Hispania Completes Its Socimi-Conversion Process

21 June 2016 – El Mundo

Hispania, in which George Soros holds a stake, has completed its conversion into a Socimi by merging with one of its subsidiaries, which was already operating under that company structure.

The firm has concluded this internal reorganisation just days after it completed a €230 million capital increase, which it undertook to raise funds to finance new investments.

Hispania has completed its conversion into a Socimi, a decision approved at its last General Shareholders’ Meeting, by signing a public deed that officially merges the two companies in the Commercial Registry, according to a statement to Spain’s National Securities and Exchange Commission (CNMV).

Until now, the company was a listed real estate company; and one of its subsidiaries operated under the Socimi structure and carried out the majority of its operations. Thus, with this operation, Hispania has reorganised its company structure by integrating several subsidiary companies and converting its parent company into a Socimi. The merger will take effect from 2017 for accounting purposes.

Investments

After completing these two operations, the Socimi plans to invest around €400 million over the next “nine or ten months” in new assets to grow its real estate portfolio. It acquired several hotel assets a few days ago.

Nevertheless, Hispania is ruling out buying any new homes for rent, given the narrow profit margin that it considers those assets offer in comparison with others. As such, the company will place its focus on the office and hotel markets.

Residential properties already account for around 12% of Hispania’s existing real estate portfolio, which was valued at €1,463 million at the end of last year.

Original story: El Mundo

Translation: Carmel Drake

Political Uncertainty Deters Real Estate Investment

31 May 2016 – Expansión

The political uncertainty in Spain is hanging over the real estate sector, which, despite continuing to be active, is not shining with the same splendour that it did in 2015. Specifically, real estate investment during the first quarter of the year exceeded €2,100 million, which represents a 25% decrease with respect to 2015, according to data from CBRE.

The segment most affected by this slowdown was offices, where investment declined by 70% during the first three months of the year, to €180 million. Meanwhile, investment in retail amounted to around €770 million, almost 45% less. By contrast, investment in the logistics sector amounted to €200 million, compared with €80 million in the same period a year earlier. In other sectors – residential and hotels – investment amounted to more than €1,000 million, compared with €885 million during Q1 2015.

Pedro Lacambra, manager at Ibercaja Gestión, explained that the Spanish real estate market is showing signs of a slowdown, which is accentuated in certain business segments, such as offices. The expert said that Socimis account for 40% of all investment in offices, and that they are having to raise new funds to grow and invest in assets. Moreover, he said that the office business requires greater demand for space from existing companies, as well as the appearance of new companies and multinationals arriving in Spain. For Lacambra, the current panorama of political uncertainty does not encourage any of these scenarios.

Meanwhile, Daniel Pingarrón, market strategist at IG, considers that the political uncertainty is weighing down more on the Socimis and real estate companies than on players in other sectors. “ The stock exchanges and financial markets are more globalised and depend a lot less on politics and local factors. By contrast, the real estate sector is more sensitive, as we have seen with Operación Chamartín and Operación Campamento”.

In this sense, the analyst thinks that some investors are waiting for the uncertainty surrounding the formation of the future Government to be resolved before entering Spain.

Taxation of the Socimis

The analyst at Selfbank, Victoria Torres, explains that the political uncertainty that currently exists in Spain is one of the factors that is significantly affecting the real estate sector, which is very sensitive to the legislation in force. “There is a fear that a change in Government could increase the tax charges for Socimis. For that reason, we are not seeing any massive sales, but rather defensive moves to reduce positions until after the General Election”, explains Torres.

Torres thinks that these companies are helping to boost a depressed sector thanks to the tax benefits that they enjoy, amongst other reasons. Socimis pay Corporation Tax at a special rate of 0%, receive a 95% rebate on Stamp Duty (AJD) and Property Transfer Tax (ITP) on capital gains, and do not retain the dividends distributed to their shareholders, which include both individuals and corporations.

For Torres, the new concerns over the sector come at a key moment for the firms, especially Hispania, which is preparing a €231 million capital increase. (…).

Gonzalo Sánchez, analyst at Gesconsult, shares the same view. For him a more or less similar Government would benefit these companies. “Behind the Socimis are overseas investors, who want to have their money where they can see it and to avoid the chance of any nasty surprises”, he added. (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Lar España Evaluates €200M Capital Increase

18 June 2015 – Europa Press

Lar España is analysing the possibility of increasing its share capital this year to take advantage of the “new opportunities” for investment in the real estate sector that it has identified.

The capital increase would amount to a maximum of €200 million, since the Socimi has been authorised by its shareholders to increase its capital by up to 50% of its current level, according to reports filed with Spain’s National Securities Market Commission (CNMV).

Lar España is evaluating whether to raise further capital after its recent bond issue (€140 million) in February, which it also undertook to raise funds to invest in the real estate sector.

With this latest increase, the company will join many of the other Socimis constituted last year, such as Hispania, Merlin and Axiare, which have also resorted to capital increases to raise funds with which to purchase new real estate assets to grow their portfolios.

In the case of Lar, the company claims to have identified “new investment opportunities”, which have led its board of directors to “launch a process to analyse the possibility of undertaking a capital increase in 2015”.

Nevertheless, the Socimi says that, the final operation “will be subject to changes in market conditions”.

Since its constitution and IPO in early 2014, Lar has purchased assets worth around €550 million, including seven shopping centres in several regions, four office buildings in Madrid, eleven logistics warehouses, three medium-sized retail premises and a residential building in Madrid.

Original story: Europa Press

Translation: Carmel Drake