26 March 2015 – El Confidencial

The Tucumán Building, located on the Glorieta de Mar de Cristal in Madrid measures 5,083 square metres. Until August 2013, when it was leased by Aegis Media, the asset was very “distressed”.

The talks are in their final phases. The fund Blackstone is finalising the sale of an office building measuring 5,000 square metres in Campo de las Naciones. The purchaser is the Socimi Axia Real Estate and the amount of the transaction is unknown. Blackstone is divesting the Tucumán Building, which it acquired from Sareb at the end of 2014 as part of the so-called Corona project, which also included the Delta Norte II and III office buildings, located to the north of Chamartín, and another office building in Montecarmelo, to the north of the capital. Three other properties also fell outside of that project, which were initially included in the portfolio of the “bad bank”, initially valued at €140 million.

It is not the first acquisition made by Axia Real Estate in Campo de las Naciones. In December 2013, five months after its stock market debut, the Socimi closed the purchase of a portfolio of buildings from Credit Suisse Asset Management for €180 million. The portfolio included the building at number 28 on Calle Ribera del Loira, in the business district of Campo de las Naciones in Madrid, as well as two other properties on Calle Vía de los Pobaldos, in the same area.

“The transaction will not be very relevant in terms of size, but it is very significant in several other respects. Firstly, the buyer is a Socimi, one of the most active investors in the market in the last year. This purchase would be clear signal that these companies are in ‘equity call’. That is, they are resorting to financing or may be considering capital increases to continue buying property”, explain financial sources.

Axia Real Estate raised €360 million through its IPO in July 2014. Since then, not only has it invested all of the funds it raised, it has also turned to financial institutions. In this way, for example, it financed the purchase of a portfolio of assets from Credit Suisse through a combination of own funds and bank financing.

Moreover, this future sale will involve the rotation of the first assets acquired from Sareb and “the fact that those who bought assets are selling them now, and obtaining a profit, sends a clear message to investors, that they can make money from assets purchased from the “bad bank””, explains one real estate source.

On the other hand, according to the experts consulted, this transaction is a clear symptom of the recovery in the Spanish real estate market, since investors have increased their scope beyond the prime area of Madrid. Campo de las Naciones is a fully consolidated business park where several transactions have been closed in recent months.

Besides Axia Real Estate, at the end of 2013, Lar España Real Estate closed the acquisition of the Egeo office building in Campo de las Naciones from the German company MEAG for €64.9 million.

The Tucumán Building, located on the Glorieta de Mar de Cristal has a surface area of 5,083 square meters. It was a very distressed asset until it was occupied by Aegis Media in August 2013. “The building was empty, with no tenants and located in an area that has nothing to do with the main business area of Madrid”, say real estate sources. “Now, however, the real estate situation has changed and the fact that the building has a tenant removes the risk of the property remaining vacant”.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Elena Sanz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Martinsa Has Until Thursday To Convince Its Lender Banks

23 February 2015 – Expansión

Deadline for negotiations / The real estate company has debts of €3,500 million and must reach an agreement with its creditors to avoid liquidation.

Martinsa Fadesa has until Thursday 26 February for its banks to accept the new creditors’ agreement that the real estate company submitted to the judge to deal with its €3,500 million debt and whereby avoid the liquidation of the company.

One of the discrepancies between Martinsa and its creditors is a mismatch of up to 70% in the valuations of its assets. For this reason, entities such as Popular, Caixabank, Abanca and Sareb will not be joining the agreement.

Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court rejected a claim for €1,500 million that the company had filed against the former managers of Fadesa and in doing so further compromised the feasibility of the real estate company controlled and chaired by Fernando Martín.

Moreover, the High Court ordered Martinsa to pay the legal costs (of that trial), which according to financial sources, amounted to €50 million, somewhat higher than the amount for which the company, which lacks liquidity, had make provisions.

On 30 December, Martinsa Fadesa submitted a request to the Commercial Court of La Coruña to reform the creditors agreement that in March 2011 enabled it to avoid the largest bankruptcy in Spanish corporate history. The real estate company has requested a modification to the agreement on the basis that it is impossible for it to meet the debt payment calendar established.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Klépierre Close To Finalising Its Purchase Of Plenilunio

20 February 2015 – Modaes

The French company Klépierre, which specialises in the management of retail properties, is putting the finishing touches to its purchase of the Plenilunio shopping centre. The retail complex located in Madrid is one of the largest in Spain with a gross leasable area (GLA) of 70,000 square metres.

In the final stretch of the sales process, Klépierre has overtaken the fund manager Tiaa Henderson and the German fund Invesco, which have also been bidding for the property in recent weeks.

Currently, Plenilunio is owned by the fund Orion. Klepierre would be willing to pay between €380 million and €390 million for the shopping centre, which comes close to the asking price set by the current owners (€400 million). Negotiations beween Orion and Klépierre are now in full swing and a deal could be reached within the next few days. The sale of Plenilunio would break the record for the purchase of a shopping centre in Spain.

The Madrilenian centre occupies a surface area of 220,000 square metres, of which 70,000 square metres are leasable. Some of the most important fashion brands have stores in the centre, including H&M, Inditex and Primark; the latter operates its largest store in Spain in this centre.

Klépierre has an asset portfolio valued at €14,000 million and has a presence in thirteen European countries, including Italy, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Turkey.

Original story: Modaes

Translation: Carmel Drake