Hyatt to Operate 2 of Hesperia’s Hotels in Madrid & Barcelona

7 March 2019 – Expansión

After breaking off its alliance with NH last year, following that firm’s takeover by the Thai Group Minor, Hesperia is now joining forces with Hyatt. The US hotel giant is going to take over the operation of the two jewels in Hesperia’s crown: the Hesperia Madrid and the Hesperia Barcelona Tower. Hyatt will operate the two 5-star properties on a franchise basis under its Hyatt Regency brand from Q4 2019.

This deal forms part of a broader strategic approach by Hesperia, which has also teamed up with Apple Leisure Group for the management of four of its holiday hotels.

Original story: Expansión (by R. Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

CBRE: Hotel Investment Set a New Record of €4.9bn in 2018

10 January 2019 – Expansión

The hotel segment broke a new record last year thanks to two key operations: the takeover of Hispania by the US fund Blackstone and the takeover of the chain NH by the Thai firm Minor.

The hotel segment made history again in 2018 with a record investment volume of €4.9 billion, which represented an increase of 33% with respect to the previous year, boosted by the US fund Blackstone’s takeover of the Socimi Hispania and the Thai firm Minor’s takeover of the Spanish chain NH.

According to data from the consultancy CBRE, last year, 240 hotel assets were transacted in Spain spanning 36,500 rooms in total, which represents growth of 17% and 30%, respectively. In other words, more and larger-volume operations were closed in 2018 than in 2017.

The hotel market whereby completed five extraordinary years, driven by the excellent evolution of tourism. Spain is a market leader in this activity, with 81.9 million international visitors in 2017 and 81.2 million last year (…).

The most active investors in 2018 were institutional players, which accounted for 66% of operations, followed by hotel groups (21%) and private equity and family offices (13%). In the ranking of operations, the purchase of Hispania stands out, which ended up in the hands of Blackstone after the fund acquired more than 90% of that company. The US giant purchased the Hungarian-born magnate George Soros’ 16.56% stake in Hispania in April and, subsequently, launched a takeover valuing the company at €1.992 billion. After successfully completing the takeover in September, Blackstone became the largest hotel owner in Spain, with a portfolio of 46 assets and more than 13,144 rooms.

After the purchase of Hispania, came the takeover of NH by Minor. Following that operation, the Thai group became the owner of a portfolio of 350 hotels in Europe and Latin America – 30% of which are in Spain.

Other significant operations also included the entry into the market of the Chinese group Gaw Capital, which acquired 50% of the Hospes Hotel Group, worth €125 million, teaming up with Omega Capital, the family office owned by Alicia Koplowitz, owner of the other 50% of the chain.

In terms of individual assets, the purchase of the luxury Villa Magna Hotel in Madrid stands out. The Turkish group Dogus sold it to the Mexican Socimi RLH, chaired by Allen Sanginés-Krause for €210 million.

Renovation

The National Director of CBRE Hotels España, Jorge Ruiz, explained that, as well as the vertiginous sale of hotel assets, the notable investments in asset renovations stood out once again.

“The Spanish hotel stock is better equipped today to face the challenges on the horizon, such as the recovery of competing destinations, the impact of a hard Brexit and a slowdown in the Spanish economy”, he said.

Ruiz explained that, unlike during the previous upward cycle, hoteliers have opted to invest in renovating their portfolios, which will allow them to increase their prices.

In terms of the type of assets, vacation hotels accounted for 64% of investments, following the trend established in 2017, due in large part to the purchase of Hispania, whose hotels are located primarily on the Spanish islands and along the coastline. Investment in urban assets went from 40% to 36%. In 2018, the main star asset were 4-star hotels, which accounted for 64% of operations, followed by 5-star hotels, with 21%.

Star destinations

By destination, the Canary Islands accounted for 35% of investment, followed by the Balearic Islands, with 20%. The third-ranked location was Madrid, with 12%, followed by Barcelona (8%) and Málaga (5%) (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Hispanotels Debuts with a Stable Share Price on the MAB

14 December 2018 – Eje Prime

Hispanotels has made its debut on the stock market with a stable share price. The Socimi, which owns four hotels managed by NH, made its debut today on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB), with a share price of €5.90, which did not vary at all during its first day of trading.

During the first hours of trading, there were 855 purchase orders at €5.85 and 845 sales orders at €5.95 for Hispanotels’ shares. That reference value for its stock market debut valued the company at €65.93 million.

The company, which is the 21st Socimi to make its debut on the stock market in 2018, is dedicated to the acquisition and development of real estate properties of an urban nature for their rental. Founded in 1947, around 53% of Hispanotels’ shares are owned by eight members of the Fontcuberta family and the remaining 47% is controlled by around thirty minority shareholders.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

AC Hotels to Invest €5M in its First ‘Autograph’ in Valencia

1 October 2018 – El Mundo

AC Hotels, owned by the Navarran businessman Antonio Catalán, has acquired the rights to operate the former CAM building in Valencia, on the central street, Calle Pascual y Genís. Until now, the tenant was the Valencian firm Join Contract, which was granted use of the property by Solvia Group (Banco Sabadell) for 30 years in July, and which is now placing that use into the hands of this prestigious chain.

According to sources speaking to El Mundo, the firm AC Hotels competed against other major chains in the sector including NH and Barceló, as well as the local chain Grupo Intur, owned by the Gimeno family, which controls a large proportion of the major hotels in Benicàssim. Nevertheless, AC Hotels, which already has a hotel very close to what will become its newest location, decided to push hard for this site to whereby expand its business with the construction of what will be its first luxury hotel in Valencia.

That is why it will be called ‘Autograph’, the high-end brand that this operator uses to distinguish its top hotels. It will be the first of its kind in Valencia, although the firm has other luxury hotels with these characteristics operating under the same brand in Madrid and Barcelona.

Sources familiar with the operation have said that AC Hotels is going to invest almost €5 million in the renovation of the iconic building. If there are no delays, the building work will begin before the end of the year. The execution of the work will be carried out by the Valencian firm Join Contract, the same entity that has transferred the use of the asset to AC Hotels for 30 years (…).

More than 60 rooms

Although the project is still in its preliminary phase, some details have been published about the future AC Hotels Autograph. With a surface area of 4,500 m2 (580 m2 per floor), the hotel will have around 60 rooms, including suites and standard rooms. There will be a restaurant and hall on the ground floor, and there will be a small swimming pool for guests on the roof (…). The building will have nine floors in total, two of which will be used for parking (…).

Antonio Catalán, leader in the sector

AC Hoteles, from Antonio Catalán, is one of the leading chains in the hotel sector in Spain. It was founded in 1997 by this established Navarran businessman, who previously sold the NH chain to an investment fund for €70 million. After founding AC Hoteles, Catalán sold half of his shares to the chain Marriott for €80 million. Today they have more than 140 hotels open or under development around the world (…).

Original story: El Mundo (by Sergio Aspas)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Elliott & Minor Enter the Bidding for HNA’s Stake in NH

30 May 2018 – Expansión

The bidding to acquire the stake owned by the Chinese holding company HNA in NH is entering the home stretch. The Asian giant has set this week as the deadline for the receipt of binding offers for its 29.5% stake in NH, which will be diluted to 25.5% following the execution of the hotel chain’s convertible bonds that are currently in circulation.

The investment funds that have made it to the final round are Lone Star, which has joined forces with the US hotel chain Hyatt to launch its offer, as well as Apollo and Elliott, who have also expressed their interest. Meanwhile, Starwood Capital and Blackstone, which both analysed the operation, have been excluded from the process.

The offers from the funds fall in the range of between €5.50 and €6.00 per share, according to market sources. Yesterday, NH’s share price closed at €6.39. Other sources explain that the funds have signed a standstill with the company so as to not exceed 20% in NH following the operation and whereby avoid having to launch a takeover bid for 100% of the entity at a low price.

These funds have also been joined by the Thai hotel chain Minor, which last week acquired €30 million of Oceanwood’s shares, representing 8.6% of NH, for around €190 million. The agreement includes a pact whereby the manager concedes Minor the right to exclusively negotiate the purchase of the rest of its stake in NH, which, after the bond conversion, will amount to 9.5%.

If it were to acquire all of HNA’s stake, Minor would clearly exceed the 30% threshold that would oblige it to launch a takeover bid for the entire company. In that scenario, the Thai group, whose shares are traded on the Hong Kong stock market, would have a number of alternatives: sell some of its stake on the market, buy fewer shares from HNA or request permission from the shareholders to launch a takeover bid (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Oceanwood to Strengthen its Position in NH Following €280M Capital Increase

8 May 2018 – Expansión

The British investment fund Oceanwood is going to strengthen its position in the hotel chain NH Hotel Group, of which it is currently the second largest shareholder with a 12% stake, following the capital increase that the company is expected to carry out in the near future.

The hotel chain is going to increase its share capital to finance a convertible bond issue undertaken in 2013, which is due to expire at the end of this year, but which may be exchanged for shares before the end of that period, in accordance with the conditions of the issue.

NH will handover 50.8 million shares to the bondholders, equivalent to 14.5% of the existing share capital. The company already has 7.5 million own shares, and so the capital increase will involve the issue of 43 million new shares, which at current market prices represents a total sum of around €280 million. With this operation, NH will manage to reduce its debt with the issue of new shares and will thereby advance with its objective to improve its level of leverage.

Of NH’s major shareholders, Oceanwood was the only one to participate in the issue, subscribing almost 30% of the debt, which means that its stake will amount to 15.5%, whilst HNA, with 29.5% of the share capital and Grupo Hespería, in the hands of the businessman José Antonio Castro, with 9%, will see their stakes in NH diluted. The price of the conversion was set at €4.92 per share back in the day, whereas NH’s share price closed yesterday at €6.43, which implies a 30% appreciation over the conversion price.

Although the bond is not due to expire until November, the Board of Directors has the authority to force its conversion ahead of time given that one of the conditions included to that effect in the brochure has been fulfilled. Specifically, the conditions of the issue indicated that in the event that NH’s share price rises above €6.39 for more than 20 days during a 30 day period, then the company could force the conversion. That situation was achieved last week. The board met on Wednesday to present the company’s results.

Last October, NH announced that it had fully repaid and cancelled all of the senior debt obligations issued amounting to €250 million, with maturity in 2019 and whose principal pending payment amounted to €100 million.

The group’s gross debt amounted to €736 million at the end of last year and the bulk of that debt is due to mature in 2023.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Orenes Buys Rest of Gran Casino Extremadura for €6M

6 February 2018 – Infoplay

The Gran Hotel Zurbarán de Badajoz, which houses Casino Extremadura, is changing hands once again three years after it was acquired by the Extremeñan bullfighter Miguel Ángel Perera (who is from Puebla del Prior and who now lives in Olivenza) and his partner Miguel Moreno, son of Gregorio Moreno Pidal. They have just sold the property to a group of businessmen from the hotel sector with a strong and consolidated presence in Badajoz. According to sources close to the operation, the new owners are the company Orenes, José Luis Iniesta, from the company that owns the Río de Badajoz Hotel Complex, and a third partner based in Madrid.

La Crónica de Badajoz newspaper reported a figure of €6 million changing hands and added that Orenes and Río were until now owners of the facilities of the Gran Casino Extremadura, for which they obtained the concession to operate from the Junta de Extremadura, as the owners of the only five-star hotel in the city, managed by NH. It just so happens that José Luis Iniesta, a businessman in the hotel and farm sectors and owner of Hotel Río – which is currently linked to the hotel room management company Mercure – has divested his shares in the Gran Casino company.

The businessman has sold his shares to his partner Orenes, for a figure of around €6 million. In this way, Orenes now owns 100% of that company, whilst Iniesta holds 100% of Río, according to the same sources.

The Gran Hotel Zurbarán sale operation was carried out by private contract on 27 December 2017 but has not yet been notarised as it is pending approval from the competition authorities. In this way, Orenes and Iniesta hold onto 80% of the ownership of the Gran Hotel.

Original story: Infoplay 

Translation: Carmel Drake

NH Rejects Barceló’s Offer But is Willing to Consider Other Proposals

11 January 2018 – Expansión

Yesterday, the Board of Directors of the NH Hotel Group revealed its position regarding the proposal made by Barceló to merge the two businesses. And, although it expressed its “unanimous” rejection of the offer, it did say it was willing to consider future “strategic opportunities” within the framework of “the consolidation trends that are prevailing in the sector”.

“The Board has carefully considered the fact that the proposed structure – a merger – would not allow for the creation of value for our shareholders over and above that already forecast for NH operating independently”. In its analysis, the Board does not consider appropriate “either the intrinsic value assigned to NH by the Barceló Group’s offer, or its scope or the exchange ratio offered”, according to the explanation presented to the CNMV.

The Co-President of Barceló, Simón Pedro Barceló, sent a letter addressed to NH’s Board of Directors in November, proposing the integration of the two groups to create a “national champion” with more than 600 hotels and 110,000 rooms around the world, as Expansión revealed on 20 November.

The Mallorcan group proposed taking control of 60% of the resultant (merged) company and for the remaining 40% to end up in the hands of the shareholders of the NH Hotel Group. It also set the price of the latter at €7.08 per share, which meant valuing the company at €2.48 billion.

Exchange ratio

For NH’s most senior governing body, which met yesterday for the second time to analyse the proposal made by its competitor, the exchange ratio proposed by Barceló does not reflect the relative valuation of the two companies, nor does it incorporate a control premium over NH’s share value or take into account the potential appreciation in the firm’s share price operating independently. Moreover, NH’s directors emphasised that the offer does not open a window of liquidity for its shareholders. The offer – which is non-binding and conditional upon a due diligence (detailed analysis) – proposes an integration with NH Hotel in exchange for shares issued by the latter, with the resultant company being listed. This operation, therefore, would effectively allow Barceló – which is owned by the third generation of the family of the same name – to debut on the stock market.

“The Board has valued very negatively the fact that the offer from Grupo Barceló lacks liquidity for NH’s shareholders”, reiterated the Board of the listed company.

NH’s Board of Directors includes Alfredo Fernández Agras, representative of Oceanwood (with 12% of NH’s share capital); José Antonio Castro and Jordi Ferrer Graupera, both representatives of Hesperia, with a 9.1% stake; and Ramón Aragonés, CEO of NH. By contrast, HNA does not have a presence on the Board, despite being the majority shareholder, with a 29.5% stake. The Chinese giant was expelled (from the Board) in June 2016 due to a conflict of interest after it signed a purchase agreement with Carlson Rezidor, which competes with the Spanish firm in certain European countries.

Sources at Barceló expressed their respect regarding NH’s decision, although they acknowledged that the position adopted by their rival left them with “a bitter taste since they had not been able to convince the Board of the good intentions behind the operation”. And they added: “We think that the offer was good for the Spanish hotel industry, the shareholders of NH and Barceló and the economy of the country as a whole, which would have benefitted from having a national champion to go out and compete seriously overseas”.

In response to NH’s rejection, Barceló “said the discussion was over”. According to sources at the company, “no other proposals are possible”.

The decision of NH’s Board of Directors was made public at the end of trading. NH’s shares finished trading yesterday at a price of €6.115 per share, after rising by 1.83%. Since Barceló expressed its interest in NH, the share price of the latter has increased by 22% (…).

NH closed 2016 with sales of €1.475 billion, an EBITDA of €181 million and a net profit of €30.8 million. The group’s strategic plan for the next three years forecasts a recurring profit of €100 million and an EBITDA of up to €290 million in 2019.

Meanwhile, Barceló closed 2016 with turnover of €2.855 billion, net sales of €1.98 billion, an EBITDA of €339 million and a net profit of €125 million.

At the operating level, NH has 380 hotels and 59,000 rooms in more than thirty countries, whilst Barceló owns more than 230 hotels in 22 countries and almost 52,000 rooms.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

NH’s Board Will Assess Potential Merger with Barceló on 20 December

2 December 2017 – Expansión

Advisors / NH Hotel Group and Grupo Barceló have made initial contact through their advisor banks, Merrill Lynch and Banco Santander, respectively.

Progress is being made in what is shaping up to be the mega-operation of the decade in the hotel sector in Spain. The members of the most senior governing body of NH Hotel Group have agreed to meet on 20 December to study a possible merger with the firm’s rival Grupo Barceló.

At the meeting, NH’s Board of Directors will address the proposal made by its rival to integrate the businesses of the two groups and create a “national giant” with more than 600 hotels and 109,000 rooms around the world. This hotel giant would be controlled by Barceló (60% stake), and the current shareholders of NH would hold the remaining 40% share, as Expansión revealed on 20 November.

NH’s directors will consider preliminary reports from Merrill Lynch at this first meeting. The bank has been chosen by the hotel group’s management committee to analyse the operation.

The letter signed by Simón Pedro Barceló, Co-President of Grupo Barceló’s Board of Directors, is dated 14 November, which is when NH’s Board of Directors last met to approve the firm’s quarterly accounts. Nevertheless, the operation in question was not discussed at that meeting.

In his letter, Barceló proposed a period of up to three months to complete the preliminary work and submit a transaction proposal for approval by the governing bodies of both companies. Barceló, which in its offer letter values NH at €2,480 million, has engaged Banco Santander to analyse the operation. The financial advisors of the two companies are now in contact.

Stock price increase

NH’s shares have soared in value by more than 20% since Barceló announced its intention to integrate the two companies.

Barceló’s proposal values each NH share at €7.08, which would represent a premium of 17% over the current list price of €6.03. The endorsement of the market for this operation, as well as the first valuations of the advisor bank, will be one of the matters that the members of the Board will take into account.

NH’s most senior governing body is chaired by Alfredo Fernández Agras, who represents the British fund Oceanwood (which holds a 12% stake in NH). Moreover, its members include Ramón Aragonés –CEO of NH–, José Antonio Castro Sousa and Jordi Ferrer Graupera, both representatives of Hesperia.

The group chaired by Castro – a priori, one of the people who is most opposed to the agreement – announced on Monday that it had early repaid a loan granted by Santander for €122.7 million guaranteed by 31,870,384 NH shares, representing 9.1% of the share capital (its stake in the group).

To repay that loan, which was due to expire on 23 December 2017, the company has signed a new financing agreement with Société Générale for €97.55 million, guaranteed by the same shares, explain financial sources to Expansión.

By contrast, HNA does not have any representatives on the Board of Directors, even though it is the company’s largest shareholder, with a 29.5% stake.

The Chinese conglomerate was expelled in June 2016 due to a conflict of interest after it made an agreement to buy Carlson Rezidor, which competes with the Spanish firm in several European countries.

In its place, Paul Daniel Johnson, Fernando Lacadena Azpeitia, María Grecna and José María Cantero de Montes-Jovellar were appointed, at the request of the funds, to serve as independent directors. José María López-Elola González and José María Sagardoy also feature in that category.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Hotelier Catalonia Leads Ranking of Spain’s Top 15 Tourism Companies by Gross Margin

24 November 2017 – Preferente

Catalonia, the hotel chain based in Barcelona and owned by the Vallet family, leads the first ranking compiled by preferente.com of the Top 15 Spanish tourism companies by gross margin in 2016, with a 30.2% gross profit on its sales. It is followed by large hotel chains such as the Ibiza-based Palladium, and the Mallorcan-based Grupo Piñero and Riu, which all generated gross margins of more than 20% during the last financial year.

The chain owned by the Matutes family is the second in the ranking after obtaining an estimated gross margin of 28.6% on its sales in 2016; it is followed by the group owned by the Piñero family, which includes the Bahía Príncipe and Soltour businesses, with a gross margin of 24.2%; and the chain owned by the Riu family, with a gross margin of 23.8% and the leader of the ranking by EBITDA.

Completing the Top 5 is another large chain and another Catalan firm: H10, which recorded a gross profit on its sales of 19.8% in 2016, followed by Grupo Barceló, with a gross margin of 14.2%, which would have been greater if it did not include in its sales the intermediation activity of Ávoris, which generates higher volumes but lower margins.

After Group Barceló in the ranking comes Grupo Iberostar, which comprises Almundo and World2Meet; and then the hotel groups NH and Meliá, which all exceeded or equalled a gross profit of 10% of sales in 2016. After those companies come the Canarian firm Lopesan and the Catalan firm Hotusa, which groups together Keytel and Restel, with similar gross margins of around 9% over sales.

A vertically integrated tourism group: an airline, a travel agency and a bed bank follow them in the ranking. At number 12 is Globalia, the parent company of Air Europa and Halcón Viajes, with a gross margin of 3.8% of sales, followed very closely by Iberia (3.7%) and Viajes El Corte Inglés (2.4%). The B2B firm Hotelbeds appears in fifteenth place with an estimated gross margin of 2% in 2016, a year when it had not yet completed the purchase of Tourico and GTA, the first of which generates significant EBITDA.

In this way, according to the ranking prepared by the leading tourism website, the chains with the greatest presence in the Caribbean and those dedicated exclusively to resorts are those that generate the greatest gains with respect to their revenues. Meanwhile, the conglomerates that also include intermediaries would have higher gross margin figures if they only reflected their hotel businesses, given that although they invoice less, they are more profitable.

Original story: Preferente (by Andrea Bulla)

Translation: Carmel Drake