24 New Shopping Centres Will Open In Spain By 2020

15 September 2016 – Inmodiario

The shopping centre sector grew by 2% during the first 6 months of 2016 in Spain, which can expect to see 24 new centres opening over the next 3 years. In this sense, the shopping centre market will gain 100,000 sqm in additional space in 2017 alone. Moreover, Spain was the second placed country in Europe in terms of visitor number growth to shopping centres during the second quarter of the year, with an increase of 1.1%, behind only Switzerland, with a rise of 1.8%.

“Shopping centres are the main benchmark in the retail sector in Spain, which means that it is crucial that they follow a gradual increasing trend, and that that is in line with the rest of the sector”, said Gerard Marcet, the founding partner of Laborde Marcet, a company that manages real estate investments.

The shopping centre sector comprises up to 549 facilities and 84% of premises have a surface area of less than 300 sqm. The sector generated 330,000 new jobs in 2015, when it managed to increase sales by 6.3% compared to 2014, and reach the €41,000 million threshold. In fact, shopping centres account for 18% of the retail sector (by market share) in Spain.

Investment in the shopping centre sector in Spain amounted to €1,900 million in 2015, meanwhile investment in non-residential retail real estate assets amounted to €3,050 million, compared to €1,848 million in 2014. During the first half of this year, the figure amounted to €1,120 million, i.e. 32% of the total.

In this sense, it is worth noting that US private equity funds accounted for 22% of the transactions involving shopping centres in Spain.

Original story: Inmodiario

Translation: Carmel Drake

KKR Defies Sovereign Fears & Teams Up With Catalan Property Developer Corp

24 June 2016 – El Confidencial

One of the largest private equity funds in the world has arrived with a bang in the Catalan real estate market. KKR is finalising an agreement with the property developer Corp to invest together in new developments, according to three sources familiar with the talks. The agreement is pending the final signature only.

The operation represents a breath of fresh air for the Catalan real estate market, which in recent times, due to the sovereign crisis and the triumph of Ada Colau in Barcelona, has seen several international funds start to regard the region with distrust and give orders to concentrate their investments in Madrid. However, that tension seems to have now diminished.

The importance of these types of funds for domestic property developers is crucial, given that in the face of the shortage of bank financing and the gradual recovery in demand, they are teaming up on a large scale with these types of vehicles, which inject the money they need to build homes.

Although both Corp and KKR declined to comment, the sources consulted confirmed that the US fund is handling this operation through its recently created Real Estate fund for Europe, which has raised $739 million (around €655 million).

As a result of this operation, the firm led in Spain by Jesús Olmos, is redoubling its commitment to the real estate business, where its largest operation to date had been the purchase of a 5.4% stake in another high-profile property developer, Quabit, one of the great survivors of the crisis, which has started to set up its cranes again to build 476 homes.

Moreover, KKR held negotiations with Acciona to strengthen the ties that already bind them in the energy business, by also acquiring a stake in its real estate division, but it seems that that operation has been ruled out in the end. Moreover, two years ago, the firm hired Alejo Vidal-Quadras de Caralt to lead its office in Madrid and join the wave of funds investing in the domestic real estate business.

Property developer of the moment in Cataluña

Grupo Corp is one of the property developers of the moment in the Catalan market. Created in 2008 by Pedro Molina and Pau Castro, the two businessmen knew how to detect business opportunities at the height of real estate crisis that decimated the sector.

Bearing in mind the maxim that from great crises arise great opportunities, Molina and Castro took the wise decision to target the middle-class public, with modern designs and sustainable, high-quality homes, at affordable prices.

In fact, a snapshot of their properties could be summarised as homes measuring around 100 m2, with between two and four bedrooms, located in middle-class neighbourhoods and marketed at prices that range between €170,000 and €370,000.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Cinven Offers €1,300M To Outbid EQT In Auction For Hotelbeds

27 April 2016 – Expansión

The private equity firm Cinven, which has invested heavily in Spain over the last two years, may take a leap forward if its bid for the Hotelbeds group goes ahead. TUI AG put the company up for sale at the end of 2015.

Sources close to the sales process indicate that Cinven has put an offer on the table, which values the tourism company at €1,300 million. The Nordic fund EQT is also participating in the bidding and sources do not rule out the possibility of other interested groups participating in what now seems to be the final stretch of the sales process of the Hotelbeds Group.

The company, a subsidiary of the Germany group TUI AG, works with 75,000 hotels all over the world and offers rooms to tour operators and travel agents around the globe. Hotelbeds, which receives more than 25 million hotel bookings per year, is one of the companies that emerged from the tourism sector thanks to new technologies and it has high growth projections.

Entry into the hotel segment

This would be Cinven’s first major foray into the hotel segment, but it would represent a return to the tourism business. Cinven, a fund headquartered in London, was created in 1977; it went on to acquire Amadeus in 2005, together with BC Partners.

The tourism sector’s technology provider, which was acquired from the major European airlines, was then delisted. In 2010, Cinven and BC Partners returned the company to the stock exchange and sold their shares.

Since its creation, Cinven has made acquisitions amounting to more than €70,000 million, specialising, above all, in investments with a significant technological component and always with holdings that exceed €100 million. (…).

Meanwhile, Hotelbeds has been on the market since last Autumn. Financial sources valued it at around €1,000 million. TUI had hoped to complete the sales process during the first three or four months of the year, and so a final agreement could be very close. Nevertheless, the emergence of the fund EQT in the process will intensify the Hotelbed operation.

Similarly, financial sources do not rule out that other funds may be preparing their own competitive offers.

Diversified portfolio

EQT, of Swedish origin, has assets under management of €29,000 million and its investment portfolio is very varied. In Spain, it holds stakes in two companies, Islalink and Parkia, which operate in the telecommunications and car park sectors, respectively.

EQT opened an office in Madrid in the middle of last year with the aim of looking for new investments in the Spanish and Portuguese markets. The fund hired a specialist team led by Fernando Conte, the former Chairman of Iberia and the tourism group Orizonia.

At the beginning of February, EQT bought the Swiss tourism group Kuoni for more than €1,100 million and, according to sources in the sector, it plans to integrate that business with the Hotelbeds Group.

For TUI AG, the sale of this company will mean saying goodbye to the online sector to focus on its traditional businesses: hotels and cruises. During the year to 30 September 2015, TUI AG generated revenues of more than €20,000 million, with an EBITDA of €1,069 million, up by almost 23%. Its shares closed at €13.09 on the stock exchange yesterday, up by 0.47%.

Original story: Expansión (by M.Á.Patiño and Y.Blanco)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Bridgepoint & Cinven Enter The Bid For Tinsa

22 February 2016 – Expansión

Advent International is pushing ahead with its sale of Tinsa, the largest real estate appraisal company in Spain, which the US fund has controlled since 2010. Neither the turbulent start to the year on the markets, nor the political uncertainty enveloping the country, has managed to temper the interest in the operation, which looks set to become one of the major private equity transactions of 2016.

Amongst the candidates for the acquisition are two real heavyweights from the international private equity sector, namely Bridgepoint and Cinven, according to sources familiar with the process, who explain that the sale has attracted significant interest from potential investors, not only in the financial sector but also industry giants. Advent has declined to comment.

The final stretch

The fund, which is led in Spain by Carlos Santana, CEO, and which is being advised by the investment bank Rothschild, launched the sale of Tinsa in January, with a view to receiving initial offers this week.

Now, a select phase of bidding will begin for those candidates who have made the first cut – a group that includes Bridgepoint and Cinven – to allow them to deepen their understanding of the company and refine their bid proposals. If everything goes according to schedule, the bidders will communicate their binding offers by early April, according to sources.

Although the circumstances surrounding the sale of Tinsa are not the most favourable, sources in the sector say that the process is evolving in line with the market’s high expectations, which point to a hard-fought auction with high bids. The total valuation of the appraisal company amounts to around €300 million, according to sources.

This amount represents around ten times Tinsa’s forecast EBITDA for this year. The results for 2015 have not yet been published, but the company is certain that it managed to increase revenues by 12% with respect to 2014, to €86 million and to reach an EBITDA of €20 million, which it expects will rise to around €30 million in 2016. (…).

The US fund Advent acquired its 94.5% stake in the real estate appraisal company in November 2010 (the rest of the capital remained in the hands of the management team) for around €100 million. In this way, it took control of the stakes previously owned by 35 savings banks. At that time, the Spanish property sector was in real turmoil after the burst of the real estate bubble and financial entities were facing unprecedented consolidation and restructuring processes.

To avoid succumbing to that adversity, Tinsa committed itself to international expansion, under the tutelage of Advent. During the period since then, it has acquired Zala in Colombia and Prime Yield in Brazil. Today, Tinsa has offices in Chile, Mexico, Argentina, Peru and Colombia, as well as in Spain and Portugal, and it offers its services in around twenty countries. 20% of the appraisal company’s revenues in 2014 came from overseas, compared with 5% in 2010. At home, the company bought Tasamadrid from Bankia in 2012. (…).

Original story: Expansión (by D. Badía and M. Ponce de León)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Corpfin Capital Lists 2nd Investment Vehicle On MAB

28 January 2016 – Expansión

After debuting its first Socimi on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB) last September, Corpfin Capital is trying its luck on the Madrid stock exchange once again, just four months later, in the form of its second listed investment vehicle, Corpfin Capital Prime Retail III, which starred yesterday in the first ring of the bell in 2016.

The real estate arm of Corpfin Capital, which has so far launched four investment vehicles, is intending to create a fifth entity this year with a view to entering new businesses and expanding the mix of assets to include the residential, hotel, office and retail segments. “We are exploring other types of investments, but through another vehicle”, explained Javier Basagoiti, Managing Partner of Corpfin Capital Real Estate and President of the new Socimi.

Specifically, the two Socimis have a joint investment capacity of €110 million for 2016 and they have already spent €76 million. “The remaining €30 million has already been allocated to the purchase of assets, mostly in Madrid”, says Basagoiti, who rules out a capital increase for the time being.

The Director explained that he expects (the vehicle) to provide investors with an annual return of more than 15%, compared with the current yield of 7%.

Despite the sudden rise of the Socimis – Corpfin Capital Prime Retail III is the twelfth company of its kind to list on the MAB –, Basagoiti denies that a Socimi bubble is emerging, instead he regards the vehicles as investment “opportunities”. “A bubble would be created if the investment policy was no good and it was playing on the change in the (economic) cycle with risky investments”, he said. 90% of the company’s investors are domestic and 10% are from the United Arab Emirates. “We focus on small-time savers and private banking clients”, he says.

The real estate area is one of Corpfin Capital’s core business areas; its primary activity is the management of private equity funds.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Arcano Launches Its First RE Investment Fund

29 July 2015 – El Economista

Arcano, one of the most active players in the asset management sector (with private equity funds of funds and funds with loans for companies, with €3,000 million of managed or advised assets) has decided to launch a third business line: investment in all kinds of real estate assets.

According to José Luis del Río (pictured above), CEO of Arcano Real Estate, the first fund will have a budget of €200 million. “We hope that, a year from now, once we have completed the fund raising process, we will have more overseas investors than domestic. For our first partial close in July, we have secured commitments amounting to €50 million, of which three quarters have been pledged by Spanish players. We wanted to start by inviting local investors as we have been working with them for many years”.

Arcano has created an integrated team, comprising seven property management professionals, to evaluate its investments. They are looking to benefit from opportunities in a sector that is currently undergoing a strong recovery after eight years of falling prices.


“We want to differentiate ourselves from the large international funds that focus on securing the lowest possible prices, and from the socimis, which are paying over the odds in some cases as they seek to secure rental income to pay their shareholders. We want to add value and through that, build the return for the fund. We will not act in an opportunistic way”.

Between 50% and 70% of our investment will be focused on the residential market. From the development of land in good locations, in cities or on the coast, in conjunction with real estate developers, to the renovation of buildings. “Local developers will be our partners, not our competition”, explains Del Río, who has 25 years of experience in the sector, first as Head of Real Estate at AB Asesores, then at Morgan Stanley (which acquired AB) and subsequently at N+1, where he was the Director of Real Estate until 2011.

We will differentiate ourselves by entering operations that require investment and specialist management, such as the transformation of buildings to change their use, for example from a hotel to an office. “Provided these changes of use are already approved, we will not have to assume any urban planning risk”, says the Director.

In terms of regions, the team will focus primarily on Madrid and then on the coast, Bilbao and Sevilla for residential assets. For offices, it will look only at Madrid and maybe Barcelona; and for hotels and shopping centres, it will consider the whole country. Finally, for logistics assets, it will analyse Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza and Valencia. “We will be a very small and very RE-focused fund. And we will work quickly. We will close the first transactions before the end of the year, possibly in Madrid”. The average ticket will be between €5 million and €25 million.

Original story: El Economista (by Carlos Pizá)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Blackstone To Offer Debt Forgiveness On Spanish Mortgages

1 July 2015 – Bloomberg

Blackstone Group LP is seeking to restructure some of the €6.4 billion Spanish home loans it bought at a discount to help borrowers meet repayments, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

The world’s largest private equity firm is offering to cut outstanding debt or allow homeowners to hand back the keys and walk away from loans, said two of the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. Blackstone holds the mortgages of 40,000 homeowners in Spain after buying the debt for €3.6 billion from struggling savings bank CatalunyaCaixa.

Blackstone can avoid the time and expense of repossessing homes by helping borrowers find ways to continue paying their mortgages, something that is more difficult for Spanish banks because of provisioning requirements and central bank regulations. Avoiding evictions may also mute political claims that private investors are coming to Spain to take people’s homes away.

“If you are struggling to pay your mortgage, you are undoubtedly better off having Blackstone as your creditor than a traditional Spanish bank,” said Juan Villen, Head of Mortgage Services at property website Idealista.com. “Blackstone can be much more flexible.”

Andrew Dowler, a London-based spokesman for Blackstone, declined to comment when called by Bloomberg News.

Loan Portfolio

The subject of Spaniards losing their homes is a hot-button political issue, with power in the Madrid and Barcelona town halls swinging to parties that pledged to ban evictions during municipal elections in May. The Platform Against Evictions activist group organized demonstrations outside Blackstone’s offices in New York, London, Madrid and Barcelona in March, and posted a video on its website accusing the firm of intending to evict “en masse.”

Anticipa, Blackstone’s mortgage servicing unit, took over the management of the loan portfolio two months ago, with about 75 percent of the debt classified as under-performing or non-performing, according to the people. It will take about seven years to restructure the debt, they said.

Spanish home prices have fallen by more than 42% since the peak in 2007, according to Tinsa, Spain’s largest homes appraiser. That has left about a fifth of borrowers in negative equity, according to Villen. Lenders in the country foreclosed on more than 70,000 properties in 2014, with Andalusia, Catalunya and Valencia hit the hardest, according to the National Statistics Institute, which began compiling data at that start of that year.

Post Keys

Blackstone’s plan to allow homeowners to post the keys and walk away from their debts, a legal process known as “dation in payment”, is seen as a significant step by analysts.

“Unlike in the U.S. and other European countries, Spanish law stipulates a bank can foreclose on a home and still pursue the borrower for the rest of his life if the value of the loan is higher than the price that the bank forecloses at,” Villen said. “The offer of “dation in payment” is a refreshing way of approaching borrowers that are in negative equity.”

The private equity company will only foreclose on “strategic defaulters” who can pay but refuse to, while homeowners at risk of social exclusion, which represent about 3% of Blackstone’s portfolio, will be allowed to remain in their property paying subsidized rents, the people said.

Original story: Bloomberg (by Sharon R. Smyth)

Edited by: Carmel Drake

HIG Capital Buys ‘Plaza Éboli’ Shopping Centre For €30M

24 June 2015 – Expansión

This purchase represents HIG Capital’s eighteenth investment in Europe since early 2013 and its fifth in Spain. The private equity fund is based in Miami. 

The private equity fund HIG Capital has acquired the Plaza Éboli shopping centre in the Madrilenian suburb of Pinto…from the venture capital firm Doughty Hanson.

The company has not revealed the consideration paid, but reports say it amounted to €30 million.

The shopping centre, which opened in 2005, has a surface area of more than 31,000 m2 and its tenants include large retail distributors, such as Inditex, H&M, C&A and Cortefiel.

HIG is continuing to expand its exceptional portfolio of real estate assets in Europe, which span both financing and capital contributions. It places a special emphasis on opportunities in small- and medium-sized companies, its target market.

HIG’s Director, Ahmed Hamdani, says that the purchase of the Plaza Éboli shopping centre “demonstrates” the company’s capacity to “identify assets with strong growth potential” and to close “complex acquisitions” in short time frames. (…)

Since it was founded in 1993, HIG has invested and managed more than 200 companies all over the world. The firm’s current portfolio comprises 80 companies with aggregate annual revenues of more than €22,000 million.

Original story: Expansión (by M. L. Verbo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Investors Spend €12,000M On RE Assets In 15m To Mar 15

5 June 2015 – Expansión

International funds, private investors and other companies have purchased assets worth almost €12,000 million during the last 15 months. American investors favour large properties, whilst Asians players prefer hotels.

The purchases of almost €12,000 million…mean that the Spanish market has returned to its pre-crisis levels and illustrate the focus that investors from around the world have placed on our country. But, what is the profile of these buyers? And which assets do they prefer?

According to data from the last 15 months, office buildings and shopping centres have been the star investments. Nevertheless, rather than making direct purchases, investors, both Spanish and overseas, have chosen to participate in the market through the new listed companies for real estate investment (Socimis).

For their stock market debuts, the four large Spanish Socimis – Merlin Properties, Hispania Real, Axiare and Lar España – raised funds amounting to more than €2,550 million; and this year they have undertaken capital increases to raise another €1,300 million…Hispania raised €550 million for the IPO of its Socimi subsidiary, from large international investors such as the US magnates George Soros and John Paulson. Just a few weeks ago, it raised a further €337 million from investors with a similar profile. Meanwhile, the real estate company GMP secured €300 million from the Singapore fund GIC.


The four Socimis have created portfolios worth around €4,000 million. These companies, headquartered in Spain, have been the major investors. Thus, 64% of the €2,727 million invested in offices was disbursed by Spanish investors. “The main Spanish investors are Socimis, but they also include investment funds, private equity firms, wealth managers and family offices. The average price for this type of transaction is €29 million, compared with the large deals carried out by British investors (above all investment banks and private investment companies), which exceed €100 million”, explain sources at the consultancy JLL.

Spanish investors have also exceeded foreigners in terms of the purchase of retail premises; 78% compared with 22%, respectively. “During 2014 and Q1 2015, Spanish investors spent €738 million on retail premises. The average price of these transactions was €37 million and the typical buyers were retail operators (such as fashion brands), family offices and private investors”, say JLL.

Meanwhile, international buyers dominate the market for shopping centres and hotels. Of the €3,092 million invested in shopping centres between January 2014 and March 2015, 82% was foreign capital, thanks to the purchases made by US funds such as Tiaa Henderson and specialist companies, such as the French firm Klépierre.

Almost €2,500 million has been invested in hotels in the last 15 months and 55% of the capital invested was foreign. Furthermore, it was very diversified, with Chinese investors such as the Wanda Group and Qatari funds, such as Katara Hospitality buying hotels in Spain – the latter acquired the InterContinental Hotel in Madrid. (…)

In the residential segment, several US funds have chosen to buy land in Spain. The clearest case is Lone Star, which has become the largest developer of land in the country. (…)

Original story: Expansión (by R. Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

RE Sector: Are The Mistakes Of The Past Being Repeated?

3 June 2015 – Expansión

Overseas investors are exerting significant buy-side pressure, which is driving up property prices; the experts hope that rental prices will increase accordingly, otherwise another bubble will begin to grow, they fear.

The mass entry of foreign capital into Spain’s real estate market after six years of absolute drought has led to significant changes in the sector, but some (experts) fear that the mistakes of the past may be repeated. At a meeting of experts from the real estate sector, organised by Expansión and KPMG, the speakers agreed that the (economic) cycle has now changed, but they warned against the speed of the price increases in certain segments and the indebtedness of some transactions.

CBRE’s CEO in Spain said that “two years ago, we could not have dreamed of such a rapid recovery”. He added: “From the outside, the investment sector validates that Spain will do its homework and that rental prices will recover, however these rents must increase, since they are the lifeblood of the sector; if not, we will be inflating a new bubble”.

The director of the Masters in RE Consultancy at the University of Barcelona, Gonzalo Bernardos, is more pessimistic. “We are witnessing a new cycle of growth that is going to result in further price rises in Spain; whether that is harmful or not will depend on the financial institution, but I personally have serious doubts as to whether the banks have learned anything”, he said.


By contrast, the partner responsible for Real Estate at KPMG in Spain, Javier López Torres said that “banks are reviewing transactions with tremendous care, they are not managing land any more”. And he confirmed that “in a residential building, for example, the loan to value ratio must not exceed 50%”.

The CEO of Hi Partners, Alejandro Hernández-Puértolas also thinks that “the analysis that banks are currently performing with respect to hotel assets goes beyond their mere value, it is completely different from a few years ago”. He said that “increasingly, there are more sophisticated investors in this segment: it will be an important year for investment by private equity firms, Socimis and private individuals”.

Rebound effect

All of the speakers agreed that there has been a rebound effect in Spain after the investment drought. However, the co-founder of Elix, Jaime Lacasa, is concerned about the debt that is accompanying the investment operations. He thinks that “the banks’ models are too short-termist” and…he considers that many people are practically being forced to invest their money.

The CEO of Colonial, Pere Viñolas, also thinks that “the mistakes of the past will be repeated in the future: significant errors may already be happening in some deals in Spain”, he said. In Madrid, for example, “players are investing in office buildings on the outskirts, at very dubious prices. In general, in the prime areas, property values are now just 30% below the peaks reached in 2007 and the recovery in terms of rental income has not even started yet”.



Martínez-Laguna wanted to point out that the property (ownership) business should be distinguished from the property development business…Lacaso affirmed that in the development sector “the riskiest financing is to developers; if we solve that, then financing to end buyers is not risky”. He also called for “regulation of the development sector..”.

Bernardos thinks that “Spain will be fashionable for a few more years” and also that “the Catalan independence process will crush the office market in Barcelona”.

Original story: Expansión (by Marisa Anglés)

Translation by: Carmel Drake