CPPIB Wants to Acquire 100% of Puerto Venecia & Parque Principado

19 March 2019 – Expansión

Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) has emerged as the favourite to acquire the stakes owned by Intu Properties in the Spanish shopping centres Puerto Venecia (Zaragoza) and Parque Principado (Asturias) after the British group announced its plans to sell up in the country.

Intu is contemplating the sale of its 50% stakes in the two complexes, in a deal that could be worth €450 million, with the British group valuing its investments in Puerto Venecia and Parque Principado at €268 million and €161 million, respectively.

CPPIB owns the remaining 50% in both shopping centres and has the right of first refusal if Intu does decide to divest. Preliminary discussions are already underway between the two parties.

Meanwhile, in Madrid, Nuveen could be interested in taking control of the Xanadú shopping centre, which it owns jointly with Intu (50% each).

Original story: Expansión (by R. Casado)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Riu Wins Legal Battle over Ownership of Edificio España

15 November 2018 – Preferente

On Thursday, the judge of the Court of First Instance number 51 of Madrid rejected the provisional measure requested by Grupo Baraka against Riu Hotels regarding Edificio España, where the hotel chain is finalising the construction of the largest hotel in the centre of the Spanish capital.

The judge sided with Riu and ruled that Grupo Baraka must pay the legal costs. Baraka sought to record in the Property Registry that an open litigation case existed regarding the ownership of the building, but that claim has been rejected by the court.

Riu considers that the legal ruling clearly shows “the lack of basis imposed by Mr Casanova and his business group, which represents an important step for clarifying that Riu is the sole owner of the property”.

The hotel chain led by the siblings Carmen and Lui Riu expects to open its new hotel in Madrid, the jewel in the crown of the Riu group, next spring.

Original story: Preferente (by R. P.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Intu’s New Strategy in Spain: to Change the Names of its Shopping Centres

16 May 2018 – Eje Prime

Intu is betting on branding to raise the profile of its name in Spain. The company, which has a vast presence in the United Kingdom, where it owns almost twenty shopping centres, is going to replicate its British strategy in Spain, by adding the word Intu to the name of its retail complexes. This week, the company announced that its shopping centre in Zaragoza, which has been called Puerto Venecia to date, is now going to be named Intu Puerto Venecia.

It was in 2014 when Intu reached an agreement with the fund Orion European Real Estate to acquire the Puerto Venecia complex, the largest shopping centre in Spain, for €451 million. The complex contains a retail park spanning 82,600 m2, which was inaugurated in 2008 and a leisure and fashion area measuring 130,000 m2, which opened in October 2012 (…).

Since the purchase by Intu, the British group has carried out a series of changes to the appearance and management of the shopping centre. But it has not been until now that the group has decided to complete the process by adding the word Intu to the name of the complex, whereby following in the footsteps of Intu Asturias.

Now, the next step will be for Intu to apply the same strategy to the Xanadú shopping centre. The British group completed the purchase of that shopping centre, located in Arroyomolinos (Madrid), from Ivanhoé Cambridge for more than €520 million in March last year. That acquisition was the largest operation since Deutsche Bank paid €495 million for Diagonal Mar.

In May of the same year, Intu created a joint venture with TH Real Estate to share the ownership of the Madrilenian shopping centre, transferring 50% of the complex to TH Real Estate for €264.4 million, half of the amount that it had paid for Xanadú.

That shopping centre, constructed in 2003, has a total surface area of 153,695 m2 spread over two storeys and with a total of 220 stores, making it one of the largest retail complexes in Madrid. Its tenants include Inditex, El Corte Inglés, Hipercor, Bricor, Decathlon, Primark and Apple. Xanadú Madrid receives almost 13 million visitors per year and generates sales of around €230 million.

Shopping centres on the rise in Spain

Intu’s commitment to Spain comes at a good time for this retail format in the country. Sales registered at these complexes rose by 3.5% in 2017, to exceed €43.5 billion.

Specifically, revenues in the sector amounted to €43.59 billion in 2017. The market share of shopping centres and retail parks rose to reach 17.9%. Last year, around 1,900 million visits were registered at these complexes.

Meanwhile, investment in the sector soared by 35% in 2017, to €2.7 billion. During the course of last year, 29 transactions were closed involving 36 assets, according to data from the Spanish Association of Shopping Centres and Retail Parks (AECC).

Original story: Eje Prime (by C. Pareja)

Translation: Carmel Drake

B&B Adds 7 Hotels to its Portfolio in Spain

5 February 2018 – Expansión

Growth / The French group has added seven establishments from the H2 Hoteles chain, two under ownership. Its domestic portfolio now comprises 29 hotels and more than 2,700 rooms. 

B&B Hotels –owned by the private equity fund PAI Partners – is strengthening its commitment to Spain. The French group, which arrived in the country in 2015 with the purchase of four hotels and, one year later, purchased the low-cost chain Sidorme, has incorporated seven new establishments from the Catalan H2 Hoteles chain into its portfolio. Two of the properties have been included as owned assets and the other five are rental arrangements; these hotels contain 600 rooms in total.

With this operation, the company specialising in low-cost hotels now operates 29 establishments in the domestic market, comprising more than 2,700 rooms.

Specifically, B&B Hotels has completed the purchase of the management company and the rental contracts – which have a duration of almost 20 years – and has incorporated the H2 Hoteles establishments’ teams in Castellón, Elche, Getafe, Granada and Jerez de la Frontera, owned by AC Hoteles. Moreover, the French group has taken ownership of another two hotels in Oviedo and Rubí (Barcelona).

Following the purchase, H2 Hoteles will have three hotels left in its portfolio –H2 Sant Cugat (Barcelona), H2 Fuenlabrada (Madrid) and H2 Ávila–, as well as apartments in Cáceres.

The Director General of B&B Hotels Spain and Portugal, Jairo González, explained to Expansión that the company plans to sell the ownership assets in the short term. “We will likely incorporate other hotels to be able to have a portfolio of assets that we can sell all together, continuing with their management and following the company’s asset-light model”, he said.

In the framework of this strategy, in May, B&B Hotels reached an agreement with the investment fund Corum to sell eight hotels that it owned in Spain for €30 million. By virtue of that agreement, B&B will continue to operate those establishments under rental agreements for at least 15 years.

The director said that the H2 Hoteles establishments are “in perfect operating condition”, and will be adapted over the next few months to fit with the company’s corporate image.

“The forecast investment for the seven hotels amounts to almost €1.5 million and will be limited to adapting the establishments to our identity”, he added.


In terms of growth plans, the executive expressed his intention to continue to increase his firm’s presence in Spain. “We have more than 20 projects under development in different degrees of maturity in the Iberian Peninsula. In Portugal, for example, we expect to announce more news soon. We forecast that we will have more than 50 establishments by the end of 2019”, said González.

B&B’s roadmap in Spain allowed the firm to triple its revenues last year to reach €30 million. Besides Spain, B&B Hotels Group has a presence in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Morocco, the Czech Republic and Brazil. The company’s plans involve strengthening its world network to reach 600 hotels by 2020, with around 50,000 rooms.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Habitat Considers Moving Its HQ To Madrid Due To Cataluña Crisis

7 November 2017 – El Confidencial

The historical property developer Habitat Inmobiliaria is on its way to becoming the next iconic Catalan company to abandon its region of origin in order to avoid the risks associated with the current crisis being caused by the independence challenge. The company’s shareholders, led by Capstone Equities Management, have been discussing the possible transfer of its corporate headquarters from number 458 Avenida Diagonal in Barcelona to Madrid for several weeks now; they want to reduce any risks to the sales plans being developed by its commercial network (in other parts of the country).

The company, founded in 1953, was owned by the Figueras family until November 2015, when it was taken over by Capstone and a group of funds, including Värde, in an operation that included a multi-million debt discount and in which Goldman Sachs and Bank of America also participated. The change in ownership led, in turn, to an about-turn in its management. Rafael del Valle took over the role of President and a significant part of the operations were moved to Madrid, although the registered address of Promociones Habitat, as the company is known formally, was maintained in Barcelona.

Now, the owners have initiated a sales process and the private equity firms Apollo, Oaktree and Bain are all competing in the final round, according to El Confidencial. In this context, the uncertainty generated in Catalaña could give the final push to move, however, the debate is on-going internally, which sources from the real estate company freely admit.

The problem for Habitat is not so much its exposure to the Catalan market itself, but more a question of its image in the commercial network across the rest of Spain. Of the 11 real estate developments that it currently has up for sale, only one is located in Cataluña, specifically, in Cornellà de Llobregat, called Parc de Can Mercader. The rest are located in Madrid (four developments), the Community of Valencia (four), Andalucía (three), Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Portugal (one each). In other words, the problem facing the company is the opposition that its products may receive given the fact that it is a Catalan company, a phenomenon that is being seen in other sectors.

If this change of registered address comes about, Habitat will be the second large real estate company to abandon Cataluña for political reasons after the Board of Directors of Inmobiliaria Colonial also decided, on 9 October, to move from Avenida Diagonal in Barcelona to Paseo de la Castellana in Madrid.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Víctor Romero)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Iberdrola Sells 55% Of Hotel Hilton Barcelona For €80M

22 June 2017 – Expansión

Iberdrola Inmobiliaria has completed the sale of 55% of Hotel Hilton Diagonal Mar in Barcelona to the real estate division of the insurance company Axa (Axa Investment Managers- Real Assets). The operation has been closed by Axa on behalf of one of its clients, said the vendor in a statement issued on Tuesday.

The energy group’s real estate arm will retain ownership of 45% of the property. Iberdrola Inmobiliaria will receive €80 million for the percentage stake sold.

The Hotel Hilton Diagonal Mar, inaugurated in 2005, is operated by the chain Hilton Worldwide under a long-term lease contract. The four-star establishment contains 430 rooms, of which 20 are suites.

In the operation, the vendor has been advised by the consultancy firm Irea and the law firm Ashurst. Currently, Iberdrola Inmobiliaria owns a portfolio of rental assets spanning a gross leasable area (GLA) of more than 217,000 m2. Its most iconic property is the company’s headquarters in Bilbao.

Moreover, the company is developing around 300 homes, located mainly in the Community of Madrid, although it also has two projects on the coast. In addition, Iberdrola Inmobiliaria is working on a project comprising 42 villas located in the Islas del Mar area (Puerto Peñasco) of Mexico.

Original story: Expansión (by R. Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Bank Of Spain Buys 142,000m2 Plot In Madrid For €40M

29 December 2016 – Inmodiario

The Royal Spanish Mint (‘Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre’ or FNMT) no longer complies with the conditions set out by the European Central Bank (ECB) for the printing of bank notes. As a result, the Bank of Spain has been forced to purchase a plot of land in Madrid’s Vicálvaro neighbourhood from the Ministry of Defence.

Through its company Imbisa, the FNMT has paid almost €40 million to the Institute for Housing, Infrastructure and Defence Equipment (Invied) for a plot of land measuring 142,000 m2, where it is going to build a new factory.

The plot of land acquired for the construction of the new facilities – which will house around 720 employees – is located in the east of Madrid, between the M-40 motorway, the old Vilcálvaro road and Avenida de Daroca (see map above).

The company Imbisa was constituted by the Bank of Spain in June 2015, with share capital of €50 million, in order to comply with the new regulations issued by the ECB, which required bank notes to be manufactured by private companies under tender, or by the national central banks themselves.

The institution led by Luis María Linde (the Bank of Spain) owns an 80% stake in Imbisa and the FNMT will continue to hold the remaining 20% stake until December 2017, when those shares will also pass into the hands of the supervisor. (…).

Once the agreement has been formalised, Imbisa will make a payment amounting to €1.97 million (…) and the balance, in other words, €37.4 million, will be handed over when the public sale and purchase deed is signed.

Despite the purchase of this land, the new factory will not be operational until 2020, by which time it is hoped that the new property will comply with all of the security requirements established by the ECB for the printing of bank notes. (…).

Original story: Inmodiario

Translation: Carmel Drake

Why Are Rental Prices Soaring In Madrid & Barcelona?

17 October 2016 – Expansión

The real estate recovery has led to a boom in rental prices, which has attracted thousands of investors and savers. Buying an apartment to put up for rent represents a low risk, high return investment, which is a very unusual thing at the moment, verging on the edge of “the liquidity trap”. For this reason, rental prices are soaring in the major cities, above all in Barcelona and Madrid, the two lungs of the Spanish residential sector.

Rents in the Catalan capital cost, on average €17.4/sqm/month, up by 18.5% compared to a year ago. In Madrid, rental prices have also risen sharply, by 14.6% with respect to the third quarter of 2015, to €13.8/sqm/month. As such, rents in Madrid are now 20.7% cheaper than those in Barcelona.

However, rents are now more expensive than ever in both cases, including during the years of the real estate boom. In Madrid, the rents previously peaked at €13.4/sqm/month in June 2008 (€0.4/sqm/month lower than today) and in Barcelona, the figure peaked at €14.2/sqm/month, well below the current prices.

All of these findings come from the latest report published by Idealista, based on data at the end of September and an analysis of 63,817 second-hand homes across Spain. In July, August and September, residential rental prices grew by 10.7% YoY and decreased by 3% QoQ, taking the price per square metre per month to €7.6. Rental prices rose in every autonomous region with the exception of the País Vasco.

For Fernando Encinar, Head of Research at Spain’s largest real estate portal “the opening up of the mortgage tap and the high returns from rental properties are turning the sector into a safe haven for small and medium-sized savers”. (…).

Barcelona is the capital city with the highest rental prices in Spain, well above all of the others. And rental prices there are increasing at a rapid rate. In the last three months alone, rents have increased by 7.7% in the Catalan capital, from €14.6/sqm/month to €17.4/sqm/month.

The quarterly increase in rental prices in Madrid amounted to 5.3%, from €13.1/sqm/month to the aforementioned €13.8/sqm/month. A year ago, that figure stood at €12.1/sqm/month.

In the ranking of capitals, Barcelona and Madrid are followed by San Sebastián (€12.8/sqm/month), Palma de Mallorca (€11), Bilbao (€10.7) and Vitoria, Málaga and Las Palmas (all €8.1). At the bottom end of the table are the cities of Lugo (€4.1/sqm/month), Ourense (€4.2) and Cáceres (€4.3).

Julio Gil, Chairman of the Foundation for Real Estate Studies, thinks that there we are seeing a natural shift from ownership to rental, which makes the rental market more expensive. “The homes up for rent in Madrid and Barcelona, which are mature markets, are still the same more or less, but there is now a lot of (new) demand from emancipation, which means that owners are raising prices”, he added. “The growth in supply is much lower than the growth in demand”, said Gil. This explains why the increases are so acute in Barcelona and Madrid.

Rental prices in Barcelona are increasingly more appealing for investors (and increasingly less so for tenants). Nine of the city’s ten districts saw prices rises in the double digits during the third quarter of the year and three of those exceeded 20% YoY. The main rises were seen in Gràcia (+24.6%), Sant Martí (+23.3%), Eixample (+22.3%), San Andreu (+19.5%) and Sants-Montjuic (+19.4%). Moreover, six districts in the Catalan capital have not only recovered the ground lost following the burst of the real estate bubble, they are now at historical highs. For example, rents have never been so expensive in Ciutat Vella (€19 euros/sqm/month), Eixample (€18.8), Sant Martí (€17.5), Sarrià-Sant Gervasi (€17.5), Gràcia (€17.2) and Horta Guinardó (€12.6). (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Juanma Lamet)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Jale Group Owner Acquitted Of Fraud In Incosol Case

27 July 2016 – Expansión

The former owners, the Basque García-Egocheaga family, had accused López Esteras of swindling them during his purchase of the prestigious medical-hotel complex.

The Provincial Court of Vizcaya has acquitted the businessman José Antonio López Esteras, founder of the Jale Group, of crimes involving fraud, continued fraud and concealment of assets, of which he was accused following the sale of Incosol, formerly one of the most prestigious medical-hotel complexes in Europe, located in Marbella.

In addition, his son José Antonio López Esteras Camacho and son-in-law, Alfred Fischbac, have also gone free. They are the former directors of the Cádiz-based holding company, which has now filed for liquidation but which was one of the largest companies in Andalucía in its hey-day, with real estate, construction and hotel businesses.

The case dates back to 2007, when Jale acquired Incosol from the Basque García-Egocheaga family – which also used to own the Hotel Los Monteros – for €50 million through a complex financial and corporate operation. Less than fourteen months later, they filed a lawsuit against the three executives mentioned above, asking for 24 years in prison and compensation amounting to €3.6 million on the basis that they had made payment guarantees and commitments assumed by the Andalucían group somehow disappear.

Those obligations were guaranteed through the constitution of a pledge over 100% of the shares in the company Hotel Monasterio San Miguel, S.A., whose main asset was the hotel of the same name – located in El Puerto de San María – one of the most reputable in Andalucía and the flagship of its hotel division.

Shortly thereafter, Jale filed for voluntary creditor bankruptcy, but before doing so, it reached an agreement with BBVA to transfer ownership of the property to the bank for €24 million, in a sale & leaseback operation.

The plaintiffs consider that, with this manoeuvre, the executives made “the guarantees that secured the fulfilment of its obligations disappear in a fraudulent way”.

Now, however, the Provincial Court of Vizcaya has acquitted them on the basis that “the evidence provided is not sufficient to conclude that the intention behind establishing the pledge over the shares of Hotel Monasterio was to deceive García Egocheaga, or hide from them the fact that the guarantee was going to disappear”.

In addition, the court said that the former owners of Incosol were offered other guarantees in real estate assets worth more than €30 million.

Original story: Expansión (by Simón Onrubia)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sareb Sold 25 Homes Per Day During H1 2016

15 June 2016 – El Mundo

The Chairman of Sareb estimates that the company sold 25 real estate assets per day during the first half of 2016, a pace that he considers “normal”, albeit below the historical average of 27 properties per day for the last 3years, since the so-called bad bank was created.

“At Sareb, we are constantly pedalling hard. We can’t stop”, said Jaime Echegoyen, who also pointed out that the company has debt to pay off. In this regard, he estimated that Sareb has already paid €3,100 million in interest.

He also admitted that the banks’ efforts to clean up their balance sheets by selling off real estate assets is affecting Sareb’s rate of property sales, due to increased competition. Nevertheless, he said that Sareb will benefit from the trump card in that it has on its side, namely, time.

“Sareb is not in any rush (to sell)”, he said at a summer course organised by the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (UIMP) and the Asociación de Periodistas de Información Económica (APIE).

No plans to demolish any properties

The Chairman of Sareb reaffirmed an earlier prediction that the company will stop losing money in 2017 and he confirmed that the bad bank does not expect to undertake any demolitions, despite the fact that some of the assets on Sareb’s balance sheet may take years to sell or “may never be sold”. “Would it be better to knock them down than hold onto them? Perhaps, at first”, he reflected, before adding: “But we are not thinking about demolition, because you need money for that”.

Echegoyen stated that the revenues that the bad bank is generating are mostly being used to pay off debt. In a summary of Sareb’s first three years of life, Echegoyen said that the company has sold 35,200 properties and generated revenues of €12,800 million. In addition, the so-called bad bank has reduced its portfolio by €7,800 million and has repaid €7,700 million (of debt).

On the other hand, Echegoyen stated that the real estate sector “has woken up with clarity” and is enjoying a really “sweet moment”, judging by the recovery in the number of construction permits for new homes and the “stability” that demand for real estate is showing.

Homes as a haven

The Chairman of Sareb emphasised that the improvements in real estate indicators have not only been observed in the large (regional) capital cities; and he pointed out that, at a time of significant volatility on the stock market, properties represent a haven for “Spaniards”.

Finally, the Chairman highlighted the change that is happening in terms of the (property) investment (market), from sale to rental, which is leading to an increase in prices in that segment.

Original story: El Mundo

Translation: Carmel Drake