Villar Mir Sells 10% Of Colonial To Support The Expansion Of OHL

10 September 2015 – Expansión

200 MILLION REVENUE / The businessman takes a step back in the real estate sector to cover his part in the one billion Macro enlargement of the construction company, which he wants to launch this same month.

Twenty months after landing on Colonial, the Villar Mir group has decided to step back from the real estate to protect its interests in OHL, for which the group needs funds worth 500 million euros to cover its share in the Macro enlargement of one billion euros, so not to lose majority control in the construction company.

Part of these funds come from Colonial. Yesterday, the family holding company, main shareholder of the group with 24.5%, informed the CNMV of an accelerated placement of 10% of its share, a sale that completed within a few hours for nearly 200 million euros. Colonial closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange with 0.6 euros per share, a rise of 0.6%.

Next to 4.3% of Abertis (controlling another 14% of the motorway company through OHL), Colonial is listed as the most liquid asset of Grupo Villar Mir. Last Monday, Juan Miguel Villar Mir himself hinted he could use some of the assets of the family corporation to support the expansion of the construction company. “We have 7 billion in assets to back up the operation.”

Shares guarantees

There also was a speculation on the market about the possible sale of Torre Espacio as a source of extra income, but the selling process of the Madrid skyscraper has slowed and probably will be postponed until 2016 because of the tax advantages. According to the consulted financial sources, there are eight indications of interest in the assets that could be valued at about 600 million euros.

The Villar Mir Group could also cash in 4.3% stake in Abertis (worth about 597 million euros) but the company president has ruled it out due to the stability of the market value and its high dividend guaranteed.

To complete the necessary funds for bringing forward the expansion of OHL, Villar Mir may soon sign a loan with a group of banks. As it controls 59.5% of OHL, it can also offer for sale part of its subscription rights, without coming down to 50%.

According to the latest data provided by the business group, Villar Mir has a credit of 300 million tied to its stake in Colonial. In principle, the loan is guaranteed by the real estate’s own shares, so it is likely that Villar Mir will have to ask bank’s permission to divest 10% of Colonial.

Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley are responsible for coordinating the sale of 318.8 million shares. The terms of the accelerated sale will be announced today.

OHL is currently the greatest concern of Villar Mir, severely penalized on the stock market for financial difficulties and unleashed speculation after the scandal affecting its concessions subsidiary in Mexico. Yesterday, OHL closed at 12.2 euros per share, an increase of 3.3%. In one year the price of the construction company accumulated a decline of over 50% and the value is conditioned by the size of the expansion itself, which will cause a significant dilution among current shareholders who choose not to support the investment.

Another circumstance against OHL was the poor performance of international building business, which in 2014 forced the group to make provisions of 300 million euros for several failed deals in Canada, Qatar and Algeria. Another risk factor for the group is its funding secured with the titles in listed companies (OHL Mexico and Abertis), which will have to be extended if stocks fall.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Lee La

Mandarin Oriental Enters The Bidding War To Buy The Ritz

12 February 2015 – Cinco Días

A new chapter has begun in the bidding war to buy the Ritz in Madrid, one of the most emblematic hotels in the capital. The property has been on the market for almost two years, but may have a new owner in a matter of days. Mandarin Oriental, one of the largest Asian luxury hotel chains, has set its sights on the hotel, which is currently controlled by Orient-Express and Omega Capital, the investment company owned by Alicia Koplowitz.

The owners of the Ritz have been looking for a buyer for the property for almost two years, which, despite its prime location and the power of its brand, has lost much of its appeal in recent years, due to a lack of investment. This has meant that all of the operators that have shown an interest in acquiring the property have identified the need to undertake a major refurbishment, which has played against a quick sale.

Despite that, Orient-Express, now known as Belmond, and Omega have remained steadfast in their price expectations, which led Marriott to placing an offer for €130 million on the table; the transaction fell through at the last minute, when it seemed like every blessing had been given. The problem was that, by adding the purchase cost to the amount required to reform the property, the buyer considered that the final result was infeasible.

Fairmont took over the reins in the bidding process during the second half of last year, by offering €120 million for the property, whose refurbishment it valued at around €60 million. The luxury hotel chain analysed all kinds of options to try to close the transaction successfully, ranging from reselling the rights of the Ritz brand to Marriott – which would have allowed its rival to use the brand throughout the Iberian Peninsular – to addressing the possibility of operating the asset under its second brand, Raffles.

But, according to several market sources close to the negotiations, Fairmont has now also withdrawn from the bidding, leaving the way open for Mandarin. The Asian player may end up closing this complex transaction, mediated by JLL, through an agreement whereby it takes on a management role, but which, in any case, will allow the Asian chain to establish itself in Madrid, a market that it has been analysing with much interest for over a year.

After acquiring numbers 38 and 40 on the exclusive Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona, overlooking Casa Batlló, the Hong Kong firm opened its first property in Spain at the end of 2009. With this investment now well established, the Asian hotel chain has plans to grow in the country, both in Barcelona and, above all, in Madrid.

Luxury hotels arrive in Madrid

The emergence of Four Seasons in the capital, which has reached an agreement with OHL Desarrollos to open the luxury Canalejas complex, has been a catalyst for the Madrilenian hotel market. The large international chains have set their sights on the city and deals are expected to be signed for properties such as the Hotel Villa Magna, the Hotel Miguel Ángel and the old headquarters of Asturiana de Minas; without forgetting the Edificio España, which was acquired by the Chinese Group Dalian Wanda.

These deals will follow others agreed in the last few months, such as the opening of Barceló’s four star hotel in the Torre de Madrid, the conversion of the Hotel Asturias into a boutique hotel and the transformation of the historical Tio Pepe building into a 5 star hotel.

Omega Capital and Belmond acquired the Ritz twelve years ago for €125 million. The strong impact of the economic crisis on the hotel sector in the capital, with declining tourist numbers and low prices, in addition to the cost of the pending renovation of the emblematic hotel, has taken its toll on the brand, for which an impairment loss of €12 million was recorded in 2013, the last full period for which official results are available.

Original story: Cinco Días (by R. Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Balkany To Open Plaza Río 2 Retail Park In Madrid In 2017

20 January 2015 – Cinco Días

Madrid will have a new shopping centre in 2017. The first one to be built in the heart of the capital for more than a decade. The Plaza Río 2 project will be built alongside the Madrid Río park, and will be developed by the company Sociedad General Inmobiliaria de España (LSGIE). The company is led by Robert de Balkany, a Romanian-French multi-millionaire, related by marriage to the European monarchy and a close friend of the former King Juan Carlos. One of the directors of LSGIE, Jaime de Marichalar, is the ex-husband of Elena de Borbón.

The shopping centre, which will be located on Calle Antonio López, less than four kilometres from the Puerta del Sol, will cover an area of 40,000 square metres, with 180 shops over three floors and more than 1,500 parking spaces.

LSGIE has mandated the company SCCE – a subsidiary of the French group SCC, also controlled by the Balkany family – to begin commercial work and look for businesses who want to open stores in Río Plaza 2. For the moment, it has managed to close a deal with its first illustrious tenant: Alcampo announced a few days ago that it will open a store in the new centre occupying an area of 5,000 square metres.

The most recent shopping centre to be opened in the central area of Madrid was the one located in the former Príncipe Pío train station (also next to the Manzanares river) in October 2004. Since then, only smaller centres have opened, such as the one recently opened on Paseo de la Castellana, 200 (which houses 6,000 square metres of retail space).

Over the last 10 years, during which time Spain has gone through the toughest economic crisis since the Civil War, only a handful of retail parks have been developed in the Community of Madrid, although some of those have also borne the stamp of Robert de Balknay. Such is the case of the Plaza Norte 2 complex – in Alcobendas – the largest shopping centre in Spain, covering 50,000 square metres, and most recently, Gran Plaza 2 – in Majadahonda – whose red tape was cut in 2012 by Robert de Balkany himself and the then President of the Community of Madrid, Esperanza Aguirre.

Six shopping centres have been opened in the city of Madrid since 2004 (in Montecarmelo, Canillejas-Plenilunio, Manoteras, Carabanchel-Isla Azul and the Ensanche de Vallecas-La Gavia) according to data from the Spanish Association of Shopping Centres (Aedecc), but none of those are as central as the planned Plaza Río 2.

Project Canalejas

Another project that is also expected to open its doors in 2017 are the Galarías Canalejas, a luxury shopping centre, covering 7,000 square metres, being developed by Inmobiliaria Espacio and the OHL Group, just 250 metres from the Puerta del Sol.

Plaza Río 2 will be located directly opposite the Matadero Madrid, a group of buildings that have been renovated by the Town Hall in recent years to offer cultural activities (exhibitions, theatres, festivals…) and which has become a magnet for artists and creatives alike. In the area surrounding the capital’s new park, Madrid Río, a project known as Operation Calderón will also be taking shape, involving the demolition of Atlético de Madrid’s current football stadium and the construction of several residential towers.

The original project for the development of the site that will house Plaza Río 2 was approved by the Town Hall in June 2013 and involved the creation of a special urban development plan, which included the construction of a 27-story hotel on top of the shopping centre. However, sources from the company LSGIE say that the project that they have developed never included plans for the construction of that hotel.

The shopping centre’s developers value the location of this site due to its easy access from the M-30 ring road (which runs under the Madrid Río river park), as well as from the roads to Toledo (A-42) and Andalucía (A-4). The proximity of several popular neighbourhoods, such as Usera, Arganzuela, Carabanchel and Puente de Vallecas, has also played a role. According to SCCE’s calculations, 175,000 people live within five minutes of Río Plaza 2 and 500,000 people live within a radius of 10 minutes.

According to the designs for the project, the shopping centre will be directly accessible from the Madrid Río park. Just at that point, there is already a bridge that provides access to the facilities of the Matadero Madrid, the cultural centre Casa del Lector and the Palacio de Cristal-Invernadero de Arganzuela.

The Man Who Brought Us The Mall

The CEO of LSGIE and the SCC group, Robert de Balkany, was the person responsible for importing the concept of the shopping centre or mall from the United States to Europe. It was in 1962 when, after a trip around North America, this Romanian-born Frenchman decided to launch his business venture, which has led him to control the largest shopping centre conglomerate in Europe, with more than 120 properties. He developed his first centre – Parly 2 – in the metropolitan area of the French capital. It opened its doors in 1969. “When I returned from my trip to Detroit, I realised that shopping would never been the same again. The world had changed and consumers wanted service, comfort and activities”, explains Balkany in a corporate publication prepared for the 50th anniversary of the SCC group. “Design had been democratised. I had discovered some land in Chesnay, to the west of Paris, very close to Versailles, and I hired an American architect to join the adventure, to build the first shopping centre in Europe”. Then came Velizy2, Rosny2, Evry2, Ulis2, St Genis2…

Next came international expansion, into Spain, where the SCC group today manages 20 shopping centres, including La Vaguada (the first one opened in the country in 1983) and Plaza Norte 2 (the largest in Spain, with an investment of €300 million and where 2,500 people work). Then came Belgium, Italy, Monaco, Abu Dhabi…

Today, the empire built by Balkany manages 135 shopping centres around the world, with a turnover of €50 million and more than 500 employees.

Original story: Cinco Días (by M. M. Mendieta)

Translation: Carmel Drake