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

Thai Hotelier Minor Acquires 8.6% of NH from Oceanwood

23 May 2018 – Expansión

The Thai hotel company Minor Hotels Group has entered the shareholding of NH Hotels with the purchase of a package of 30 million shares, representing 8.6% of the Spanish hotel chain’s share capital, from the British investment fund Oceanwood for around €190 million, as revealed by Expansión.

The agreement reached between Oceanwood and the company headquartered in Bangkok has been closed for a price of €6.40 per share, slightly above NH’s share price at the end of trading yesterday (€6.35). The hotel chain’s share price has appreciated by 5.83% so far this year. Evercore has been the advisory bank to Minor. On the legal, Baker has advised the Thai firm whilst Garrigues has advised Oceanwood.

Minor, whose shares are listed in Bangkok, has a market capitalisation of USD 6 billion and owns 161 hotels in 26 countries. The chain is the owner of the brands Anantara, Avani, Elewana, Oaks and Tivoli and also operates establishments owned by the chains Four Seasons, Marriott and St. Regis.

The purchase of this share package makes Minor NH’s third-largest shareholder, behind the Chinese holding company NHA, with a 29.5% stake and Grupo Hesperia, in the hands of the businessman José Antonio Castro, with 9%. Oceanwood will continue as the fourth-largest shareholder, with almost 5%, although it will strengthen its weight after exercising the conversion rights of a convertible bond that it subscribed to five years ago and which it will execute soon. The fund first invested in NH in 2013 by purchasing stakes owned by the savings banks and has grown its share over the last few years.

In this way, as a consequence of the conversion of all of NH’s convertible bonds, Oceanwood will hold 9.5% of the share capital post-conversion, assuming that all of NH’s convertible bonds currently in circulation are converted.

The exit of the Chinese

This shareholder move comes in the middle of the divestment process being undertaken by HNA, which in January announced that it had engaged JPMorgan and Benedetto, Gartland and Company to “review” its shareholder position in NH and to identify potential buyers.

That decision by the Chinese group came after Barceló’s failed proposal to merge its businesses with those of its rival NH. The offer, which was overwhelmingly rejected by NH’s Board of Directors, stirred up rumours of a takeover once again. Last week, the Chinese group revealed that, after receiving interest from various investors, it plans to put its 29.5% stake up for sale.

NH, with 380 hotels and around 59,000 rooms, closed the first quarter of 2018 with a net profit of €21.7 million, compared with losses of €24.8 million during the same period in 2017.

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

Axis: Spain’s Banks Will Divest At Least €40bn of Their Problem RE Assets This Year

30 March 2018 – El Mundo

Spain’s banks are still trying to lighten their balance sheets of the huge load left on them by the real estate crisis. Forecasts for this year indicate that they will manage to divest assets worth at least €40 billion including properties, foreclosed land and defaulted and non-performing loans.

Those are the estimates made by the consultancy firm Axis Corporate on the basis of operations that are currently being sounded out in the Spanish real estate sector. The figure includes transactions worth at least €9 billion by Sareb, sales of around €6 billion by Bankia and operations by CaixaBank and Banco Sabadell with a volume of close to €12 billion each. “To all of these operations, we have to add the retail operations that the servicers are currently undertaking”, explains José Masip, Real Estate Partner at Axis Corporate and coordinator of the Assets Under Management Observatory Report published recently by the company.

In 2017, sales of toxic assets linked to real estate exceeded €50 billion, “almost twice the €27.4 billion sold between 2012 and 2016”, says the report. Spanish entities are accelerating the clean up of this type of asset from their balance sheets to reduce their default rates and fulfil the European regulations that force entities to reduce the weight of non-performing assets to pre-crisis levels. Despite that and according to data from the consultancy firm JLL, the volume of non-performing assets with real estate collateral in the hands of the banks and Sareb amounts to around €200 billion: €80 billion in REOs (foreclosed assets) and €120 billion in NPLs (Non Performing Loans or doubtful credits).

Greater weight of funds

Both firms predict that the rate of sales seen last year will continue in 2018, above all due to the growing interest from international investment funds (…).

The main investment funds focused on the purchase of real estate assets in Spain are Bain Capital, Oaktree, EOS Spain, Apollo and Axactor, who are following in the footsteps of others such as Blackstone and Cerberus.

The latter two entities starred in the two most important operations of last year. In July, Santander sold a portfolio comprising 51% of the toxic property it had inherited following the purchase of Banco Popular to Blackstone in an operation worth €5.1 billion; meanwhile, in November, BBVA sold 80% of its real estate portfolio to Cerberus for around €4 billion. In a similar operation, also in 2017, Liberbank sold part of its toxic portfolio to the funds Bain and Oceanwood for €602 million.

The transactions were structured through the creation of joint ventures in all cases, in which the bank held a minority percentage of the company or servicer and the acquiring fund took over the bulk of the management. According to Emilio Portes, Director of the Portfolio Business at JLL for Southern Europe, “the structure offers entities a stake in the profits of the assets with upside potential at the same time as cleaning up their balance sheets and slightly improving their capital ratios. Similarly, it offers buyers more advantageous prices without limiting their strategy and management capacity”.

Indeed, in Axis’s opinion, those servicers are expected to be some of the main players in the market over the short and medium term. According to data from the consultancy firm, more than 80% of the assets under management are in the hands of five of them: Altamira (linked to Santander), Servihabitat (CaixaBank), Haya/Anida (controlled by Cerberus after the operation with BBVA), Aliseda/Anticipa (Blackstone) and Solvia (Sabadell). The outlook for this year points to greater concentration in the sector, “with the possible sale of some of the existing servicers”, in such a way that their specialisation and differentiation will be definitive.

Original story: El Mundo (by María Hernández)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Chinese Conglomerate HNA Wants to Sell its Stake in NH Hotels

19 January 2018 – El Mundo

The largest shareholder of NH Hotels, the Chinese conglomerate HNA, is considering the possibility of divesting its stake in the Spanish hotel group. It has engaged the entities JPMorgan and Benedetto Gartland to identify possible buyers for its 29.3% participation in the Spanish hotel chain.

The Chinese investor group has submitted this information to the National Securities and Markets Commission (CNMV), explaining that it has engaged the aforementioned entities “to review its shareholding position in the NH Hotel Group”, which it holds through its company Tangla Spain, “which includes the identification of possible buyers for its stake”.

It was only a week ago that the Board of NH unanimously rejected the merger proposed by the Barceló group. This possible sale could be driven by the need for liquidity but the rejection decision may have precipitated the move by the Chinese firm.

The Chinese investor group had entered NH in 2013 with an initial participation of 20% through the subscription of a capital increase amounting to €234.28 million, which it increased to 29.5% in November 2015, after purchasing the 8.33% stake that the entity Intesa Sanpaolo held in the listed hotel chain.

Nevertheless, the disagreements arose shortly after its entry into the Spanish group’s share capital. The purchase of Carlson Rezidor, a rival of the Spanish hotel group in certain markets, resulted in the exclusion of the Chinese company from NH’s Board due to a conflict of interest. The letters confirming these disagreements were made public and the parties even came to a head in the courts.

HNA needs to obtain liquidity to pay off a debt that it took out in 2015, after carrying out several acquisitions worth USD 40 billion (€32.65 billion). And in December, it announced its intention to sell assets worth US 6 billion (€4.897 billion).

By the middle of November, the Asian conglomerate had sold 1.14% of its share capital in the Spanish hotel group, which meant divesting 4 million shares, whereby obtaining some liquidity.

Based on the current composition of NH’s shareholders, HNA is followed by the investment fund Oceanwood, with 12%, and the Hesperia Investor Group, with 9%.

Original story: El Mundo (by Silvia Fernández)

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

Unicaja Sells 4,000 Properties to Axactor

14 December 2017 – El Confidencial

Another transaction involving the sale of real estate assets by one of the banks. Grupo Unicaja has sold a portfolio of 4,000 real estate assets, whose gross value amounts to €252 million, to the Norwegian player Axactor.

The foreclosed assets are divided into two companies in which the Andalucian entity will continue to control a 25% stake, whilst the other 75% stake will be taken over by the Nordic fund. The operation will not have a significant impact on Unicaja’s income statement, according to a report sent by the bank to the CNMV.

This agreement follows the path marked by Santander, which in the summer fired the starting gun for a generalised move in the sector towards the rapid deconsolidation of the bulk of its real estate exposure.

The entity chaired by Ana Botín transferred 51% of a €30 billion portfolio to Blackstone; BBVA then sold 80% of a €13 billion portfolio to Cerberus; and Liberbank recently sold 90% of a €600 million portfolio to Bain and Oceanwood.

Axactor and Unicaja have agreed that one of the entity’s subsidiaries, the company Gestión de Inmuebles Adquiridos (GIA), will be responsible for the administration and marketing of the properties.

Over the last year, Unicaja has reduced its non-performing assets by €1.19 billion, equivalent to 21% of the non-performing assets (most doubtful foreclosed assets) that it held on its balance sheet at the end of 2016.

Original story: El Confidencial

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

Barceló Offers €2.48bn For NH & Sets 3-Month Negotiation Period

21 November 2017 – Expansión

To create a hotel colossus with more than 600 hotels and 109,000 rooms in Europe, Latin America and the USA, and one of the largest tourism companies in Spain. With this objective in mind, the Barceló group has initiated contact with the NH Hotel Group to propose one of the largest hotel mega-operations in recent years in Spain.

Barceló is offering a swap equation that involves valuing each NH share at €7.08. In other words, it is willing to pay €2.48 billion for the company in total. That valuation represents a premium of 27% over the group’s average share price during the three months leading up to 30 October, of €5.56. Moreover, that premium rises to 41% if we consider the company’s closing price last Friday of €5.

Yesterday at 12:30, Spain’s National Securities and Exchanges Commission (CNMV) lifted the suspension on trading that had been weighing down on NH’s shares, but the avalanche of purchase orders meant that it took another 45 minutes for the shares to actually start trading again. By the close of business, NH’s list price had soared by 11.8%, to €5.59. In this way, its market capitalisation rose from €1,751 million on Friday to exceed €1,950 million. So far this year, the hotel company has seen its share price rise by more than 46%, however, it is still well below the €14.70 per share that it reached in 2007, at the height of its stock market boom.

Barceló submitted to the CNMV a letter sent by Simón Pedro Barceló, Co-President of Group Barceló, to the Chairman of the Board of Directors of NH, Alfredo Fernández Agras, in which he proposes considering the merger of the two companies. According to the initial proposal, the Mallorca-based firm would end up owning 60% of the merged group. Barceló explains that his interest in this merger stems from “the great strategic sense and the exceptional potential for the creation of value for the shareholders of both companies”.

The letter also opens the door for the merged group’s corporate headquarters to be located in Madrid and it proposes that the maximum governing body of the merged company, in which Grupo Barceló would hold a majority stake, would have sufficient members to ensure that the existing shareholders of NH are represented.

Barceló proposes a merger, in other words, “the integration of Grupo Barceló and NH through the delivery of new shares issued by NH to Grupo Barceló, keeping the company listed”. “Our intention is to integrate all of the assets and liabilities of Grupo Barceló, including our Hotel and Travel divisions, which we believe could contribute value to the combined group. Nevertheless, we are willing to consider different alternatives regarding the perimeter of the assets and liabilities in order to facilitate the success of the transaction”, said Barceló.

Three months to reach an agreement

The offer, which is non-binding and conditional upon a due diligence (detailed analysis) provides for a period of “up to 3 months for the completion of this work, to reach an agreement between the two parties and submit a transaction to our respective governing bodies for definitive approval”. In fact, Barceló said that he is willing to consider alternatives with respect to the perimeter of the operation to facilitate it.

If the proposal ends up going ahead, it would result in the creation of the largest Spanish hotel group, ahead of Meliá, which at the end of 2016, had 375 hotels and 96,369 rooms. It would become one of the largest players in the sector in Europe, behind only the British firm InterContintental and the French company Accor.

Barceló has engaged Santander as financial advisor for the operation and has not hired any legal advisor.

NH views the offer with suspicion

From the get-go, the offer has been viewed with suspicion by NH, which indicated to the CNMV that it had received “an unsolicited, preliminary and non-binding expression of interest” from Barceló for the merger of the two businesses.

According to this offer, Barceló would have “a majority on the administrative board”. Moreover, NH reminded the regulator that its Board of Directors recently approved a 3-year strategic plan “involving an independent project for significant growth, which is still valid today”.

NH’s largest shareholder is the Chinese giant HNA, which holds a 29.5% stake, but it is not represented on the Board of Directors following its expulsion last year due to a conflict of interest. After HNA is the British fund Oceanwood, with a 12% stake; and Hesperia, the chain chaired by José Antonio Castro, with a 9% stake.

Analysts think the merger makes “strategic sense” 

Analysts at Renta 4 and Bankinter agree with Barceló that the operation makes “strategic sense”.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo and M. L. Verbo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sale Of Habitat Set To Close This Week Despite Catalan Crisis

15 November 2017 – El Confidencial

Last weekend marked the deadline for the three funds interested in buying the Catalan real estate company Habitat, namely Apollo, Bain and Oaktree, to submit their binding offers. Despite constituting one of the most important real estate sales of our times, there have been doubts in the market about the impact that the sovereign challenge in Cataluña may have on the appetite of these three investment giants. Their parent companies have ended up living through the worst moments of the crisis once again, requesting regular reports about the political situation in Spain.

And in the end, all three interested parties decided to push ahead and put their binding offers on the table for the purchase of the real estate company, which is worth between €200 million and €250 million. Irea, which has been engaged by the shareholders of Habitat to lead the sales process, plans to explain to them the pros and cons of each proposal between now and Friday, the day when the winner of the process is expected to be chosen.

Sources consulted by El Confidencial state that the most attractive offers were those presented by Bain and Apollo and they all but rule out Oaktree‘s chances. According to the schedule, the players behind the two best offers will be given the opportunity to fine-tune their proposals between today and Friday. Although the possibility also exists that Irea may choose the best proposal, without asking for any improvements, to present it directly to the shareholders of Habitat.

One way or another, the idea is that this week, the winner of the quest for Habitat will be chosen, a transaction that the interested parties are looking to complete before the end of the year.

Buildable land platform

The purchase of Habitat will allow the successful buyer to acquire an important platform through which to benefit from the recovery of the Spanish residential property development market. That desire has had a strong impact on the parent companies of the three interested funds, all from the US, allowing them to overlook the political and economic uncertainty unleashed by the independence challenge.

Habitat is the heir of the former Ferrovial Inmobiliaria, a company that the firm controlled then by Bruno Figueras acquired for €2,200 million at the end of 2006; that operation that gave rise to the fifth largest property developer in Spain. But, just two years later, during the first few months of the crisis in the sector, the company filed for the fourth largest creditor bankruptcy of all time, with debt amounting to €2,800 million.

Although it managed to get out of that hole in 2010, five years later Figueras was forced to cede control to the creditor funds, and firms such as Capstone, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Värde and Marathon acquired 70% of the share capital when the bulk of the debt was converted into shares. (…).

Bain, Apollo and Oaktree have all been trying to acquire a large domestic property developer for some time now, to allow them to create a large group through which to benefit from the recovery in the market. In fact, the former has just acquired, together with Oceanwood, €602 million in real estate assets from Liberbank, whilst Apollo fought to the end to acquire the €30,000 million portfolio of toxic assets from Banco Popular that was sold in the summer.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake