21 December 2018 – Expansión
El Corte Inglés is preparing to shatter the real estate market. The distribution giant has engaged PwC to sell a mega-portfolio containing 130 properties with a valuation of between €1.5 billion and €2 billion, which would represent the largest divestment undertaken by the company to date.
The operation includes a large variety of assets, all of which are non-strategic, and includes shopping centres (not large department stores), logistics warehouses, supermarkets, offices and land. Once the period for receiving offers has closed and depending on the offers themselves, El Corte Inglés will reserve the right to reduce the size of the portfolio. According to market sources, the firm’s intention is not to find a single buyer but rather to slice up the assets into packages.
Real estate portfolio
The company chaired by Jesús Nuño de la Rosa is whereby accelerating the divestment plan launched to reduce debt with a view to obtaining an investment grade rating from the ratings agencies over the medium term.
El Corte Inglés is one of the main owners of real estate assets in Spain, with a portfolio worth more than €17 billion, larger even than those owned by the large Spanish Socimis, Merlin and Colonial, whose asset portfolios were worth €12.2 billion and €11.2 billion, respectively, as at June, and those of the large real estate companies such as Amancio Ortega’s Pontegadea, whose assets were worth €8.8 billion at the end of 2017.
With this large exposure to property, El Corte Inglés is taking advantage of the investor appetite in the market for real estate assets to clean up its balance sheet. Last year, real estate investment reached a new record with transactions worth €18.7 billion, including corporate operations, which represented an increase of 46%. Excluding purchases by companies, the investment figure also reached a historical maximum of €10.8 billion, according to data from CBRE.
In the framework of this plan, this summer, the company sold its centres in Parquesur and La Vaguada, both in Madrid to Unibail Rodamco, the largest operator of shopping centres in Europe. Those assets have a surface area of 20,000 m2 each and were sold for €160 million.
Original story: Expansión (by R. Arroyo & V. Osorio)
Translation: Carmel Drake