BNP Paribas Prepares to Enter Spain’s Property Development Sector

13 November 2018 – Eje Prime

BNP Paribas Real Estate already has the foundations in place to begin its activity in real estate development in Spain. The French group, which has extensive experience in this area, is preparing its structure in the domestic market to be able to increase a portfolio comprising more than 100,000 m2 of offices and more than 3,000 homes located all over Europe.

The first step taken by the company in this sense was carried out in July, when it simplified its corporate structure in Spain, as revealed by Eje Prime. At that time, the group dissolved its consultancy company (BNP Paribas Real Estate Advisory Spain) and transferred its assets and liabilities to its sister property company (BNP Paribas Real Estate Property Management Spain).

After that modification, the real estate area of the French consultancy firm had two companies in Spain: the property company and the investment company (BNP Paribas Real Estate Investment Management Spain).

The group’s Director of Development, Thomas Charvet, said in France yesterday that the real estate company is going to “accelerate” the development of assets in Europe. And Spain, undoubtedly, is one of the most mature markets in the continent in the development of office buildings and residential properties. Nevertheless, sources at BNP Paribas Real Estate España indicate that “the company has no intention of starting that activity soon”.

With experience spanning more than 40 years in property development, BNP Paribas Real Estate has constructed everything ranging from new build projects, to residences with special services to “the development of new neighbourhoods”, according to its website in France (…).

Presence in half of Europe

Spain is one of the few leading companies in Europe where BNP Paribas Real Estate has not undertaken any real estate development, yet. As well as France, the company also has a presence in Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Portugal and Luxembourg (…).

New faces for the new roadmap in Spain

All of the internal changes that BNP Paribas Real Estate has carried out in Spain in recent months have a common denominator: the recruitment of Frédéric Mangeant as the new CEO at the beginning of the year. The real estate firm has made several new hires since then to lead its different areas. Between May and June, Mangeant recruited five experienced executives in the real estate sector to lead the various lines of business that the consultancy firm operates in the real estate sector (…).

A giant with 33,500 homes under management in Europe

Spain could become another major market for the real estate arm of BNP Paribas. Taking advantage of the boom in the economy and, therefore, in the domestic real estate market, the French bank will put its efforts into growing in the country through its different lines of business.

BNP Paribas Real Estate is a giant in the sector, with more than 33,500 homes under management in Europe and 30.6 million m2 of real estate assets under management for third-party companies in Europe.

Original story: Eje Prime (by J. Izquierdo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Apollo, CPPIB & ADIA Are Open to Offers for Altamira

12 July 2018 – Voz Pópuli

The ownership of the real estate company Altamira may change hands over the coming months. The company controlled by the fund Apollo has hung up the “For Sale” sign after the refinancing and restructuring of its contract with Santander, signed just a few days ago, according to financial sources consulted by Voz Pópuli.

At least 85% of the real estate firm will go on the market. The servicer currently manages assets worth €54 billion. The US fund Apollo is the entity that controls the majority stake, whilst its ownership is shared equally with two other partners: the largest Canadian fund, CPPIB (Canada Pension Plan Investment Board); and the main Abu Dhabi investment fund, the ADIA (Abu Dhabi Investment Authority) sovereign fund.

Each of them controls 28.3% of Altamira, just like Apollo, although it is the latter who leads the real estate company and chairs its Board.

Divestment

After four and a half years of investment, the main shareholders have decided that now is the right time to sell, given the strong performance of the real estate market and the appetite from large investors to enter the business.

In fact, sources consulted indicate that several international and Spanish investors have already approached Altamira. One of the candidates is Haya Real Estate, a similar platform, owned by Cerberus, which is interested in growing its business ahead of a potential stock market debut.

Another possibility being rumoured in the market is that CPPIB itself may purchase the 56% stake in Altamira currently owned by Apollo and the Abu Dhabi sovereign fund. The Canadian fund entered the market for the acquisition of toxic asset portfolios from the banks last year with a bang, by closing an operation with Sabadell; and this year, it has signed another deal with BBVA.

The possible sale of Altamira comes after the refinancing of the real estate firm agreed with the banks and the renegotiation of the contract with Santander. Thanks to this operation, the shareholders of Altamira are now going to share out a €200 million dividend, according to El Confidencial, which means that the numbers already add up for the funds.

The relationship between Apollo and Santander

Apollo and its two partners already tried to exit Altamira two years ago but failed to reach an agreement with Santander, which made a low offer that was not accepted. Since then, the real estate firm has pushed ahead with its own internationalisation by branching out into Portugal and Cyprus.

Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Santander Cuts the Cost of its Agreement with Altamira in Exchange for Paying Apollo €200M Now

10 July 2018 – El Confidencial

A new twist in the relationship between Santander and Apollo. The Spanish entity and the US fund have restructured the contract that they signed four years ago, when the former sold 85% of Altamira to the latter. As such, they have laid the foundations that will allow for the refinancing of the debt of their shared subsidiary, which specialises in real estate services.

Specifically, the new agreement involves a significant reduction in the commissions that Altamira will charge the bank, in exchange for which Santander will pay Apollo €200 million now. Moreover, a series of agreements made between the two parties means that Apollo will receive another €70 million, according to confirmation from several sources in the know.

Thanks to the cash injection that the reduction in commissions brings, Altamira has improved the conditions of its €270 million syndicated loan that it has signed with Santander, Bankinter, Bankia, Sabadell, Crédit Agricole and Mediobanca. That liability has seen its term improve by two years, to 2023, but without the repayment of the principal, given that Apollo’s aim with all of these changes (the new management contract and the new debt conditions) is to be able to distribute a juicy dividend.

Specifically, according to the sources consulted, the fund wants to take advantage of the new liquidity injection to distribute remuneration of around €200 million. In fact, Altamira’s total financial commitments, which exceed €320 million, will remain the same and will not decrease following all of this restructuring.

It was in January 2014 when Banco Santander closed the sale of 85% of Altamira to Apollo for €664 million, in an operation that included a management contract for the bank’s real estate assets until 2028. That term will be maintained following the new restructuring of the agreement.

Since then, the relationship between the two partners has gone through various phases, which have included an attempt by the bank to buy back 100% of the platform, although that deal never came to fruition for price reasons, and the acceleration made by Santander to rapidly divest all of its property (…).

One strategy, which has involved the transfer of assets to Metrovacesa and Testa, the creation of a joint vehicle with Blackstone, baptised Quasar, to provide an exit for €30 billion in toxic assets and, now, the sales process involving €5 billion in residential and tertiary assets that has been entrusted to Credit Suisse.

This operation forms part of the horizon that the bank defined last year, when it completed Quasar and announced that it was giving itself until the end of 2018 to reduce its exposure to property to an “immaterial” level, in the words of the bank’s own CEO, José Antonio Álvarez.

Nevertheless, this desire to reduce the real estate exposure to zero will have a direct impact on Altamira, given that the portfolio now up for sale accounts for the bulk of Santander’s assets, which are still managed by the servicer.

Historically, Altamira’s two main clients have been Sareb, which awarded it the contract to manage €29 billion in assets and property developer loans, and Santander, a base Apollo has been expanding by signing agreements with other entities, such as BBVA, which has entrusted it with a €200 million loan portfolio, and Bain Capital, which has engaged it to manage the €600 million portfolio that it purchased from Liberbank.

In addition, the servicer has committed to expanding internationally to grow in size, a strategy that has already seen it take over €10 billion of assets under management in Portugal and Cyprus, the first two markets into which Altamira has made the leap.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Realia Starts Building Homes with the Launch of 5 Developments

1 July 2018 – Expansión

The real estate company controlled by Carlos Slim has resumed its property development business with the launch of five new promotions, comprising 594 homes that, when they are handed over, will generate revenues of €208 million.

Realia is planning to continue to launch new developments on the portfolio of land that it owns, but it is also investing in new plots, such as the one it purchased recently from the Ministry of Defence in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) for €27.5 million.

This is the first acquisition of land that the company made since the Mexcian magnate took control, which saw it join the wave of investments that companies in this area are undertaking in the land segment in light of the reactivation of the sector.

Nevertheless, after Realia stopped building homes at the beginning of the crisis, it now has a land portfolio spanning 1.85 million m2. The company says that it now has some of these plots under development in Madrid, Cataluña and Levante, areas that currently account for the greatest demand in terms of housing.

The real estate company includes the launch of new developments as a key strategy in the new phase that it is undertaking following the clean-up carried out since Slim acquired his share capital

This week, at its General Shareholders’ Meeting, Realia said that it is “ready” for the new real estate cycle, following the reduction and restructuring of its debt and the cutback in expenses, measures that it considers “are already reflected in the income statement”.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Paraguayan Magnate Buys Luxury Development on c/General Oráa 9

8 April 2018 – El Confidencial

A new Latin American investor has entered Spain’s luxury residential market. The person in question is Carlos Gill Ramírez, a businessman who was born in Paraguay and who also has Venezuelan citizenship. He has just purchased the high-end development at c/General Oráa 9 in Madrid from Platinum Estates, according to sources.

This sale is the first divestment that the Asian fund has carried out in Spain and forms part of the asset rotation policy that it has launched for its first Spanish fund, to focus on raising and investing €500 million in its new vehicle.

For Gill, this acquisition represents the first step in his growth plans in the country, where he has constituted the company Sari Holdco with a view to continuing to star in operations that will allow him to create his own real estate empire. Uría has represented the Latin American businessman in the purchase of General Oráa and Garrigues has represented Platinum, whilst Engel & Volkers has acted as the advisor.

Having obtained all of the necessary authorisations from the Town Hall of Madrid, construction of this luxury development is almost 70% complete. It will allow the transformation of this building, dating back to 1926, into 10 high-end homes, measuring between 348 m2 and 409 m2 each, plus two penthouses measuring 500 m2, with 250 m2 dedicated to a solarium and private swimming pool. The sales prices range between €3.6 million and €10 million per home.

Since Platinum acquired this development from the Catalan firm Renta, four years ago, it has always been said that it would be aimed at Latin American buyers interesting in owning a home in the Salamanca neighbourhood. Nevertheless, nobody imagined that a businessman from the other side of the Atlantic would also end up taking over the entire project, with the objective of finishing the construction work and putting it on the market.

Industrial wealth

Born in Paraguay, in July 1956, aged just six, Carlos Gill moved with his family to Venezuela, where he ended up being an honorary counsel for his native country. After studying Dentistry at the Central University of Venezuela, the businessman participated in important restructurings such as those of Banco Unión, Mercedes-Benz Venezuela, Grupo Corimón, Banco Capital, Banco Canarias de Venezuela and Bancentro Banco Comercial.

He is currently the President of Grupo Corimón, a Venezuelan corporation that operates in the paint, chemical product and flexible packaging sectors. The firm claims to be the largest conglomerate of its kind on the entire sub-continent and its shares are listed on the Caracas Stock Exchange.

Moreover, four years ago, Gill purchased a controlling share of Ferroviaria Oriental, the company that operates the railways in the east of Bolivia and, months later, he did the same with the country’s western network, by acquiring Ferroviaria Andina from the Chilean firm Luksic. Recent operations include his purchase of Bridgestone Firestone Venezuela.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Realia Buys Land & Reactivates Its Property Development Business

12 March 2018 – Expansión

Realia, the real estate firm controlled by Carlos Slim (pictured below), has acquired a plot of land in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid), with a buildable surface area of 44,755 m2, from the Ministry of Defence for €27.5 million. This is the first land acquisition that the company has undertaken since the Mexican magnate took control of the entity, and sees it join the wave of investments that companies in this segment are making in land in light of the reactivation of the sector, reports Europa Press.

In the case of Realia, the land purchase forms part of the reactivation of its construction and house sale activities, which it had suspended, firstly due to the crisis and, subsequently due to the process to restructure and clean-up the company. In this way, it is going to allocate this land to undertaking one of its first three housing developments. The other two, which are going to be built on the portfolio of land that the company already owns are located in Sabadell (Barcelona) and Palma de Mallorca.

Strategy

Realia’s strategy to resume its property development activity involves analysing new build construction projects in “areas where demand is consistent and the supply is very low or new”, such as specific areas of Madrid and Barcelona and “certain other places with the same market characteristics”, according to a statement made by the firm in its annual report for 2017.

That is one of the company’s main objectives for 2018, together with the improvement in margins through the streamlining and optimisation of expenses, and the recovery of prices.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

ECI Prepares To Sell Its 2 Stores In Parquesur (Madrid)

13 July 2017 – Voz Pópuli

El Corte Inglés is preparing to sell its stores in the Parquesur shopping centre, in Leganés (Madrid), according to financial sources consulted by this newspaper, under the framework of its asset sale policy to reduce debt. The group chaired by Dimas Gimeno occupies two spaces in Parquesur – which is owned by Unibail Rodamco – one for fashion and accessories, and the other for sports and leisure goods and the supermarket. El Corte Inglés assured this newspaper that no operations are currently active and that, in any case, it has remained as the tenant of other real estate assets despite divesting them.

According to real estate sources, the retail leader in Spain plans to sell various assets worth up to €150 million. Its portfolio of assets for sale includes not only the stores in Parquesur, but also others located in Burgos, Valencia and Madrid.

Leading this process is a stalwart of the Spanish company, Carlos Muñóz Gordobil, whom the sources consulted define as “a tough nut” and “old school operator”. The real estate sources argue that the prices that El Corte Inglés is asking for these buildings, which it considers to be non-essential, are too high.

The same sources indicate that El Corte Inglés’ real estate business is still weighed down by the purchase it agreed in 2014 to buy a plot on Paseo de la Castellana, adjacent to the centre that the group has in the area, which Adif sold through an auction. According to these sources, who are experts in the real estate sector, the figure paid by El Corte Inglés, €136 million, was “over the top”, as it exceeded the second highest offer submitted by more than €40 million. According to El Corte Inglés, the purpose of that purchase was to create its largest shopping centre in Spain, exceeding the one located in El Bercial (Getafe), which has a surface area of 180,000 m2.

In 2015, El Corte Inglés recorded profits of €158.13 million, up by 33.9% compared to the previous year and its turnover grew by 4.3%, to reach €15,219.84 million. Although the company has improved its revenues and has significantly decreased its debt, it still has to make some changes to facilitate negotiations with its creditor banks and secure better financing conditions, explained the financial sources consulted.

Four years ago, the retail group held debt amounting to €5,000 million, which put its business model in danger, and which essentially force it into a restructuring process in 2013. The sale of 10% of its capital to a sheik in Qatar, agreed in 2015, for €1,000 million; the sale of 51% of its financing arm to Santander in 2013; and the issue of promissory notes amounting to €300 million at the end of 2015, and of bonds through Hipercor, are just some of the measures taken by El Corte Inglés to reduce its debt to below €4,000 million.

Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Alberto Ortín)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Realia Commits To Returning To The Residential Segment

29 June 2017 – Eje Prime

The real estate company in which the Mexican magnate, Carlos Slim (pictured above) holds a stake, is shaping Realia once again. The company has set itself the objective of gradually returning to the residential business, with around twenty developments. Realia is currently marketing 185 homes in three developments in Madrid, Palma de Mallorca and Barcelona.

At a meeting of its shareholders, Gerardo Kuri, CEO of Realia, said that the company’s priority over the last few months has been to clean-up and restructure its debt, according to Cinco Días. In fact, in one year, its liabilities have decreased from €1,145 million to €731 million, based on data as at May 2017.

“The most important event of last year was the financial restructuring that took place” – said Kuri – “the company had a major debt problem”. Slim has strengthened Realia’s financial lungs, with capital increases and a discount on the exchange of a loan for shares.

Moreover, last April, the company refinanced a loan amounting to €678 million.

“This year, there has been a major boost in the property developer business, with milestones, such as the debut on the stock exchange of Neinor” – explained the Director. “We are evaluating new projects and starting to construct homes because we want to have a significant real estate business”. Realia, which has traded on the stock market since 2007, is controlled by Slim through Inversora Carso (33.8% of the share capital) and FCC (36.9%).

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Empark’s Owners Engage JP Morgan To Sell The Giant For €850M

19 May 2017 – Expansión

Empark is back on the market. The Portuguese controlling shareholders of the car park company have engaged JP Morgan to find a buyer for an entity worth around €850 million, on the basis of the prices and valuations of other similar transactions in the sector. Empark is the leading car park company in Spain with 500,000 parking spaces in the Iberian Peninsula, the United Kingdom and Turkey. The firm’s gross operating profit (EBITDA) amounts to €65 million and its debt, which the company has been restructuring over the last year, amounts to €475 million.

Following the most recent changes, Empark’s shareholder structure is still dominated by the Portuguese investors Silva & Silva, which own 78% of the company. The second largest shareholder is the Chinese conglomerate Haitong, with a 14% stake.

The company’s control vehicle is dominated by the founding families, who participate in the management of the group. The main executives of Empark are José Augusto Tavares, Pedro Mendes (Executive President) and Antonio Moura.

The last attempt to sell the company was made in 2015. Then, the company progressed to the stage of selecting a buyer, Vinci Park (Ardian), but the operation did not come to fruition. Vinci Park reported the breakdown in its negotiations to buy Empark in July of that year after finalising its due diligence work, which produced unsatisfactory findings. Ultimately, the company was concerned about Empark’s high exposure to town halls which, following the local elections held that year, were considering “re-municipalisation”.

Sources close to the fund Ardian say that they are not interested in the operation at the moment. The infrastructure investment giant put Indigo (formerly Vinci park) up for sale this year for around €3,000 million. The sale of Empark is quite complex, given that the shares of the car park company serve, in turn, to secure the shareholders’ personal loans.

According to sources close to the operation, the Portuguese shareholders have dragged the other shareholders into the sale and have been given until the beginning of October to find a buyer. They are keen to leverage the ‘drag along clause’ set out in the company’s shareholder agreements (which means that when a third party makes an offer to purchase the company by buying all of its share capital, then the shareholder that has the ‘drag along right’ may force the other shareholders to sell their stakes to the buyer).

Sources in the sector believe that if Pedro Mendes and his partners do not find an investor with a reasonable offer in time, Haitong may push ahead with the operation by itself or with one of Empark’s creditor banks. Deutsche Bank is one of the company’s latest lenders. The German bank manages the fund RREEF Infrastructure.

One of the possible candidates to analyse the purchase operation is the fund First State, which acquired España Parkia from the Nordic fund EQT and Mutua Madrileña in 2016 for just over €300 million. The US fund Alinda is also very active in Spain. It has made an offer to buy Isolux’s car park portfolio. Another candidate could be the Chinese firm Haitong

Original story: Expansión (by C. Morán)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Inmo Acquires 4.7% Of Colonial & Buys Puig’s HQ From BBVA

25 April 2017 – El Español

Inmo, the real estate company owned by the Puig family, has acquired shares in Inmobiliaria Colonial to take its stake in the company to 4.7%. Meanwhile, it has also purchased the headquarters of the Puig perfume and fashion company that BBVA put up for sale in October.

Inmo encompasses the real estate activity and assets of the family-owned group, and Inmo’s investment in Inmobiliaria Colonial comes in response to its “willingness to diversify” its exposure in the real estate sector, according to a statement issued on Monday.

Regarding the acquisition of Puig’s headquarters in Plaza Europa de L’Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelona), the property has 21 storeys and covers a surface area of 14,300 m2. (…).

Inmo’s announcement on Monday comes after Colonial reported in February that it had teamed up with the real estate company owned by the Puig family to develop a new office tower in Barcelona, an “iconic” building in the Catalan capital that will involve investment amounting to €32 million.

The project forms part of the investment in new real estate assets that the real estate company announced in its three markets: Madrid, Barcelona and Paris, for €400 million in total.

In the case of the new tower in Barcelona, the project will be constructed through a joint venture, which Colonial will constitute together with the Puig family’s real estate arm (50% each). The latter will contribute the land on which the property will be built.

The new tower will be located in Plaza Europa, next door to the headquarters that the perfume group rents out. The project involves building a 60m tall, 21-storey building, which will have a surface area of 14,000 m2. (…).

Colonial announced the new tower under the framework of investing in new assets that forms another part of its growth strategy, which it launched in 2005 after completing its clean-up and restructuring process.

Since then, the firm has accumulated investments in new assets amounting to €1,760 million, according to its President, Juan José Brugera. (…).

Original story: El Español

Translation: Carmel Drake