Acciona Sells its Stake in Testa to Blackstone for €379M

8 October 2018 – Eje Prime

Blackstone is continuing to increase its stake in Testa. After acquiring the majority of the company in September, by purchasing the shares owned by Merlin, BBVA and Santander, now the US fund is buying the 20% stake that Acciona owns in the rental home Socimi for €379 million, according to a statement filed by the company with Spain’s National Securities and Exchange Commission (CNMV).

The closure of the operation, which has not been formalised yet, is conditional upon the completion of the sale of 50.01% of Testa’s share capital, which Blackstone agreed with Merlin, BBVA and Santander for €948 million. The fund will pay the real estate arm of Acciona €14.32 for each share that it owns in the Socimi, whereby assigning the company a total value of €1.895 billion.

Testa, which has been listed on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB) since July, owns a portfolio of assets containing more than 10,700 homes, which gave the company a market capitalisation of €1.833 billion on the day that it made its stock market debut.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Blackstone Will Pay Merlin, Santander & BBVA €948M for 50.01% of Testa

18 September 2018 – Cinco Días

Another major movement in the real estate sector and with the same star as the buyer: the US giant Blackstone. After acquiring the Socimi Hispania, which specialises in hotels, the fund has now set its sights on Testa, the largest owner of rental housing in Spain.

Blackstone has already agreed to purchase 50.01% of the Socimi (…) from three of Testa’s largest shareholders (Merlin Properties, Santander and BBVA), according to a statement filed by the real estate company with the Alternative Investment Market (MAB) on Monday. Nevertheless, Acciona, the other major shareholder, has not sold its stake. The US fund manager is carrying out the operation through the company Tropic Real Estate Holding and is paying €948 million, whereby valuing Testa at €1.895 billion.

Blackstone is paying €14.327 per share. The company’s closing price at the end of trading on Friday was €14, representing a premium of just over 2%.

Blackstone is keeping the offer open for the other shareholders. In fact, the document sent to the exchange by Testa explains that the bidder “has committed to buying all of the remaining shares in the company” under the same conditions.

Testa’s shareholders regard this operation as an exit following their failure to launch a major IPO in June, when the political uncertainty, above all surrounding Italy, caused a surge in the markets. The intention of Merlin, Santander and BBVA (and to a lesser extent Acciona, which wanted to remain as an industrial partner) was to divest their stakes with that great stock market debut. Now they have found an escape route with Blackstone as the buyer.

Merlin also reported on Monday that with this operation, it will raise €321.2 million in exchange for its 16.95% stake in Testa. The funds obtained by Merlin will be used to reduce its debt in line with the objectives set out in the company’s business plan.

BBVA, which owned 25.24% of Testa has also sold all of its shares. Meanwhile, Santander sold just 7.82% of the 36.87% that it held in Testa, which made possible the operation that has given Blackstone control over the entity.

The new Testa Residencial is a listed real estate investment company promoted in 2016 by the banks and Merlin. The latter company had been left with homes following its purchase of the former Testa from Sacyr in 2015; meanwhile, Santander and BBVA contributed rental homes from the property developer Metrovacesa. Finally, last year, Acciona incorporated more than 1,000 homes, worth €340 million, to close the current alliance between the four shareholders.

Testa is currently the market leader in the residential rental sector in Spain. It has a portfolio of 10,615 units, worth €2.675 billion, mainly private housing, with annualised gross rental income of €85 million and an occupancy rate of 91.4%.

Original story: Cinco Días 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Investors Increase their Commitment to Rental Housing

3 May 2018 – Expansión

The boom in the residential market, the changing habits in society, the difficulties involved in accessing housing and the increase in mobility have all led to a rebound in the residential rental market in Spain. According to the latest data from Eurostat, more than 22% of Spanish households live in rented properties, although that figure is still well behind the average for the European Union (34%).

In addition, the State Housing Plan, which seeks to encourage rental amongst the younger generation, and the greater professionalisation of the sector, is going to serve to further boost the rental market in Spain.

The change in trend, as well as the increase in residential rental yields, has compelled investors to analyse this business as an alternative to other real estate assets such as offices, shopping centres and hotels.

To lead this market, certain players have redoubled their commitment to rental housing, such as the case of Testa Residencial – the Socimi in which Santander, BBVA, Acciona and Merlin hold stakes – which owns almost 9,300 residential rental properties, with a gross value of €2.275 billion and annual rental income of €72.2 million.

Stock market debuts

That Socimi is preparing its leap onto the market, which will be carried out through an offer of its existing shares (OPV) and an issue of new shares (OPS) aimed exclusively at qualified investors.

One of the first players to back this business was Blackstone, which purchased 18 residential developments, containing 1,860 homes in total, in the Madrilenian neighbourhoods of Carabanchel, Centro, Villa de Vallecas and Villaverde from the Municipal Housing and Land Company of Madrid (EMVS) in July 2013. In 2015, the fund debuted its Socimi Fidere on the MAB (Alternative Investment Market) with 2,688 social housing properties, including those acquired from the EMVS two years earlier. Currently, Fidere owns around 6,400 homes for rent.

The fund also debuted Albirana on the MAB in March 2017 with a portfolio of 5,000 rental homes proceeding from Catalunya Banc loans. Another star of the real estate sector that has detected an opportunity in the rental sector to offload its assets is the Company for the Management of Assets proceeding from the Restructuring of the Banking System (Sareb) with Témpore Properties. That Socimi debuted on the MAB in April with a portfolio of 1,553 residential units, which have a gross value of €175 million.

Another player is Vivenio Residencial, the investment vehicle created by the Dutch pension fund APG together with Renta Corporación. Vivenio has invested around €200 million in the purchase of properties and now owns more than 1,000 rental homes. The Socimi plans to debut on the stock market in 2019.

According to data from Armabex, in 2017, five new Socimis debuted on the stock market with residential assets in their portfolio. In total, at the end of last year, 16 Socimis held rental homes in their portfolios, including, in addition to Fidere and Albirana, Vitruvio, VBare, Colón Vivienda and Domo.

In addition to the listed Socimis, other players in the sector include the real estate managers. One of the largest by volume of assets under management is Anticipa Real Estate, owned by Blackstone. Anticipa currently manages 12,000 homes proceeding from banks acquired by the fund during the crisis. Anticipa manages Albirana’s homes, amongst others.

Another star in the rental home manager sector in Spain is Azzam Vivienda – a subsidiary of Azora – which has more than 11,000 homes under management distributed across 140 buildings.

Azora, which will make its debut on the Madrid stock market on 11 May, plans to raise up to €500 million from its stock market debut to co-invest with its partners in various assets, including in the residential sector.

New players

The company founded by Concha Osácar and Fernando Gumuzio in 2003, was managing €1.5 billion in residential assets at the end of last year, which represented 33.4% of its total portfolio. It plans to increase its footprint in the sector to have between €1.3 billion and €1.6 billion under management by 2022 in homes, accommodation for the elderly and assets relating to healthcare.

Despite the increasing prominence of the rental sector, the business is still very fragmented and one of the challenges for the sector is to gain scale in order to compete. Juan Manuel Acosta, CEO of Greystar in Spain, said in an interview with Expansión in February that the US real estate investment firm is looking for opportunities to become one of the largest operators in the residential rental market in Spain.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Meridia Capital To Launch A Fund Specialising In Rental Housing

9 November 2017 – Eje Prime

Meridia Capital is taking another step forward in its real estate adventure. The company, founded and chaired by Javier Faus (pictured below, far right), is considering entering the residential rental business. To this end, the group has already negotiated the cost of capital and returns required to raise a new fund, as the director explained on Tuesday at the Economy Circle in Barcelona.

The fund will be aimed at institutional investors who work regularly with the investment fund, according to Crónica Global. The businessman acknowledges that it will be a tough market to enter, but he considers that it is “basic” for the future of this type of real estate vehicle.

At the same meeting, Pere Viñolas (pictured above, second from left), CEO at Colonial, said that the entry of listed real estate companies into the rental housing market in countries such as Germany has boosted the sector and helped to adjust prices.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake