Savills & Aguirre Newman Complete Their Merger

3 January 2018 – Eje Prime

Without any fuss whatsoever, Savills and Aguirre Newman ended the year by completing their merger. On the last working day of the year, the British company announced to the London Stock Exchange that it had finally signed the agreement to buy the Spanish real estate consultancy. The company, which announced its intention to acquire the Madrid-headquartered business through the same channel on 28 July 2017, will pay €67 million by way of consideration.

According to the document that proves the purchase of Aguirre Newman, the British consultancy firm paid €42 million at the time of the signing and will pay the remaining balance in instalments of €5 million over the next five years, to reach the €25 million agreed between the two parties.

In theory, Savills had planned to complete the purchase before 30 November, however, administrative setbacks delayed the signing. Nevertheless, the company said that all of the paperwork was completed before the end of 2017 (…).

The need of both groups to sign their merger before the end of the year was also an administrative priority, given that they wanted to start the new year afresh to operate under the brand, Savills Aguirre Newman, from the beginning of 2018. Moreover, this change will result in a significant number of changes to its operations in Spain. The first will see it move to a new headquarters in the financial heart of Madrid.

The Spanish subsidiary of Savills has set the wheels in motion to move its offices to one of the capital’s main skyscrapers. After lots of negotiations, the new consultancy firm will move into the Castellana 81 building, better known as the Torre BBVA. The company will lease 8,000 m2 of space after reserving six floors in the building from the Socimi GMP, which owns the asset.

Built in 1981, Torre BBVA is one of the symbols of the Azca financial district in the Spanish capital. GMP renovated the asset after buying it and, coincidently, Aguirre Newman, along with CBRE, were appointed to look for new tenants for the building. The consultancy firm plans to move into its new offices as soon as the integration of the two companies has been formalised.

In terms of the business of the two consultancy firms in Barcelona, sources in the Catalan capital indicate that it is very likely (although not definite) that the Savills staff located in the Catalan capital will move to the offices that Aguirre Newman has on La Diagonal in Barcelona, given their location and capacity.

Another matter still up in the air is the duplication of the entire organisational structure of both companies. Savills’ intention is to maintain the entire workforce, although it is more than certain that many of the directors will leave the company voluntarily, according to sources consulted by Eje Prime.

The Presidents of Aguirre Newman, Santiago Aguirre and Stephen Newman, and the President of Savills España, Rafael Merry del Val, will be appointed to the Board of Directors of the combined company, in the following roles: Santiago Aguirre, Chairman of the Board; Stephen Newman and Rafael Merry del Val, Executive Co-Vice-presidents.

The senior management team of Aguirre Newman and Savills España will retain and include José Navarro, current CEO of Savills España; Javier Echeverría, CEO of Aguirre Newman; Jaime Pascual-Sanchiz, Executive Director General of Aguirre Newman, and Ángel Serrano, Director General of the Business at Aguirre Newman. The office in Barcelona is going to be led by Anna Gener and Arturo Díaz, as the CEO of Savills Aguirre Newman and President of the group in Barcelona, respectively. The real headache for Savills Aguirre Newman will come with the next level of management, although those roles will not be assigned for several weeks yet (…).

Original story: Eje Prime (by Custodio Pareja)

Translation: Carmel Drake

El Corte Inglés Should Receive Approval for Madrid Mega-Centre in March

23 December 2017 – Expansión

Three years have passed since El Corte Inglés acquired the most sought-after plot of land in Madrid, a space measuring 13,000 m2, located on Paseo de la Castellana. The group paid €136 million to be awarded the land, previously owned by Adif, in a deal that involved an initial payment of €68 million, followed by the disbursement of the remaining amount three years later. And that is also how long it has taken for El Corte Inglés to process the paperwork to allow it to expand the jewel in its crown, its Castellana shopping centre. According to sources familiar with the process, in January, the Town Hall of Madrid will submit its approval of the definitive plan to the central Spanish Government (…). According to the same sources, if all goes according to plan, El Corte Inglés will receive the green light to expand its Castellana megacentre in March, or, in any case, before the summer.

A complex project

The wait of more than three years to unblock the project has been due to a mix of complexity and bad luck. The urban planning proposal for the land established a total buildable surface area of 35,192 m2, of which 10,176 m2 corresponded to three above-ground storeys for tertiary use and 25,000 m2 to four underground basement floors for parking.

This proposal was very complex given the location of the land, located as it is, right on top of the Nuevos Ministerios Metro and Renfe stations (…).

Once it has been given the green light, it is likely that El Corte Inglés, which declined to comment, will not take long to start the building work to expand its Castellana centre. Its flagship store in the Spanish capital spans a surface area of more than 170,000 m2, with 70,000 m2 of retail space spread over seven floors and 1,600 underground parking spaces. More than 3,000 people work there.

According to sources in the sector, El Corte Inglés will also take the opportunity (of the construction of the new building) to reorganise the retail space that it owns in Nuevos Ministerios, and which includes its stores located between number 83 and 85 Paseo de la Castellana, which it sold to the real estate firm Monthisa in September 2016 through a sale and leaseback agreement (…).

Premium fashion and gastronomy

The marketing and design of the new retail space that El Corte Inglés is preparing to build on the land acquired from Adif is being carried out with the utmost secrecy by the retailer, which has refused to hire real estate agents like normally happens in these types of projects (…).

The most likely course of action is that it will create a premium space to house luxury brands and the highest-level gastronomy – although that is not the only possibility that the retail chain is currently contemplating -. That would strengthen one of the main objectives of its star centre: to attract tourist shoppers in the capital (…).

Original story: Expansión (by V. Osorio and R. Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Riu Rules Out Buying 25% Of Edificio España

3 April 2017 – ABC

Edificio España’s foundations are starting to wobble again. The project backed by the Murcian group Baraka, which announced its plan to buy the skyscraper in July last year, has been hit by two serious setbacks in the last few days.

The first, a problem with Wanda’s documentation, put the brakes on the completion of the sale of the building to the company chaired by Trinitario Casanova. Initially, the two parties had agreed to meet at a notary’s office in Madrid to close the operation, after months of comings and goings, but the Chinese group went to the meeting without the deeds or the annual accounts for the financial year 2016, and so the SPA could not be signed.

According to Baraka, that setback will lead to a delay of three months – at least – in the start of the construction work (which is how long it will take the Chinese group to prepare all the necessary paperwork). Nevertheless, the Murcian company has now suffered an even more important setback. According to sources in the financial and real estate sectors, the hotel chain Riu has decided against investing in the project. The Mallorca-based company was going to acquire a 25% stake in the skyscraper, for which Baraka has agreed to pay Wanda €272 million in total.

700-room hotel

In return, Riu was going to manage the five-star hotel, which would occupy the vast majority of the property. The building was going to have 700 rooms, two swimming pools (one outdoor pool on the roof and another indoor pool on the 16th floor), independent conference rooms and themed restaurants. The rest of the building – four floors – was going to be allocated to retail space and according to Casanova, firms such as El Corte Inglés, the French companies Galerías Lafayette and Printemps, amongst other international brands, had already expressed interest in occupying the space.

However, the whole project is now up in the air following the Riu chain’s decision to not contribute the €68 million that it had committed. The decision will force Baraka to look for a new partner if it is to go ahead with its plans. (…).

Sources in the real estate sector do not rule out the possibility that the “failure to sign” last week was a manoeuvre by the Chinese group to try to thwart Baraka’s purchase of Edificio España and win more time to continuing benefitting from the appreciation in value of the skyscraper. (…).

Meanwhile, the questions surrounding the operation and the project itself are the main reasons that led Riu to decide against acquiring 25% of the complex. However, the Mallorca-based company, which does not have any financing problems, has not ruled out continuing as the tenant of the building and paying a rent in exchange for managing the hotel. (…).

Original story: ABC (by Miguel Oliver and Marta R. Domingo)

Translation: Carmel Drake