Merlin Properties Extends €129-Million Loan to San José

6 November 2019 – Merlin Properties has extended a €129.10 million loan to the San José construction group, part of a recent transaction which saw the Spanish socimi acquire a 14.4% stake in Operation Chamartín. The socimi agreed to pay €168 million as well as grant the loan to San José.

The loan is structured into two tranches, the first, worth 86.39 million euros, has a 20-year maturity and an interest rate of 2%.

The second, €42.72-million tranche, also pays 2%. Merlin structured the loan as a cash deposit to guarantee working capital financing that San José has until October 31. The second tranche will mature on December 2.

Original Story: Expansión

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

Merlin Properties Acquires 14.4% of Operation Chamartín from San José for €168 Million

1 November 2019 Merlin Properties has acquired a 14.46% stake in the Operation Chamartín urban development from the San José construction group for 168.89 million euros.

The socimi has thus become the second major investor in the mega-project, through its acquisition of part of San José’s 24% stake in the development. BBVA, in turn, owns the remaining 74%.

The operation includes a loan to San José. Currently, Merlin has a portfolio of land, residential properties, shopping centres and logistics platforms valued at €12.375 billion. Merlin, the largest socimi in Spain, is coming into the development at a time when construction is finally set to take off, after twenty years of negotiations.

Original Story: La Vanguardia – Rocío Ruiz

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

Trinitario Casanova Files €713-Million Lawsuit Against BBBVA

16 October 2019 Trinitario Casanova announced that he had filed a €713-million lawsuit against BBVA, demanding compensation for damages stemming from Operation Chamartín.

The owner of the Baraka Group contends that he is filing the lawsuit to defend the right of reversion that he acquired from the members of the Non-Abuse association, an NGO which was created to defend the rights of the original owners of the land where the Chamartín station is now located.

In his lawsuit, Casanova argues that BBVA should pay him a total of 713 million euros should it not wish to accept the executive’s right of reversion and return the 1.3 million square meters of land linked to the Operation Chamartín.

Original Story: Eje Prime

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

Trinitario Casanova’s Baraka Group to Build Hotel in Valdebebas

14 October 2019 The executive Trinitario Casanova is planning on building a new hotel in Madrid Norte, the capital’s new residential area, between Valdebebas and Operation Chamartín. Casanova’s Baraka Group confirmed that it would develop the new hotel on a 38,000-m2 plot of land its owns near to the Real Madrid sports complex and the access to Madrid-Barajas airport. The project reportedly also includes plans for rental offices on the same site.

The area where the hotel will be located is in the ‘Valdebebas Fintech District’ in the new Madrid Nuevo Norte in the north of Madrid, where 11,400 new homes are already under development.

Original Story: La Información – Ana Sánchez Juárez

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

Developers Eye More Than €30 Billion in New Business in Madrid

21 August 2019

Developers are eyeing huge new possible investments they expect to build approximately 130,000 new homes over the next 25 years. That is in addition to major new investments in offices, retail spaces and industrial buildings. The sale of homes and other properties is expected to exceed €30 billion.

Developers are planning two new centres of investment in the north and southeast of the capital. The developments include Operation Chamartín (since renamed Madrid Nuevo Norte) and five new neighbourhoods to the southeast: Los Berrocales, Valdecarros, Los Cerros, Los Ahijones and El Cañaveral.

Operation Chamartín was finally approved last month by the municipal assembly, after a 26-year hiatus. A report by the city council forecasts that total sales of homes, offices and commercial areas will reach €13.198 billion, €10.2 billion of which will come from offices and retail areas. 10,500 homes will also be built in the area surrounding the Chamartín train station, 24% of which will have subsidies.

A development with a total of 118,737 homes is also planned for the city’s southeast. Sales for this area are expected to reach more than €20 billion over 25 years with profit margins reaching 20%. El Cañaveral, where construction has already begun, will see total investments of €3 billion. Next will be Los Berrocales and then Los Ahijones by 2021. Lastly, work will begin on Los Cerros and Valdecarros, with plans for more than 50,000 homes, the first of which will be ready in a decade. The owners of these developments, excluding El Cañaveral, calculate investments exceeding €13 billion, generating 965,000 direct and indirect jobs over the next few years.

Original Story: Cinco Días – Alfonso Simón Ruiz

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

BBVA to Sell Its 75% Participation in the Madrid Nuevo Norte Project

30 July 2019 – Richard D. K. Turner

The Madrid City Council has unanimously approved the Madrid Nuevo Norte project, also known as Operation Chamartín, after a twenty-five-year wait. The project must now gain final approval from the Community of Madrid government and weather lawsuits from community and environmental groups.

District Castellana Norte (DCN), which is 75% owned by BBVA together with Grupo San José (25%), is the developer in charge of the project. Though BBVA has publicly affirmed its commitment to see the project through, increased oversight by the ECB and a change in the bank’s leadership have fuelled speculation that BBVA will sell its participation of a single major investor.

Despite some changes to the urban development plan, Operation Chamartín will lead to the construction of 10,500 homes (20% with some kind of protection), a new financial district and the refurbishment of the Chamartín train station. In total, investors will plough roughly €6 billion into the project over about two decades. Construction is expected to commence in 2021.

Original Story: El Confidencial – Ruth Ugalde

Madrid City Council Gives Preliminary Approval to Operation Chamartín

29 July 2019 – Richard D. K. Turner

The Madrid City Hall gave conditional approval to the Madrid Nuevo Norte project, also known as Operation Chamartín, yesterday 25 years after it was first proposed.

The modifications to the General Urban Development Plan will be sent for final approval to the government of the Community of Madrid.

The mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida stated that they would maintain the project originally agreed to by the Ministry of Development, the private developer leading the project, Distrito Castellana Norte (DCN) and the Madrid City Council. The mayor added that construction is expected to begin in 2020 or 2021 and generate 200,000 direct jobs.

Community organisations and environmental groups such as the Regional Federation of Neighbourhood Associations of Madrid (FRAVM), Ecologists in Action and the North Zone Platform, stated that they would contest the development in court.

Original Story: El Diário

Operation Chamartín Expected to Receive Go Ahead

15 July 2019 – Richard D. K. Turner

The mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, expects that the City Council will approve Madrid Nuevo Norte, also known as Operation Chamartín, in September. Operation Chamartín is a development north of the city of Madrid, near the Chamartín train station, that licensing issues have kept in limbo since 1993.

BBVA owns 75% of DCN, the development’s main protagonist, while the rest belongs to Grupo San José. The firm controls the rights to a large part of the land, which, in reality, is still owned by Adif, the state-owned railway company. Thus, DCN will pay Adif more than €1.2 billion euros over 20 years after the development receives approval.

The Madrid Nuevo Norte involves the construction of 10,500 homes and a new financial zone, in a potential investment of more than €13 billion.

Original Story: Idealista

Operación Chamartín: DCN To Build Tallest Tower In EU

14 April 2016 – Expansión

The property developer behind “Operation Chamartín” plans to construct six towers – five will be around the same height as the four already in place and a sixth will measure more than 300m.

Distrito Castellana Norte (DCN) owned by BBVA and the construction group San José, has unveiled some of the plans for Operation Chamartín. The Chairman of the property developer, Antonio Béjar, explained yesterday that the project will include the construction of what will be the tallest skyscraper in Europe, measuring more than 300m tall and spanning 70 floors.

In total, this project will involve the construction of six towers, five of which will be around the same height as the four towers on the Castellana and a sixth, which will be the tallest in the European Union. DCN also said that 80% of the space will be allocated for use as public spaces and green areas and 20% will be used for the construction of homes, businesses and offices.

“The project is alive and kicking. Now we just need to submit it to the Town Hall for final approval”, said Béjar during the Sustainable Urban Development Forum organised by the newspaper El País. According to DCN, the urban plan has been approved by all of the relevant authorities and technicians through 48 favourable sectoral reports. (…).

Ministry of Development

Béjar reiterated that the completion of the process and the approval of the plan no longer depends on the Ministry of Development, but rather on the Town Hall alone.

In terms of his relationship with Manuela Carmena and her team, Béjar made it clear that DCN has not participated in the recent debates organised by the Town Hall to analyse the feasibility of the project…(…).

“At the moment…our intention is not to take this process to court, not at all. We want to reach agreement and consensus with all levels of government. However, clearly, that does not mean that if the project is harmed or damaged by government decisions that we consider do not comply with the law, that we will stop defending our interests….”.

The Chairman of DCN said that his intention was to unveil the details of the plan so as to “clear up unknowns”. In this sense, he denied that the buildability level would be excessive and pointed out that it is “significantly” lower than the levels in well-established neighbourhoods, such as Chamberí (3x higher), and Paseo de la Castellana (2x higher). He also added that infrastructure represents an investment of more than €1,400 million, which will be funded in full by the owners and will represent “zero cost for the residents of Madrid”. “By adopting a public-private partnership model, the infrastructure will be developed by the owners at the request of the various government bodies and for the benefit of Madrid’s citizens. (….), said Béjar.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Financial Institutions See 2015 As “Year Zero” Of The Recovery

9 February 2015 – El Mundo

Many banks (49%) believe that financing will return to normal between 2016 and 2018

Although many large banks are already taking positions in the real estate sector to benefit from its recovery, with transactions such as Operation Chamartín led by BBVA, or Santander’s increase of its stake in Metrovacesa, the financial sector does not believe that 2015 will be the year that marks the full recovery of the real estate sector. That is the conclusion of a study conducted by the consultancy KPMG, based on the views of more than 200 sector experts in the Spanish market.

According to the document, 2015 is going to be “year zero” in terms of the start of recovery of the Spanish real estate sector in Spain – 80% of Spanish banks and Sareb do not expect credit for housing and other real estate activities to flow normally this year, despite the fact that according to data published by the Bank of Spain, consumer loans and mortgages recorded a slight increase towards the end of 2014, for the first time since 2007.

Many financial institutions (49%) expect that financing will return to normal between 2016 and 2018, whilst 31% do not expect that it will happen for more than two years.

By that time, i.e.. from 2018 onwards, 79% of the banks surveyed (plus Sareb, the bad bank) expect that the stock of real estate assets, which is still being accumulated in Spain and which continues to weigh down on the results of the financial sector, will be absorbed.

Nevertheless and despite the high levels of unemployment, demand could increase significantly from 2016, according to 51% of the financial institutions that have participated in the study.

The sector is divided in its assessment of how this demand will behave and there is no consensus as to whether there has been a change in the mindsets of young people following this economic crisis. 50% of the banks surveyed (plus Sareb) believe that young people (aged less than 35 years) in Spain will continue to prefer to buy a home rather than rent one and most of the rest (44%) think that there will be a change in the home buying trend and that young Spaniards will chose to rent rather than buy as we learn from the past.

Nevertheless, there is complete consensus amongst respondents as to the involvement of financial institutions in supporting the recovery of the real estate market and the importance of their role as lenders, given that the other methods that are currently being used to close transactions – such as direct lending or investment by specialist funds – are necessary but not sufficient for the sector to fully recover.

There is also strong consensus (85%) that the old financing model of high leverage, which generated the property boom in Spain will not be repeated.

Construction reduces its weight over total GDP

According to estimates by the National Construction Confederation (Confederación Nacional de la Construcción or CNC), the construction sector accounted for around 23% of Spain’s GDP in 2007; by 2013, that weight had decreased by more than half (to 10%). The study, conducted by KPMG’s Real Estate team, concludes that 82% of the players involved in this business (banks, Sareb, companies, investors and the public sector) believe that construction’s contribution to national wealth will exceed 10% within five years, however it will have to reach 15% for it to really constitute a recovery. The majority of the participants in the survey agree that employment will be generated in the sector over the next five years. More than half think that the construction sector will provide work for more than 7% of the active population and more than a third believe that this figure will amount to 10%. But everyone agrees that the figure will not reach the level (14%) seen before the crisis.

Original story: El Mundo (by María Vega)

Translation: Carmel Drake