Blackstone’s Spanish Hotel Portfolio is Worth €3.5bn

3 June 2019 – La Vanguardia

In recent years, the US fund Blackstone has invested €3.5 billion in the Spanish hotel sector through its specialist manager HI Partners, making it the largest hotel owner in Spain and the third largest in Europe after the Swedish firm Pandox and the French group Covivio.

HI Partners was created four years ago and owned 17 establishments by the time Blackstone acquired it in 2017 for €640 million. A year later, the US fund launched a successful takeover bid for the Socimi Hispania, which gave it control of another 45 hotels.

According to Alejandro Hernández-Puértolas, Partner and CEO of HI Partners, the firm now owns 62 establishments in Spain, with around 18,000 rooms. By region, 53% of its rooms are located in the Canary Islands, where it has 25 establishments, 26% are in the Balearic Islands (18 hotels) and the remaining 21% are located across the Peninsula above all in the Costa del Sol, Valencia and Cataluña.

HI Partners is headquartered in Barcelona and has offices in the Canary and Balearic Islands. It employs 100 professionals and its hotels are managed by 19 different operators including Marriott, Barceló, Hilton, Melià and Ritz Carlton.

Original story: La Vanguardia (by Rosa Salvador)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Azora Buys Hotel Pez Espada & Hotel Riviera in Málaga from Med Playa

9 May 2019 – Diario Sur

The Azora group has purchased the iconic Hotel Pez Espada in Torremolinos and Hotel Riviera in Benalmádena from Med Playa, as part of a larger operation involving seven establishments located in Benidorm and along the Costa del Sol.

In total, the investment group has added 1,670 rooms to its portfolio as a result of the transaction and it expects to invest €30 million in the repositioning of the seven hotels. The chain Med Playa will continue to manage all of the properties for a period of up to 35 years.

Hotel Pez Espada has 235 rooms, a 4-star rating and was refurbished by Playa Med as recently as 2017. It was inaugurated in May 1959 and was one of the first establishments to be built on the Costa del Sol at the start of the tourist boom. Its clientele included Ava Gardner, Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot, amongst others.

Meanwhile, Hotel Riviera, which is also a 4-star property, is located next to Puerto Marina, serves adults only and has a sauna, spa, restaurants, gym and solarium.

From this operation, it is clear that Azora is committed to investing in tourist destinations with assured success, such as the Costa del Sol and Benidorm. It is currently creating a new fund to invest in holiday hotels along the Mediterranean and in hostels in the main European tourist cities.

Original story: Diario Sur (by Pilar Martínez)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Deloitte: 173 New Hotels will Open in Spain Between Now and 2021

9 June 2018 – Expansión

The tourist boom and interest in the real estate sector have boosted the hotel segment. So far this year, operations amounting to €2.4 billion have been closed and an acceleration is forecast for the coming months.

Spanish hotels are standing out as one of the most sought-after assets for investors in the real estate market. The tourism boom in Spain, which recorded its fifth consecutive record year in 2017 with the arrival of 82 million international visitors, coupled with the property boom, caused hotel investment to reach maximums in 2017 of almost €3.1 billion. Moreover, the commitment from investors to these assets will allow that figure to double this year.

According to data from the Hotel Property Handbook, compiled by Deloitte, to which Expansión has had access, €3.1 billion was transacted in the segment last year, which represents an increase of 44% YoY and accounts for 22% of all the investment activity undertaken in Europe, placing Spain at the head of the investment ranking behind only the United Kingdom, which accounted for 29%.

During the first five months of this year, more than €2.4 billion has been invested, which will be added to operations currently under negotiation amounting to around €4.2 billion, which are expected to close over the coming months, according to the study.

“So far this year, we have transacted an investment volume almost as high as that signed during the whole of last year. The private equity funds are proving to be the main stars of the activity, which may even double the figure recorded in 2017”, said Javier García-Mateo, Partner at Deloitte Financial Advisory.

Loans

That is in addition to the strong appetite from traditional Spanish credit institutions to finance hotel properties, due to the momentum of the sector. Their financing spans projects under development, including remodellings, repositionings and developments. In this sense, the most active banks in terms of senior lines of credit for these assets are CaixaBank, Santander and Sabadell.

Investors are betting on mega-operations and the creation of large portfolios, which will allow them to have a diversified business and gain bargaining power over tour operators.

This trend comes in addition to the interest from Asian players in hoisting their flags in Spain. For example, the emergence of the Thai group Minor in NH Hotel Group, which has reached an agreement to purchase HNA’s stake in the Spanish hotel chain and is studying a takeover bid for 100% of the company.

In this context, the large hotel groups have taken advantage of the boom years to invest in improvements in their asset portfolios although there is still a long way to go. The opening and renovation of hotels consolidated itself in 2017, with activity involving 74 hotels and 12,500 rooms, reaching cruising speed following a significant recovery in 2015 and 2016, with projects in 120 hotels and almost 17,300 rooms.

Over the next five years, investment in work to adapt the hotel stock is expected to amount to €2.2 billion.

According to the report, 65% of the hotel stock in Spain is obsolete, with an average age of more than nine years, which makes investment in capex the main priority if operators are to handle the competitive pressures and achieve better margins.

“The strong growth in tourism in Spain contrasts with average rates that are still excessively low in the holiday segment. The renovation of obsolete projects, combined with the arrival of international operators, will allow the repositioning of an offer that ought to compete on quality rather than quantity”, explains Viviana Otero, from Deloitte Financial Advisory.

By region, the Canarian archipelago, Andalucía and the Balearic Islands are the regions that require the greatest capex spending, accounting for almost 68% of the total.

This effort has contributed to an improvement in the main performance ratios of hotels. According to Deloitte, revenues per available room (RevPAR), one of the main profitability indicators, grew by 10% last year.

New openings

The strong performance of the sector also accounts for the new promotions and project renovations underway. Over the next four years, 173 hotels are expected to be opened in Spain containing almost 30,000 rooms. “53% of those will be new projects and 47% will be renovations. It is worth highlighting the importance that rebranding is gaining as a defensive strategy against the alternative destinations of Greece, Turkey and Croatia, said Patricia Plana from Deloitte Financial Advisory.

In terms of challenges facing the sector, the report highlights the saturation of certain destinations in the summer and the problems of co-existence alongside local residents in those regions, as well as the recovery of competitor countries in Southern Europe and the rise of holiday rentals boosted by collaborative economy platforms such as Airbnb.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Merlin Earned €1.1bn in 2017 & Will Pay A Complementary Dividend

28 February 2018 – Expansión

The Socimi in which Santander and BBVA hold stakes doubled its earnings last year to €1.1 billion, compared with €582.6 million the previous year.

The Socimi Merlin Properties closed 2017 with revenues of €484.3 million, up by 34% compared to the previous year. Of that figure, €469.4 million stemmed from gross rental income.

Operating profits grew by 49% to €1.215 billion, whilst recurring EBITDA reached €396.6 million, up by 29% compared to 2016.

At the end of the year, the company owned a portfolio worth €11.254 billion, up by 15% compared to the previous year and 10% larger in terms of comparable surface area. Of that figure, €5.219 billion corresponds to its office portfolio, the value of which grew by 4.1% like for like.

At the end of the year, Merlin had gross financial debt amounting to €5.413 billion, placing its level of indebtedness (LTV) at 43.6%, compared with 45.5% a year ago. The CEO of Merlin, Ismael Clemente, said that he was satisfied with that reduction and assured that his firm would continue working to reduce the liability (…).

For this year, the company has set itself the objective of repositioning its assets, such as the case of Torre Gloriès (Barcelona), whose marketing is forecast to begin during the first half of the year. In the case of new acquisitions, the directors of Merlin indicated that they are going to be “very selective” in their purchases, with the focus placed primarily on Portugal and logistics assets.

Complementary dividend

The real estate investment company has announced an increase in its complementary dividend, payable in May, of 26 cents per share, which will be added to the 20 cents already allocated to the account. In total, shareholder remuneration for this year is going to grow by 15% to reach 46 cents, compared with the 40 cents disbursed in the previous year.

Merlin revealed that for the year ahead, corresponding to the accounts for 2018, it is going to distribute a minimum of €235 million amongst its shareholders, a disbursement that it will pay in full in cash, which will correspond to more than €0.50 per share. This remuneration will be distributed partly as a dividend and partly as a refund of the share premium.

Executive salaries

The real estate company in which Santander and BBVA hold stakes also published the salaries of its main executives. In this way, it was revealed that the CEO, Ismael Clemente, was paid €2.557 million last year, compared to €2.155 million in 2016. Of that figure, €1 million corresponds to his salary, whilst €1.55 million corresponds to his bonus.

Meanwhile, Miguel Ollero, also CEO of Merlin Properties, was paid €2.5 million in 2017, compared to €2.1 million the previous year; meanwhile, the directors Rodrigo Echenique, Francisco Javier García-Carranza and Agustín Vidal did not receive any remuneration whatsoever for their roles on the Socimi’s Board of Directors.

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Splendom Suites Opens More Luxury Apartments in Madrid

25 January 2018 – Expansión

Splendom Suites – a group specialising in the management of luxury tourist establishments – has opened a new high-end apartment building in the centre of the Spanish capital and is looking for new opportunities to grow in Spain through the purchase, management and rental of hotel accommodation in the country.

Splendom Suites, which was created more than a decade ago with its first property in Barcelona, has just opened a new establishment in Madrid, 450 m from Puerta del Sol. Specifically, 11th Príncipe by Splendom Suites is located at number 11 Calle de Príncipe.

The new apartment complex is located in a building that dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. It has a surface area of 1,700 m2, spread over six floors and houses 36 family apartments of varying formats containing 124 beds in total.

The company has invested €900,000 in the repositioning of this property – owned by four individual shareholders – including the refurbishment of the façade.

Plans

The group, which ended last year with turnover of €3 million, forecasts revenues of €5 million in 2018.

“We are in the middle of a growth phase. We are looking for buildings that fit with our business model in Madrid and Barcelona, where we already have a presence, and in other tourist capitals like Málaga, for example”, explains Santiago Torras, co-founder and director of the group.

Hotel services

Currently, the company manages three luxury tourist apartment buildings in Barcelona and Madrid. All of its accommodation options offer hotel services. Specifically, Splendom Suites opened Grandom Suites in Barcelona in 2006. That establishment contains 45 beds and is located in Plaza del Doctor Letamendi.

The firm arrived in Madrid in 2013, with Splendom Suites Gran Vía. That property has 94 beds and is located at number 5 Calle San Onofre.

Original story: Expansión (by R. Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Irea: What Led to Last Year’s Record Inv’t in Spain’s Hotel Sector?

12 January 2018 – Hosteltur

Last year saw investment in the Spanish hotel sector break all records, with investors spending €3.907 billion on transactions involving existing hotels, properties for conversion into hotels and land for the construction of hotels. That figure represents an increase of almost 80% with respect to 2016, according to Miguel Vázquez, Managing Partner of the Hotels Division at Irea; and was the result of the sale of 182 establishments comprising 28,813 rooms, with an average price per room of €119,000, compared with an average price per room of €92,000 in 2016 and of €85,000 in 2015, which represents an increase of 40% in just two years (…).

According to the Irea Director, this investment boom was driven “not only by the greater number of operations but also by the fact that the prices of the assets sold were higher as they were coming onto the market after being repositioned in recent years. The types of investors have also changed, as have their demands in terms of returns: around 5-6% in the urban segment and around 6-7% in the holiday segment, given that we are no longer seeing as many opportunistic funds entering the market (…)”.

In fact, he has quantified that “more than 2,000 holiday hotels still need to be renovated and repositioned. There is a wide range of opportunities that the funds are focusing on, in search of agreements with small chains at times of generational changes and when they are interested in selling…or not, because the strong buyer pressure is continuing to motivate owners who are not typically sellers to put their assets on the market, especially independent operators. And that is leading to the entry into the market of large holiday hotel portfolios, which is what investors are backing Spain for, as well as independent hotels”.

Forecasts for 2018

And after “the stratospheric data of 2017”, in the words of Vázquez, “the inertia with respect to 2018 is very positive, the year is starting off very well”, although he thinks that hotel investment will moderate and “the effect of the uncertainty in Cataluña will make it very difficult for us to see a repeat of last year’s figures”.

Nevertheless, he cites three operations that should be resolved during the first few months of this year: the completion of the purchase of the Alua portfolio by Hispania (…); the sale of a portion of the Ayre hotel portfolio, which is currently on the market; and the launch of a hotel Socimi by a financial entity with 15 establishments, which could take place soon.

Vázquez estimates that the investments already committed for the first few months of the year identified by Irea amount to €4 billion, comprising mainly new build projects, taking advantage of the increase recorded in the purchase of land for the construction of hotels, with operations in Bilbao, San Sebastián, the south of Tenerife, Barcelona and Sevilla.

In terms of the strengths in the market, besides the repositioning of hotels that is leading to an improvement in competitiveness and the appeal of Spain as a destination, the Director highlighted “the magnet effect of qualified investors such as Blackstone, which are reinforcing Spain as a destination for hotel investment” (…).

Weaknesses: overheating

Vázquez highlighted the overheating of prices that is happening in destinations such as the Canary Islands, where the average (sales) price per room has increased to €152,000, compared to the national average of €119,000, although, it should also be taken into account that “the operation that carried the most weight in terms of those figures was Sabadell’s sale of HI Partners to Blackstone (…), involving high quality, repositioned hotels, which increased prices”.

In fact, the most expensive prices were recorded in Barcelona and Madrid, which holds the record for the sale of the most expensive room with Operación Canalejas, for approximately €1.4 million, whereby exceeding the figure of €1.2 million recorded during the sale of Hotel Villa Magna (…).

In the Balearic Islands, as the director acknowledges, “there is still more margin because there are a lot of hotels there that still need repositioning and, although there is price inflation, it is not as marked as in the Canary Islands, which benefit from having year-round demand and five years of high occupancy rates, which drives up prices”.

Original story: Hosteltur

Translation: Carmel Drake

Blackstone Negotiates Purchase of Grupo Alua’s Hotels

18 December 2017 – Expansión

The US investment fund Blackstone wants to strengthen its position in the hotel segment in Spain. After acquiring Sabadell’s hotel portfolio in October for €630 million, Blackstone is now analysing the acquisition of the hotel portfolio owned by Alua Hotels & Resorts to strengthen its presence in the market.

Sources in the sector explain to Expansión that the US fund has been negotiating with the owners of Alua for several months regarding the operation and, although it is not the only player bidding for its portfolio, it is one of the best positioned to close the deal. The portfolio owned by Alua Hotels & Resorts currently includes seven hotels with more than 1,700 rooms located in different parts of the Balearic and Canary Islands.

Specifically, Alua owns four establishments in Palma de Mallorca: the AlauSoul Palma, with 120 rooms; the AluaSoul Mallorca Resort, with 371 rooms; the AluaSoul Alcudia Bay, with 171 rooms; and the AluaSun Torrenova, with 256 rooms.

Management agreement

In addition, it owns the AluaSoul (in Ibiza), with 290 rooms; the Hotel Parque San Antonio (in Tenerife), with 252 rooms; and the Hotel Ambar Beach, (in Fuerteventura) with 244 rooms.

Alua Hotels & Resorts –previously known as Feel Hotels Group– was created in 2015, inspired by the European private equity firm Alchemy Special Opportunities and by Javier Águila, former Director of Orizonia, following the purchase of six hotels, with more than 1,200 rooms, in Mallorca and Ibiza. The portfolio used to be owned by Marina Hotels (…).

Moreover, Alua Hotels & Resorts manages five Intertur Hotels acquired in May 2017 by KKR and Dunas Capital. Those establishments, which comprise 1,120 rooms in Mallorca and Ibiza, were worth just over €120 million.

The agreement reached between KKR, Dunas Capital and Alua Hotels & Resorts considered the repositioning and modernisation of the five establishments and the management of the hotels by Alua following the entry into force of the agreement and their marketing under its brand in 2018.

Alua Hotels & Resorts, which last year recorded turnover of €28 million, has more than 1,200 employees.

Record investment

The tourism boom in Spain, the appetite for real estate and the liquidity in the market are continuing to encourage hotel investment, which may reach €3 billion by the end of the year; that would represent a new record for this segment (…).

Moreover, if these negotiations prove successful, the operation would allow Blackstone to shore up its position in Spain. The US fund has become one of the stars of the real estate sector this year, having closed some of the most high-profile transactions in recent months (…).

Of the (14) hotels that Blackstone purchased from Sabadell, six are located in the Canary Islands (two in Tenerife and four in Gran Canaria) and the rest are located in Cataluña (in Sitges and Roses), the Community of Valencia (in Benidorm and Valencia), Málaga (two) and another two in Mallorca and Madrid (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sale of Hesperia Tower Threatened by Catalan Political Uncertainty

27 November 2017 – Eje Prime

The political situation in Cataluña is also affecting the sale of tall buildings, such as that of the NH Collection Tower in Barcelona. Known until last year as the Hesperia Tower, this five-star hotel owned by Grupo Inversor Hesperia (Gihsa) is struggling to find a new owner due to the governmental instability and, therefore, economic uncertainty that exists in the region.

Located in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, the asset is situated next to the Fira complex in the suburban town and has been on the market since December 2010. The Hesperia Group put this hotel, along with five others, on the market, due to the debt that was weighing down the company at the time, estimated to amount to more than €600 million.

Now, the interested companies are not willing to go ahead with the purchase of the asset due to the political situation in Cataluña, amongst other factors, according to Crónica Global.

A year ago, the hotel company repositioned Hesperia Tower within a plan agreed with NH Hoteles, which took over the management of 31 assets from the entity led by José Antonio Castro after paying €31 million. Hesperia’s current portfolio contains around thirty hotels in Spain, as well as a 9% stake in the NH hotel Group.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Socimi Bay Hotels & Resort’s Profits Rose By 87% In H1 To €102M

31 October 2017 – Alimarket

Bay Hotels & Resorts, the hotel Socimi created by Hispania and Grupo Barceló, has presented its results for the first half of 2017, which reveal that the Socimi increased its profits by 87% during the period to €102 million, with respect to June 2016. In turn, its revenues from the rental of hotels and shopping centres rose by 26.5% to €38 million. On the investment side, Bay spent €18.8 million to improve and reposition its portfolio during the first six months of 2017. The bulk of that investment was spent on the renovation of the Balearic hotel ‘Barceló Paradise Portinatx’ – acquired by Hispania for €11 million this year – and the Canary Island hotels ‘Barceló Teguise’ and ‘Occidental Jandía Mar’, amounting to €7.6 million, €3.6 million and €775,000, respectively.

Bay’s recent operations include the purchase of all of the shares in Armadores de Puerto Rico for €6.2 million on 28 June 2017. That entity owns land in Lanzarote, on which Bay plans to construct a luxury hotel with 225 rooms. Its plots are located adjacent to the ‘Occidental Lanzarote Playa’ (372 rooms) and ‘Occidental Lanzarote Mar’ (436 rooms) complexes, which Bay Hotels also owns. The objective of the Socimi is to create a luxury mega-complex in this tourist area, with 1,033 rooms in total. That same month, the Socimi also completed its purchase of the Balearic hotel ‘Fergus Tobago’ in Palmanova (Mallorca) for €20.5 million, and the Benidorm hotel ‘Selomar’ for €16 million. Looking ahead to future investments, the group held real estate investment commitments amounting to €19.4 million as at 30 June 2017.

Meanwhile, on 1 June 2017, Bay signed a liquidity contract with the entity GVC Gaesco Beka, S.V., with the aim of favouring the liquidity of its transactions and the uniformity of its share price. Overall, the Socimi held 406,450 own shares as at 30 June 2017, with a total value amounting to €2.15 million. At the end of the first half of the year, Hispania recorded a gross asset value of €931 million, which resulted in the recognition of a €73 million gain for asset appreciation in the income statement (…).

Following the various corporate operations, Hispania and Grupo Barcelona own 76% and 24% of the Socimi, respectively. The representative shares in Bay Hotels & Leisure Socimi have been trading on the Alternative Investment Market since 24 July 2017.

Original story: Alimarket

Translation: Carmel Drake