Insur Teams Up with Wealthy Andalucían Families to Grow its Property Business in Madrid

18 April 2019 – El Confidencial

Wealthy Andalucían families are teaming up with the real estate group Insur to work on projects in the housing, office and commercial sectors. That is according to various sources in the property sector speaking to El Confidencial. The company itself has declined to comment.

Having previously joined forces with the Moya Yoldi (Persán) and Cosentino families, the company is now looking to expand beyond Andalucía in partnership with other family offices. Possible candidates include the Domínguez de la Maza family, owner of Mayoral and the Guillén family (owner of Acesur-Coosur), with which it has already invested in Sevilla.

Insur is keen to diversify its geographical market (75% of its assets are currently located in Andalucía) and Madrid is an obvious option, thanks to the liquidity of the market. The firm is already building 250 homes there in the towns of Valdemoro, Boadilla and Villaviciosa.

The aim of the company chaired by Ricardo Pumar is to generate stable annual revenues of €20 million from rental income, up from the €12 million recorded last year.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Carlos Pizá)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Apollo Negotiates the Sale of Altamira to Dobank (Fortress) for €500M

21 December 2018 – El Confidencial

The sale of Altamira, the historical real estate arm of Banco Santander, is facing its most decisive moment. The Italian group Dobank has positioned itself as the primary candidate in recent days to purchase the platform owned by Apollo and Santander, amongst others, by submitting an offer for between €500 million and €550 million, according to financial sources consulted by El Confidencial.

The offer is somewhat lower than Apollo and its other two partners in Altamira’s share capital, the Canadian pension fund CPPIB and the Abu Dhabi fund ADIA, had expected. Between the three of them, they control an 85% stake, whilst the remaining 15% is in the hands of Santander.

The shareholders engaged Goldman Sachs to coordinate the sale with the aim of obtaining proceeds of €600 million. Nevertheless, the lack of competition has decreased the price in recent weeks. The deal was also influenced by the withdrawal of Intrum, which decided not to buy Altamira after winning the bid to acquire Solvia, according to the same sources.

That price difference means that Apollo and Goldmans are taking their time over the completion of the operation. Apollo, CPPIB and ADIA paid €664 million for the 85% stake in the real estate firm back in the day. Despite that, they do not have to reach that figure to recover their investments, given that they have received various dividends in recent years that compensate their profitability figures.

Dobank is the Italian platform owned by Fortress, the US fund that used to operate in Spain in the recovery of financial assets, through Paratus, Geslico and Lico Corporación.

The platform has been interested in entering the Spanish market for a while and regards Altamira as the ideal partner, given that it is the property manager that has been the most committed to internationalisation. It already operates in Portugal, Cyprus and Greece and the next major market into which it wants to expand is Italy.

Santander has not yet decided what it will do with its 15% stake in Altamira, whether to sell it together with the stakes of the other shareholders or to hold onto it to retain some control over the future of the platform, which still manages some of its assets.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake

El Corte Inglés Plans to Open 1,000 Gas Station Stores in Conjunction with Repsol

15 October 2018 – Real Estate Press

There are almost 11,500 gas stations in Spain, of which more than 8,500 have shops. El Corte Inglés was one of the first groups to operate in conjunction with oil companies and that group is now planning to open 1,000 new gas station stores together with Repsol.

Gas station stores typically have a wide range of opening hours, span an extensive network and are easy to stop at to make quick purchases. It was only a matter of time before distribution groups decided to team up with oil companies to manage their service station stores. Now the time has come for those formats to flourish.

The formula allows supermarket chains to grow rapidly without having to recruit staff or undertake significant investments. Meanwhile, the petrol companies benefit from offering more attractive service stations, with a more extensive range of products and a lower cost base by entrusting the management of their stores to specialists with a volume of purchases that generates significant savings.

Sales at gas station stores amounted to €580 million in 2017, although the potential of this format is much greater.

Forecast growth

El Corte Inglés was one of the first groups to operate agreements with petrol companies. Initially, it constituted the company Gespevesa together with Repsol in 1998, which they control (50%) and which owns 39 service stations. Last year, that entity recorded revenues of €39.2 million, down by 26% and earned profits of €3.8 million, up by 28%. Next, it joined forces with Cepsa to develop a refuelling discount strategy. And, now, it has committed to a major agreement with Repsol to create “the largest network of convenience stores in Spain” under the brand Supercor Stop & Go.

Carrefour has also changed its petrol partner over the years: it started working on this type of alliance with BP, but in 2013, it opted to join Cepsa to grow a new format, Carrefour Express Cepsa, which currently comprises 333 stores. One fact serves to explain the importance of this agreement for the French group, namely, that it is the format with the most stores in around twenty Spanish provinces, including Asturias, Murcia, the Balearic Islands, Castellón, Lleida, Toledo, Valladolid and Zaragoza, amongst others.

Día is the other group that has heavily backed the format, with the launch of a pilot project together with BP in four of its gas stations in Madrid under the Shop brand. Previously, in 2015, Dia signed an agreement in collaboration with Disa (Shell) to supply the counters in five of its stores. BP has also worked with other partners. Between 2013 and 2016, Alcampo supplied products, including its own brand range, to stores in its gas stations. Moreover, BP has operated some regional alliances for years with other smaller supermarket chains to generate benefits through their loyalty cards (…).

Finally, Galp, the fifth largest petrol company in Spain, has not been averse to these agreements either; it has worked with GM Food, the former Miquel Group. Their partnership began in 2013, with 12 pilot stores operating under the Sar brand; it continued the alliance once that project had finished, with the Catalan group as the supplier of its stores; and now, the two firms have started another trial in eight locations under the format Suma Exprés.

Original story: Real Estate Press

Translation: Carmel Drake

Urbania Developer: Panamanian Capital Promotes 20 Developments in Valencia

31 July 2018 – Eje Prime

Numerous Spanish real estate entrepreneurs crossed the pond when the Spanish property sector crashed at the end of the 2000s. One of the property developers who got on a plane when the walls of the real estate sector were starting to crack in Spain was Juan Antonio Claveria. That Valencian businessman is now back on his home turf with Urbania Developer, a Panamanian real estate company that is planning to “have up to twenty projects under development over the next three years in the Community of Valencia”, explained Claveria to Eje Prime.

The Spanish businessman is the CEO of Urbania Developer, a company listed on the Panamanian stock market, which he created last year together with his partners, the local investors Yasser Williams and Omar Fricentese. “The company’s share capital is 100% private”, highlighted Claveria.

The three have recently teamed up with the Valencian builder José Vicente Roig, who has included the assets of the former property developer Patrimonios del Levante in the group. With those, the real estate company has launched its growth plan in the Community of Valencia, where the firm already has eight projects underway or on the verge of being executed.

“We are interested in towns with between 200,000 and 300,000 inhabitants”, explains Claveria, who is also attracted to “those suburbs that have between 40,000 and 80,000 inhabitants, which are well connected by metro”. Public transport links and the proximity to the capital of Valencia are the key aspects of the investment policy that Urbania Developer is going to carry out. It is turning its back on the overheating of prices that is being recorded in the centre of the city.

Torrent, Paterna, Mislata, Benimamet and Paiporta are the towns on the outskirts of Valencia where Urbania Developer has residential projects underway at the moment. Nevertheless, “we are now finalising the purchase of new plots of land”, said Claveria, who indicated that his company could close around half a dozen operations soon.

Moreover, the property developer has already expanded its business to the south of Valencia with the purchase of a “small plot” in Alicante. Size is important for the company, which projects developments comprising “between eight and thirty homes”. “In Castellón, we are also looking at plots”, said the businessman, who wants to focus solely on the Community of Valencia in this first phase of his arrival in Spain (…).

Currently, the property developer has more than 5,000 homes built or under construction in Panama, the epicentre of the company’s business,  as well as in Paraguay and Nicaragua. In the Panamanian market alone (“the Switzerland of Latin America”, according to Claveria), the property developer manages 2.2 million m2 of residential land spread over 18 projects.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Meliá to Open 1 New Hotel Every 15 Days During 2018 and 2019

7 June 2018 – Expansión

Meliá is accelerating its growth trajectory and is seeking to continue exporting its brands overseas. The Mallorcan hotel chain is planning to open 50 new hotels around the globe over the next two years. “This means that, on average, and with the exception of force majeure or unexpected events, we will be opening a hotel somewhere in the world almost every two weeks”, said Gabriel Escarrer Jaume, Vice President and CEO of the group at the General Shareholders’ Meeting yesterday.

The company ended last year with 375 hotels and 96,239 rooms in 43 countries. Of the total, 68% of the group’s hotels are located in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), 33% in America and 9% in Asia-Pacific.

In this sense, the President of Meliá, Gabriel Escarrer Juliá, highlighted that expansion will continue to be a fundamental “motor” for growth. Escarrer Juliá explained that of the new openings planned until 2019, 20% will be located in EMEA countries, another 20% in the Mediterranean, 27% in America and another 33% in Asia-Pacific.

“Our bet for Asia-Pacific is clear if we consider that since 2013, we have more than quadrupled the number of hotels there to 45, including those that are operational and being opened”, he said.

Escarrer highlighted the operating performance of the company, which last year generated a profit, excluding capital gains, of €128.7 million, up by 27.8%, which allowed it to distribute a dividend of €0.1682 per share, in other words, €38.6 million.

Currently, 31% of the group’s EBTIDA, around €90 million, stems from the management of hotels. “This model allows us to generate high returns with minimal capital requirements since we invest in the acquisition of high-value management contracts and not in real estate assets”.

The CEO of Meliá underlined the effort undertaken in terms of digitalisation and quantified the investment in this area at €100 million over the last three years. That has resulted in the greater role of the corporate website in the business. The director explained that revenues proceeding from melia.com amounted to €520 million in 2017, up by 21%.

The director said that the group’s strategy involves continuing to rotate assets and strengthen their alliances with their partners to grow and improve the hotel portfolio. In 2017, Meliá spent €244 million maintaining and renovating its hotel portfolio.

“We have initiated a new valuation of our portfolio of assets, the global results of which we will have during the third quarter. I trust that the outcome of that valuation exercise will be positive.

Escarrer also referred to the challenges facing the company, including the push from new competitors such as Airbnb and the political instability.

Risk factors

“We feel very comfortable and confident of being able to fulfil the objectives of our strategic plan, although we monitor the main risk factors in our industry very closely, such as the evolution of the so-called collaborative economies and of processes that generate uncertainty, such as Brexit and the complex political situations in countries such as Italy and Spain”.

In any case, he reiterated the forecasts for 2018, with an improvement in RevPAR (average revenue per available room) (…) and an increase in margins of between 100 and 150 basis points.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Cerquia’s Directors Launch New Hotel Development Company: Xpandia

14 February 2018 – Eje Prime

The managers of Cerquia have set their sights on achieving five stars. Carlos Cercadillo, Javier Pérez Picallo and Jesús Salinero, all senior members of the Spanish company, have teamed up with a group of investors to leap into the hotel sector. The executives have launched Xpandia Projects, a company specialising in hotel development with a focus on Spain and Portugal, according to Pérez Picallo, CEO of Cerquia, speaking to Eje Prime.

Picallo will be in charge of the new project, although he will also continue in his position at Cerquia, as will Cercadillo, who is the President of the company and Salinero, who leads the expansion department.

“The hotels will be urban properties and they will be handed over turnkey-style to the operators”, explains the CEO of the company (…). The objective of the property developer is to hand over 800 rooms over the next three years. For the time being, the company is going to work on three projects, two in Lisbon and one in Valencia. The latter, located on Calle Guillem de Gastro, is on the verge of being granted its licence, with the aim of being completed and ready for delivery in 2020. In the case of the Portuguese assets, the delivery will take place in 2018 and 2019, respectively. In total, these three hotels will place 386 rooms on the market. Some of the major operators for which the firm is going to work include groups such as Accor, Iberostar, Hotusa, Vincci and B&B.

The development of the assets will be undertaken through both the renovation of buildings, as well as the construction of new build properties. The first project in Valencia and one of the projects in Lisbon involve the complete renovation of two properties. In addition, during this first phase, the company has pre-agreements to develop hotels in Madrid, Valencia, Alicante, Sevilla, Málaga, Bilbao and Donostia.

Xpandia is not planning to accumulate assets itself. “We will not hold onto the assets, instead we will sell them to investors who will operate them after we complete the building work”, explains Picallo, adding that “in some cases, we will hand over the hotels completely decorated and furnished”. The only hotel that the new company will own is a property in Lisbon, currently owned by Cerquia, which will be transferred from one portfolio to another. Despite the obvious synergies between the group and the property developer, “this is a project that will operate outside of Cerquia”, said its CEO.

The property developer will work on all stages of the projects from the location and selection of the properties to the drafting of the technical plans and the organisation of the construction work. Location wise, the properties will always “be in cities, primarily in central areas, to respond to the tourist interest that operators demand”, says Picallo. The property developer will study 100 potential projects per year.

The company is not going to work in Barcelona for the time being. Although the Catalan capital is the most touristic city in Spain, the property developer considers that “there is too much uncertainty around obtaining hotel licences in the city” (…).

During this first phase, the hotel operators that Xpandia is working with are expected to invest around €30 million. The hotels that the company is going to develop will be 3- and 4-star properties.

The group driving the project, Cerquia, is a company dedicated to the management and operation of its own real estate assets. The company, created in 2006, has offices, hotels and homes for rent in a portfolio that spans a surface area of approximately 20,000 m2 in the office sector alone across the Iberian Peninsula.

The firm’s clients include companies such as Banco Santander, Uria Menéndez, Garrigues, Catalana Occidente, Hoteles Vincci,  Bausch & Lomb, Intermoney, Worx, Lycamobile and Shine Ibérica, amongst others. For 2018, the group’s roadmap is to maintain its activity and continue with the progress of its three residential developments.

Original story: Eje Prime (by Jabier Izquierdo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Morenés & Pepa Launch a New RE Fund with Warren Buffet

19 January 2018 – El Confidencial

Juan Pepa (pictured above left), the man who brought Lone Star to Spain, and Felipe Morenés, the son of Ana Botín and executive of the Texan fund for five years, are working together again. The two directors have just launched Stoneshield Capital, a firm that plans to invest €300 million in the Spanish real estate sector.

According to sources in the know, the two partners already have €200 million of capital, money that proceeds from: their own assets, some of Lone Star’s institutional investors and the famous financier Warren Buffet, who has decided to back them in this venture, although the parties involved did not want to confirm that information.

Unlike in the case of Lone Star, which has an opportunistic profile, Morenés and Pepa now want to focus on more conservative operations, which will limit the level of indebtedness of the new fund to around 50%, meaning that its investor capacity will reach the aforementioned €300 million.

The plans of these two partners are already very well advanced, with several operations on the table under analysis, and with the aim of investing all of that money in just a year, in other words, during the course of 2018, to take advantage of the current cycle.

Although the bulk of Stoneshield’s operations will be carried out in the residential segment, the firm is also interested in acquiring hotels, offices and commercial assets, according to the same sources.

Agreed departure

In November, in an email sent only to his circle of trust, Pepa announced that he was leaving Lone Star and that he would be taking a two-month sabbatical in his home country, Argentina, although in that email he also hinted that after Christmas he would be back in the news in Spain.

Letting that time pass was one of the commitments that Pepa agreed with Lone Star. That firm was already pursuing its exit strategy when, last summer, Santander put Popular’s €30 billion real estate asset portfolio on the market.

The Texan fund, led by Pepa and Morenés, fought to the end to acquire those assets, which would have resulted in Lone Star’s continuation in Spain. But Blackstone’s triumph meant that the fund decided to continue with its policy to close the cycle and so Pepa and Morenés opted to put their own plans into play.

Then, according to the sources, the two parties agreed to wait for Lone Star to complete its divestment from Neinor before moving actively in the Spanish market. The US fund sold its final 12.5% stake in the real estate company last week.

Morenés, meanwhile, has also left Lone Star, according to Vozpópuli, and the two partners are now working to create a team of around 10 people with whom they plan to operate with the same speed and element of surprise that characterised Lone Star when it first arrived in Spain.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

The Vilella Family Puts its ‘Helios Hotels’ Portfolio up for Sale for €110M

9 January 2018 – Eje Prime

The Spanish hotel sector is starting 2018 in the same way that it closed 2017, with negotiations for the sale of portfolios. Whilst during the final days of last year, the sector witnessed the sale of HI Partners, which was sold by Sabadell to Blackstone, and the acquisition of all of the shares in the chain Bay by Hispania, January is starting with the placement on the market of Helios Hotels, the chain owned by the Catalan Vilella family and Mehdi Hamila. The objective of the partners is to raise €110 million from the different assets that the company owns in the Balearic Islands, Cataluña, the Community of Valencia and Andalucía.

With 1,000 rooms in total, the Helios portfolio contains four hotels and an aparthotel, although the company is yet to receive an offer that meets its expectations, according to Crónica Global. The hotel chain’s assets comprise: Helios Lloret (Girona), Helios Mallorca, Helios Costa Tropical (Almuñécar, Granada), Helios Benidorm (Alicante) and Apartamentos Helios Mallorca.

The Vilella family is renowned in the hotel sector on the Costa Brava, where, through the family company Turiexpert, it owns the Hotel San Carlos in Roses.

Original story: Eje Prime 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Silicius Socimi Acquires Eroski Store in San Sebastián

4 October 2017 – Press Release

Eroski and Silicius Socimi, managed by Mazabi, have signed the sale of a property owned by the supermarket chain on Plaza Arroka, 2 in San Sebastián. The establishment, which operates under the Eroski City brand, will continue its normal activity under a lease arrangement.

“The operation forms part of our business plan, which involves divesting real estate assets to focus on our retail activity”, explained the Director of Property Development and Services at Eroski, Javier España.

The retail store has a surface area of almost 2,000 m2 and is located on the ground floor of a building inside the new San Bartolomé Muinoa urban development (…).

The operation fits within the Socimi’s new growth phase. Silicius plans to invest up to €300 million in these types of assets over the coming months. Currently, the firm owns assets worth €120 million, which generate annual rental income of €6 million (…).

About Silicius

Silicius is a Socimi, managed by Mazabi, specialising in the purchase and active management of rental assets that generate stable long-term rental income for its shareholders to provide them with an annual dividend (…).

About Eroski

Eroski is the largest cooperative distribution group in Spain and is a leading player in the regions of Galicia, País Vasco, Navarra, Cataluña and the Balearic Islands. It has a commercial network of 1,784 establishments, more than 6 million customers and more than 32,000 cooperative partners and employees.

Original story: Press Release

Translation: Carmel Drake

Greystar, AXA IM–Real Assets & GIP Buy Spanish Student Housing Provider Resa

7 December 2017 – PE Hub

Greystar Real Estate Partners has acquired Spain-based Resa, a student accommodation provider. The acquisition was made via a joint venture partnership that includes AXA Investment Managers – Real Assets and CBRE Global Investment Partners. No financial terms were disclosed.

Greystar Real Estate Partners (“Greystar”), a global leader in the investment, development, and management of rental housing properties, closed today, through a joint venture (“JV”) partnership, on the acquisition of Resa, the largest student accommodation provider in Spain. The JV includes AXA Investment Managers – Real Assets (“AXA IM – Real Assets”) and CBRE Global Investment Partners (GIP), both acting on behalf of clients, who have acquired the substantial majority holding in the portfolio in equal sized shares, while Greystar has bought the remaining balance and will act as property, development and asset manager for the portfolio. The deal is the largest investment transaction in student housing on the Iberian Peninsula.

The previously announced JV partnership marks Greystar’s first investment in Spain and will serve as a platform to build a diversified rental housing business and portfolio with backing from global institutional capital.

“The Resa portfolio is undoubtedly Spain’s premier student accommodation provider and will provide Greystar with a significant presence in the prime markets of Madrid and Barcelona on which to build out a diversified Spanish rental housing platform,” said Wes Fuller, Executive Managing Director of Greystar’s Investment Management business. “We are excited by the tremendous opportunity in the country, and look forward to bringing Greystar’s proven business model and institutional capital to the Spanish market for the long term.”

Resa is Spain’s market leader in student accommodation managing 9,309 student beds in 19 Spanish cities, including tier one cities Madrid and Barcelona, in addition to Andalucía, Cataluña, Galicia, Navarra, Pais Vasco, Salamanca and Valencia. Resa, managed by Azora since 2011, has experienced significant growth during this period, increasing from 26 to 37 residences, of which four are currently under development. The JV portfolio will continue to trade under the Resa brand with Greystar assuming responsibility for overall management. Resa will operate as a fully Greystar-owned and managed business.

In addition to the Resa acquisition, Greystar together with its strategic long-term partners plans to invest further in the Spanish rental housing market, including additional student, young professional and senior housing for rent. Greystar is currently evaluating a pipeline of opportunities across Spain and Portugal including Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon and other key Iberian cities.

“We are thrilled to add this high-quality well-established portfolio to Greystar’s growing European platform. As a global provider of rental housing, we are constantly looking for opportunities to expand into attractive new markets, and this acquisition does exactly that,” said Steven Zeeman, Greystar’s Managing Director of Continental Europe. “Spain is one of Europe’s fastest-growing economies with a serious shortage of purpose-built rental accommodation suitable for students and young professionals. Home ownership in the country has fallen in recent years, particularly with the country’s young and highly mobile urban population wanting a flexible alternative.

Despite this healthy appetite for new rental housing, construction has failed to keep pace with demand. The rental housing sector remains highly fragmented, with no established market for the type of purpose-built rental accommodation known as multifamily in the United States. Our investment strategy will allow us to develop a significant multifamily pipeline in Spain and grow our platform to realize the potential we see in the country.” (…).

About Greystar

Greystar is a leading, fully integrated multifamily real estate company offering expertise in investment management, development and property management of rental housing properties globally. Headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina with offices throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia-Pacific, Greystar is the largest operator of apartments in the United States, managing over 420,000 units in over 130 markets globally, with an aggregate estimated value of approximately $80 billion. Greystar also has a robust institutional investment management platform dedicated to managing capital on behalf of a global network of institutional investors with over $23 billion in gross assets under management, including more than $8 billion of developments that have been completed or are underway. Greystar was founded by Bob Faith in 1993 with the intent to become a world-class class service in the rental housing real estate business.

Original story: PE Hub (by Iris Dorbian)

Translation: Carmel Drake