The Lack of a Spanish Government Halts Aena’s Real Estate Ambitions

14 October 2019 The airport operator Aena has yet to get approval to go ahead with construction on two residential developments around Madrid-Barajas and Barcelona-El Prat due to the lack of a political agreement to form a new Spanish government. The firm had hoped to start the works in Madrid and Barcelona this year. However, the plots of land are still untouched.

Aena’s project in Madrid will occupy around 200,000 square meters of land in a total investment forecast at €2.997 billion over the next 40 years. Existing plans divide the space into four areas: a logistics hub, airport services, an aeronautical maintenance centre and leisure areas.

In Barcelona, ​​the 300,000 square meter area will have a total investment of €1.264 billion. The project will try to attract technology companies and logistics platforms as well as hotels, restaurants and offices to service the airport.

Funds that invest in the airport operator have been pushing the government to install an independent CEO, separate from any governmental changes, to facilitate work.

Original Story: Economía Digital – Carles Huguet

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

Corpfin Sells 13 Commercial Premises to Swiss Life for €83M

10 July 2018 – Idealista News

The Swiss do not only come to Spain to go on holiday. Through its real estate arm, the insurance company Swiss Life has purchased thirteen premises from the fund Corpfin Capital Prime Retail Assets (Ccpr) for €83 million.

The sales have been carried out through the two Corpfin Socimis that are listed on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB): Corpfin Capital Prime Retail II Socimi (Ccpr II) and Corpfin Capital Prime Retail III Socimi (Ccpr III). The contract for the sale of the portfolio was signed in June, according to Idealista News.

Swiss Life is investing in Spain for the first time. It already tried to enter the  Iberian real estate market with the acquisition of a package of offices from Hispania. The Socimi, which put that portfolio up for sale for €500 million, subsequently pulled out of the sale following the public takeover bid from Blackstone and the political instability in the country.

With assets worth €69.2 billion in the Pan-European market, Swiss Life focuses its investment in the office business, which accounts for 37% of its portfolio, followed by the residential business with 32%. Retail accounts for just 16% of its investments and the remainder of its portfolio is split between the logistics sector, the hotel segment and alternative assets.

In the case of Corpfin, the group founded by Javier Basagoiti created a new Socimi in April with €400 million to invest in high street stores. The roadmap for Basagoiti’s company involves raising €200 million this year to double the capital by the end of 2021.

Original story: Idealista News

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 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

Testa Postpones its Stock Market Debut Due to Political and Market Instability

29 May 2018 – Europa Press

Testa Residencial has postponed its debut on the stock market, initially planned for June, in light of the volatility on the stock market due to the political instability in the country, according to sources at the company speaking to Europa Press.

The rental home Socimi in which Santander and BBVA hold stakes has also decided to debut on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB) rather than list directly on the main stock market as originally planned.

In this way, in order to not lose the status of Socimi, which establishes a deadline for the firm to debut on the stock market, Testa Residencial will have to list on the MAB before 30 September, although it does not rule out debuting on the main stock market in a second phase.

Testa Residencial is whereby the second company, after Azora, to decide to delay its planned debut on the stock market, although in the case of that real estate asset management firm, it attributed its postponement to the takeover that Blackstone has launched over Hispania, one of its main clients.

In the case of Testa, the firm had planned to start trading on the stock market during the second half of June, and was looking at the 22nd of the month as the likely debut date.

The rental home Socimi had planned to make its debut through a public offering of shares (OPV) and a public subscription offering (OPS) of new shares, the latter for €130 million, both aimed at institutional investors.

Second postponed debut

In this way, Testa was going to become the second entity to debut on the main stock market this year, after Metrovacesa in February, but now it is the second real estate company to decide to postpone its debut.

The decisions by Azora and Testa may influence other firms in the sector that had also planned to make their own stock market debuts, such as Vía Célere and Haya Real Estate, the servicer owned by the US fund Cerberus. In that case, the firm’s debut is dependent on the closure of the asset management contracts that it is currently negotiating with BBVA and Sareb.

In terms of Testa Residencial, by virtue of the OPV, the Socimi Merlin Properties had planned to exit its share capital, by placing on the market its entire 17% stake in the firm.

The market was also expecting that Santander and BBVA would sell some of their shares in the rental home company, which amount to 37% and 26%, respectively. Acciona, meanwhile, had not yet taken a decision regarding its 20% stake in the company.

Testa Residencial is one of the largest rental home companies in the country, given that it owns a portfolio of 10,700 homes, worth €2.275 billion.

With its leap onto the stock market, the firm intends to consolidate its position as a new real estate giant, unprecedented in the country, given its specialisation in primary home rentals, at a time when that segment is experiencing in a boom in Spain.

Original story: Europa Press

Translation: Carmel Drake

Change of Heart: Slim Suspends Sale of Torre Realia in Barcelona

15 January 2018 – Eje Prime

Carlos Slim has changed his mind about Torre Realia in Barcelona. The real estate company owned by the Mexican magnate has decided to suspend the sales process of its most iconic asset in the Catalan capital, according to explanations provided by sources close to the process. Realia has received offers for more than the asking price (€140 million), however, the company has decided not to sell, citing changes in the company’s strategy.

Last June, Realia entrusted JLL and BNP Paribas with the mandate to sell this asset, equivalent to Torre Kio in Madrid. The tower is located in one of the fastest growing areas of the Catalan capital in terms of the office sector, in Plaza Europa, which is set to become the city’s new business district.

Although sources at the group claim that the decision is linked to a change in strategy, given that the offers that Realia had on the table were “higher than the price set by the real estate group”, it seems that the political situation and the climate of instability may have also been triggers for Slim’s group to decide to postpone the sale to a later date.

Realia’s trophy asset in Barcelona has 24 floors and a surface area of 31,960 m2, as well as 399 parking spaces. The property, which comprises two buildings, was designed by the architect Toyo Ito, in collaboration with Fermín Vázquez, from the B720 Arquitectos studio. Torre Realia is 110 m tall and its ground floor houses a shopping arcade that joins the two towers.

In terms of its real estate activity, at the end of the first half of 2017, Realia primarily owned offices and shopping centres for rent, which spanned a combined surface area of 405,842 m2 and had an occupancy rate of 93.5%. Moreover, at that time, it also owned an asset measuring 18,324 m2, in the form of the Los Cubos building in Madrid, which it ended up selling to the French group Therus for €52 million.

Realia’s stock of offices for rent spans a surface area of 226,729 m2, with an occupancy rate of 94.7%. Moreover, the company owns 41 residential plots for family homes, destined for self-promotion, which it has put up for sale. Realia’s current land portfolio spans a buildable surface area of 1,851,392 m2, of which 49% is located in Madrid and the central region of Spain, according to data from the group.

Plaza Europa, on the rise

The sale of Torre Realia comes at a time when the area in which it is located is enjoying a real boom. As the headquarters of KPMG in Barcelona, Realia’s asset has seen its value rise in recent months thanks to the large number of operations that have been closed in this enclave and to the growing number of large corporations that are moving their head offices to this new financial district, in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.

One of the main players in the area is the Puig family, which has joined forces with the Catalan Socimi Colonial to build a 14,000 m2 tower at Plaza Europa 46, right opposite Grupo Puig’s corporate headquarters, which it just purchased from BBVA for around €60 million.

Original story: Eje Prime (by Custodio Pareja)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Neinor Homes Considers Buying Land in Canary Islands

27 December 2017 – El Periódico de Canarias

Neinor Homes is considering entering the real estate market in the Canary Islands in 2018, according to its CEO Juan VelayosIt is also planning to generate profits and start buying land in Cataluña again, despite the political instability. Finally, Velayos forecasts that house prices will continue to rise at a rate of 5% over the next two years.

“House prices will continue to rise at a rate of 5% due to the gap between supply and demand. Then, prices will stabilise and grow at a rate of between 1% and 1.5% per year”, he explained to Efe.

In his opinion, 500,000 homes should be sold per year in Spain and 30% of those should be new build properties, equivalent to around 150,000, compared with the 80,000 that are currently being sold. The difference between those two figures shows that there is still a great deal of potential in the real estate development sector.

In terms of the performance of his company, which made its stock market debut in March, Velayos explained that this year will end with a positive EBITDA and with almost 100 developments “launched”, of which 33 are already under construction (around 2,500 homes).

In total, the company owns a buildable land bank on which it can construct 12,300 homes, of which 8,000 correspond to developments already underway.

“We want to always have two thirds of our land working”, said Velayos, who explained that his firm will continue buying land, primarily in Madrid, Barcelona, País Vasco and Valencia, at the same time as looking at entering new markets such as the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Galicia and Lisbon (Portugal).

From 2019 onwards, the purchases will be financed using the recurrent cash flow that Neinor expects to generate, according to Velayos, who added that, if necessary, the company may also resort to capital and/or debt increases.

In Cataluña, which currently accounts for 22% of the value of Neinor’s total housing portfolio, the real estate developer’s commercial activity has not been affected by the political uncertainty.

“We have sold everything and we only have four plots left to launch. I want to buy more land there”, said the executive, who, nevertheless, warned that he worries that Cataluña will be “impoverished” if the instability continues.

“If the situation continues, Cataluña will go from being one of the main drivers of the company to being replaced by another region, but I hope that someone can bring coherence. In the short-term, regardless of what happens, we are going to buy more land”, said Velayos. The CEO added that the company is fulfilling its plans and so will start making profits in 2018. Moreover, it will reach its “cruising speed” by 2020, with the handover of 3,500 homes per year, a turnover of €1 billion, an EBITDA of €0.2 billion and a profit of between €0.13 billion and €0.14 billion.

In terms of the composition of its shareholders, Velayos expects that Lone Star, the founder of the company, will block sell the 12.5% stake that it still holds in Neinor in the short term, after the lock-up period that it signed up to has ended, on 15 December.

Original story: El Periódico de Canarias

Translation: Carmel Drake

Without Secessionist Threat, Merlin Would Invest Twice As Much In Barcelona

16 June 2017 – Expansión

The President of Merlin Properties, Ismael Clemente (pictured above), confirmed yesterday that his Socimi would invest “twice as much in Cataluña in the absence of the political instability there”. “Our investments in Barcelona account for 16% of the total at the moment, but we could invest up to 30%”, he said. However “the types of political movements based on superiority do not create any kind of sympathy amongst investors”, he added, and so “we are not able to invest as much as we would like to in Cataluña”.

Regarding the reactions that international investors – including some of Merlin’s shareholders – have had to the political problems in Cataluña, Clemente said that “there is no kind of sympathy for the topic” and that “if the (Spanish) Government were to give a more definite reaction, both the international investor community and the Ibex 35 would applaud it”.

Clemente, who participated yesterday in the Annual Meeting of the Esade Alumni Real Estate Club, in Barcelona, said that the Catalan sovereign process may also affect the city’s candidacy to host the European Medicines Agency. “The project has a lot of potential, the coordination between the administrations is exemplary and the proposal is spectacular, but Barcelona has a gigantic problem, the political issue”, he added.


Ismael Clemente shared the discussion table with Colonial’s CEO, Pere Viñolas. They addressed issues such as the change in the cycle of some international real estate markets. “The deceleration in London and New York may have a limited impact here, but Spain will continue to grow and at a faster rate than other European economies”, said Clemente. Viñolas added that the only approach is “to focus on industrial added value because it is the only margin that we can work with”.

Original story: Expansión (Marisa Anglés)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Some House Prices Have Risen By 20% Since Q1 2015

10 October 2016 – Expansión

Money is seeking refuge and returns in the real estate sector once again. Real estate assets, which experienced such significant gains at the beginning of the century and which, shortly thereafter, generated so many problems, represent one of the main options for investors in Spain once again. The significant instability that we are seeing in the stock markets; the absence of attractive investment products from the banks; and the many doubts hanging over the global economic recovery, mean that many investors are now backing the security being offered by the, until recently, maligned Spanish real estate sector.

“In the current economic climate, characterised by market volatility and negative interest rates, the real estate sector, and in particular, the luxury residential segment, is becoming the safest choice for investors”, explained sources at the real estate consultancy firm Knight Frank.

These data are corroborated by the evolution of prices in some of the main areas of Madrid and Barcelona. According to data published by the appraisal company Tinsa, since Q1 2015, which is when it is considered that prices in the sector hit rock bottom, prices in the centre of Madrid have soared by more than 10%. Specifically, in the neighbourhood of Salamanca, the increase has been almost as high and the price per sqm now amounts to €3,500/sqm. The increase in the Cataluñan capital is even more pronounced and in the Ensanche de Barcelona area, prices have risen by 20%, from €2,717/sqm at the beginning of 2015 to more than €3,200 at the end of Q3 2016. Moreover, prices rose by more than 15% in the Gracia neighbourhood and by 13% in Sarriá.

This situation is the result of the economic recovery in the country, but also the apepal that the real estate sector has for overseas investors. According to Knight Frank, Latin America and European investors are being very active in their purchases, given that prices fall well below those seen in cities such as Paris, London and Milan.

This good image of the Spanish property sector overseas is going to be maintained over the next few years. That is according to Deutsche Asset Management, which reaffirmed its advice to “buy” in the real estate sector in Spain in a recent report.

“We expect significant returns to be generated (…), well above those being offered in other European markets”, it said.

The only problem that both the manager of Deutsche Bank and Knight Frank are concerned by is political instability. In fact, the real estate consultancy said that “we cannot avoid the situation of political uncertainty that Spain has been living for the last 10 months (…). Activity has been good in the sector but with a stable Government, the growth rate could have been exponential”.

Nevertheless, this obstacle is not likely to outweigh the attractive returns being offered by the sector. According to forecasts from the consultancy CBRE, real estate investment between now and the end of the year is expected to amount to almost €3,000 million, taking the total for the year to between €8,500 million and €9,000 million.

Original story: Expansión (by Daniel Viaña and César Urrutia)

Translation: Carmel Drake

RE Experts: Now Is A Good Time To Buy A Home

1 August 2016 – El Economista

The Professional Association of Real Estate Experts (APEI) thinks that now is a “good time” to buy a home because the prices of second-hand homes “are not going to fall any further”, but it warns of the risks ahead if the political uncertainty persists. Those were the views of the President of APEI, Óscar Martínez, who highlighted that “there has been movement” in the market over the last two years and that “price increases have been widespread”.

According to the latest data from Eurostat, house prices rose in Spain by 6.3% (in Q1 2016), the highest increase since 2007, and by 4% across Europe. “There are not many new builds, which will push prices up further still”, forecasts Martínez, who thinks that now is a “good time” to buy.

In this sense, he predicts that the prices of second-hand homes are not going to fall any further and that the trend is going to be towards “stabilisation or slight increases”, above all in places where there is a shortage of housing, given that there are “very few new builds”.

Similarly, he advises homeowners to hold onto their properties unless absolutely necessary, given that “it is true that if you sell cheaply, you buy cheaply, but if you are thinking about investment, now is not the time to sell. Now is the time to sell only if strictly necessary, to change home, for example”.

The recovery will continue at a slow pace

In general, homes in good condition are more expensive than they were in 2013, when prices had decreased by 45% compared with the peak of the real estate bubble, in 2007, according to APEI, which currently represents a network of around 1,300 real estate agencies all over Spain.

The average price of private housing per square metre now stands at around €1,600/sqm, compared with €2,085/sqm in 2007, which meanst that prices now are very similar to those recorded in 2004, according to data from INE.

“Properties below that price generally have very few options for sale”, explained the President of APEI, who stated that “they are typically properties in bad locations or of poor quality, which are sold or attempted to be sold very cheaply. In other countries, those kinds of properties would be demolished”.

Regarding investments by groups, the President of APEI said that they are underway in large capitals, such as Madrid and Barcelona, but they are not been seen in the smaller capitals yet.

Meanwhile, Martínez thinks that, after the summer, and if the unemployment rate continues to fall, the recovery will continue, although at a “slow” pace, but he warns that the threat now comes from political instability. “If this insecurity persists, it will cause delays in the recovery”, he predicts.

Original story: El Economista

Translation: Carmel Drake

Merlin: The Strong RE Inv’t Figures Will Not Be Repeated In 2016

26 February 2016 – Invertia

In the context of the 2nd Meeting of the Real Estate Sector, organised by the IESE business school, Ismael Clemente (pictured above), the President and CEO of Merlin Properties, explained that the investments made in recent years have been due to the improvement in the economic situation, following years of recession.

In any case, Clemente has said that “we are seeing good things in the market”, but we need to “good governance of the country” to confirm the trend.

“It seems like there is little hope for 2016. We would like our political leaders to have a sanity attack and start reaching agreements”, he said.

With regard to this political instability, he has said that some companies “cannot wait” for the situation to be resolved.

When asked about the future of the sector, Clemente forecast a “slight decrease” in demand for offices and explained that companies depend on the fact that “a proportion of their employees are ‘floating’”, which leads to situations of “overbooking”.

“There are companies with 1,400 employees looking for spaces for 1,000 employees”, he said.

Regarding the refinancing of Testa, Clemente criticised the change in the value of the risk premium, and explained that “the widening of 50% of the risk premium is not good business for anyone”.

In terms of new technologies and the changes that they may generate in the real estate market, Clemente explained that Merlin wants to increase its portfolio of logistics facilities in Spain’s main hubs with a view to supporting the growth of online businesses.

Meanwhile, he also pointed out the (wider) need to adapt to new technologies: “Either we start to adapt ourselves now, in the form of training, or we will end up with the destruction of lots of jobs and, therefore, with fewer consumers”.

Original story: Invertia

Translation: Carmel Drake