Investment In Offices Soars By 85% In H1 2015 To €1,300M

21 July 2015 – Expansión

Real estate investment in office buildings soared by 85% during the first half of the year to reach €1,300 million and whereby record “one of the best results in the last twenty years”, according to data from Aguirre Newman.

Madrid accounted for three quarters (75%) of the total investment, which was mostly concentrated in the business district of the capital.

Aguirre Newman attributes this remarkable increase in real estate investment (which does not include Merlin’s purchase of Testa), to the “consolidation of the growth of the economy”, the “return” of financing and the prospects of recovery in office rental prices in Spain, which are currently offering higher returns that investing in the stock market.

The firm considers that this “strong investment activity” will continue during the second half of the year, given the operations that are currently in the pipeline, such as the sale of Torre Espacio, one of the four skyscrapers in the Cuatro Torres business district, which the Villar Mir Group is looking to sell, but continue to occupy as the tenant (…).

Socimis and institutional investors led the real estate purchases during the first half of the year – they accounted for almost two thirds (65%) of the total acquisitions made.

On the sales side, financial institutions, insurance companies and institutional investors were the main sellers of property.

The interest shown by investors in office buildings has stemmed from the recovery that the sector is experiencing. During the first half of the year, the rent paid for those kinds of buildings increased by 23.7% in Madrid and 49% in Barcelona.

During H1 2015, in the capital, lease contracts were signed for offices with a total surface area of 262,790 m2 and in Barcelona, the figure was 177,499 m2.

Therefore, the average price of rents continued to rise, to reach €25.35/m2/month in Madrid, where prime rents are now €31/m2/month; meanwhile the average rent in Barcelona is €15.96/m2/month.

Aguirre Newman is confident that the increases in demand for office space and in office rental prices will continue for the next few months.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Meridia Finalises The Purchase Of Nine Buildings From GE

23 February 2015 – Expansión

For €100 million / Javier Faus’ fund will take ownership of the offices located in Barcelona, Sabadell and Madrid.

The fund manager Meridia Capital, led by Javier Faus, the Vice President of Barcelona Football Club, and Juan Barba, the former Director of Transactions at Sareb, is finalising a new acquisition in the Spanish market: a property portfolio currently owned by General Electric Real Estate.

The private equity fund manager has been negotiating the purchase (with GE) for more than two months. The target: a batch of nine office buildings that have a total surface area of 75,000 square metres. The properties are mainly located in Madrid and Barcelona, although there is also one building in Sabadell.

Most of the buildings are located on the outskirts of their respective cities and have an occupancy rate of almost 70%, which means that the fund manager could generate value by increasing the number of tenants and therefore, its rental income.

According to sources close to the process, Meridia will pay General Electric’s real estate division €100 million for the batch.

GE’s real estate arm will present the transaction to its shareholders for approval at the shareholders’ meeting to be held on 4 March in Madrid. GE’s advisor, Cushman & Wakefield, has declined to comment.

A new fund

The fund manager will undertake the transaction through its new fund, Meridian Iberian Real Estate Fund (Miref), the second investment vehicle launched by the company, which it hired Juan Barba to lead.

The previous fund, launched by Faus, was exclusively dedicated to investments in hotels. It purchased eight high-end properties, all over the world; almost all of them have now been sold, with the exception of a hotel in Paris, managed by Starwood’s W brand.

Miref has a budget of €150 million, which could equate to an investment volume of €400 million after accounting for bank financing. The fund seeks to invest in all segments in the real estate market, from offices, to commercial assets, to logistics facilities to hotels.

Miref’s first transactions have included the purchase of Henkel’s former headquarters in Barcelona for €14.4 million, which it plans to convert into a hotel, and the acquisition of a batch of ten Consum supermarkets. Last year, it purchased the Albufera Park shopping centre in Madrid for €21 million, also from GE Real Estate.

Meridia’s acquisition of these nine office buildings is just another example of the interest being shown in offices, which together with commercial assets, are the properties in highest demand. In 2014, investment in these types of properties amounted to €2,500 million (triple the amount invested in 2013), with 67% of the assets located in Madrid and 33% in Barcelona, according to Aguirre Newman.

Original story: Expansión (by R. Ruiz and M. Anglés)

Translation: Carmel Drake