Santander Awards the Management of Popular’s €5bn Portfolio to Blackstone

12 November 2018 – Expansión

Santander and Blackstone have reached an agreement whereby the US fund, through the real estate servicer Aliseda, has taken on the management of a portfolio of assets from Popular amounting to €5 billion, which Santander is retaining on its balance sheet. The portfolio includes real estate assets and loans linked to the retail segment and Santander is retaining ownership of 100% of the assets. They were left out of the transfer of Popular’s assets to Quasar, the joint venture that the bank and Blackstone launched last year.

Santander transferred the bulk of Popular’s damaged portfolio to Quasar (€30 billion gross, linked primarily to property developers), along with 100% of the share capital of Aliseda. Blackstone controls the management of Quasar and 51% of the shares and Santander the remaining 49%. The bank has this stake valued at €1.7 billion on its balance sheet.

“The assets under management have been classified into two different groups, to reflect their owner: the Santander Group portfolio, owned by Popular (and now absorbed by Santander) and the Popular portfolio, owned by Project Quasar 2017”, according to the annual accounts of Aliseda. Specific teams have been configured within the servicer to manage Santander’s assets.

As at June, the latest available disaggregated figures, the entity chaired by Ana Botín still had a portfolio of foreclosed assets amounting to €10.5 billion gross. They have been cleaned with €5.2 billion in provisions (48.9%), which brings their net value to €5.4 billion. Nevertheless, in September, it sold a portfolio of properties worth €1.5 billion to Cerberus. In addition, Santander has loans to property developers amounting to €5.7 billion. Of the total, €1.8 billion are doubtful balances, with a default rate of 32%.

Santander currently has agreements with three servicers (Altamira, Aliseda and Casaktua). It paid those three companies almost €460 million in management commissions last year.

Meanwhile, Aliseda, which is now controlled by Blackstone and Santander, has rescinded the syndicated loan that it signed in 2015. At the time, the funds Värde Partners and Kennedy Wilson owned 51% of the real estate manager’s share capital and Popular owned the remaining 49%.

Following the acquisition of Popular by Santander, the entity chaired by Ana Botón repurchased the 51% stake held by Värde Partners and Kennedy Wilson, as a step prior to the transfer of 100% of Aliseda to Quasar.

“According to the syndicated financing contract subscribed on 27 November 2015, the cancellation of the loan has been formalised, following the repayment of the principal and outstanding interest, and of the cancellation penalty for the overall amount of €266.03 million”, said Aliseda’s report.

The bank with the greatest share of the loan was Popular itself (33.33%), with an outstanding balance of €87.86 million at the end of 2017. Bankia, Santander, Sabadell and Bankinter, with shares of 10%, had outstanding balances of around €25 million each. ING (€24.3 million), Crédit Agricole (€23.3 million) and BBVA (€17.5 million) completed the group of banks in the syndicate.

The interest rate on the loan, conditioned on the debt ratio and the gross result of the company, was six-month Euribor plus a spread of between 2.75% and 3.50%.

Following the change of ownership of Aliseda and its senior management team, the servicer paid compensation for redundancies of €1.4 million last year. It also paid €5.64 million for a remuneration plan that granted certain executives the right to receive remuneration in the event of a change of control of the company.

Original story: Expansión (by M. Martínez)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Barings Finalises Purchase of 5 Office Buildings in Madrid from Meridia

27 July 2018 – Eje Prime

The office market in Madrid is just a few days away from seeing the completion of a deal that is shaping up to be the largest operation of the summer. The British fund Barings is finalising the purchase of five office buildings owned by Meridia Capital in the Avalon business park, which have a total surface area of 25,785 m2, according to confirmation provided by sources close to the operation speaking to Eje Prime.

The American fund Starwood Capital was also a finalist in the bid for this portfolio of assets, but in the end, Barings has fought off the competition to seal the deal. The total amount of the operation has not been revealed, but the transaction is expected to be signed within the next few days. The real estate consultancy firm Savills Aguirre Newman is advising Meridia on the sale.

Located in the Julián Camarillo district, the new tech area of the Spanish capital, the Avalon business park comprises nine buildings and spans a total surface area of almost 47,000 m2. The rest of the properties in the complex are owned by GreenOak, which purchased its four assets from Banco Santander in 2015 for €40 million.

That same year, Meridia also completed its entry as an owner of the Avalon properties. In May 2015, the Catalan fund, led by the businessman Javier Faus, acquired the five Madrilenian buildings, as part of its purchase for €60 million of 33 assets from Naropa Capital, the family office owned by the Fernández Fermoselle family. The offices in Julián Camarillo were the main assets in the portfolio, but it also included commercial premises, residential properties and even a plot of land in Valencia.

With this operation, Barings is acquiring five assets that, in addition to a vast office space, have 423 parking spaces in a highly sought-after area of Madrid, close to the Adolfo Suárez-Barajas airport.

Diversification: after logistics and retail come offices

Barings is on fire in the Spanish real estate market. This latest operation that it is on the verge of signing in Madrid follows several others that it has closed over the last year, to take advantage of the new upward cycle in the real estate sector.

Nevertheless, Avalon is the first large portfolio that the British fund has purchased in the Spanish office market. Barings is, therefore, diversifying within the real estate sector, where it has made investments in the logistics and retail segments in recent months (…).

€23 million more for new purchases and to create a Socimi 

In the framework of its new roadmap for the Spanish real estate market, Barings carried out a capital increase amounting to €23.1 million last February for its Spanish subsidiary Barings Core Spain.

The reason for this reinforcement to its financial muscle resulted from the British fund’s interest to convert the company into a Socimi. The group’s intention is to combine all of the assets owned by Barings in Spain in this new vehicle and to list it on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB) over the coming months, as revealed by Eje Prime.

Original story: Eje Prime (by Jabier Izquierdo & Pilar Riaño)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Deloitte: Tertiary Real Estate Inv’t Amounts to €9.7bn in 2017

27 December 2017 – Expansión

An increase in property prices has led to a 22% reduction in the purchase of non-residential assets in 2017 with respect to 2016.

The boom that has marked the real estate investment sector in Spain since 2014 is starting to show signs of slowing. That is according to the most recent non-residential investment figures, which, with just a few days to go before year-end, are reflecting a decrease of 22% with respect to 2016.

According to a market study performed by Deloitte Real Estate, investors spent €9.7 billion this year on tertiary properties (offices, hotels, commercial and logistics assets) compared with €12.4 billion in 2016 and €11.8 billion in 2015.

“With just a few operations still left to close before 31 December, which will amount to between €0.5 billion and €0.6 billion, tertiary investment has fallen by 22%. This decrease in activity is a sign that we have crossed the equator of the bullish cycle and that we are possibly starting a period of greater stability”, explained Javier García-Mateo, Partner in Financial Advisory at Deloitte.

The 22% decrease is due to a weaker second half of the year in terms of the rate of investment (…). During the third quarter, investment fell from €6.6 billion in 2016 to €1.6 billion this year, says Deloitte in its report. During the fourth quarter, the difference was a decrease of 42% (€2.8 billion compared with €1.8 billion). The decrease is more pronounced in the property segments that tend to lead absolute investment, namely, offices and retail assets. In the case of the former, investors have spent €2.3 billion in 2017, less than half the amount recorded in 2016 (€4.9 billion) and 2015 (€5.3 billion) (…). “Offices tends to be the segment that traditionally leads investment, but this year it has decreased by 55%. This is not due to a lack of supply, but rather the gap between the expectations of sellers and the offers from buyers. Moreover, some operations have been abandoned, such as the sale of Hispania’s portfolio”, said García-Mateo.

In this way, unlike in previous years, where large operations were closed during the final quarter of the year, such as Torre Foster – sold for €490 million at the end of 2016-, Torre Espacio – sold in November 2015 for €550 million – and Torre Picasso – sold for €400 million in December 2011 – this year, the most significant operation has been the sale of 50% of Torre Caleido on Paseo de la Castellana, for around €150 million, closed during the first quarter of the year.

In the case of retail assets, investment in shopping centres fell by 29% to €2.7 billion, despite record operations such as the one involving Xanadú, whilst the purchase of shops fell by 36% to €421 million.

“After 4 years of increases in valuations and the consequent decrease in yields, investment in offices and retail property is significantly less attractive than in the hotel and logistics segments, where there are up to 3 points of differential per year”, say the sources at Deloitte. The large hotel operations this year have included the purchase of Edificio España by the Riu Group and the sale of HI Partners, along with its 14 establishments, by Banco Sabadell to Blackstone for €630.73 million.

Cataluña

The 22% decrease comes at a time that is being characterised by the independentist challenge in Cataluña, although the uncertainty being generated in that region does not seem to have had an impact on real estate investment, at least not yet, according to García-Mateo. “In Cataluña, the absorption of office space has fallen and sales in shopping centres have also decreased, by around 10% with respect to Q4 2016, but investment has not been hit, as evidenced by Meridia Capital’s recent purchase of the Barnasud shopping centre and Invesco’s acquisition of the Mango facilities in Palau de Plegamans (Barcelona)”, he added.

In this way, the experts justify that the decrease in investment is due to a change in the cycle, following four years of rapid growth (…).

Nevertheless, the €9.7 billion spent during 2017 represents the fourth-highest figure in the historical series (dating back 13 years).

It was only in the last two years, as well as in the record year for the sector (2007), when investment amounted to €12.6 billion, that investment in non-residential assets exceeded the €10 billion threshold, according to Deloitte.

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Meridia Buys Barnasud Shopping Centre For €35M

9 November 2017 – Expansión 

Meridia Capital has purchased the Barnasud shopping centre, located in Gavà, 20km from Barcelona. The operation, which was signed yesterday, was completed for a consideration of €35 million.

The complex was previously owned by Unibail Rodamco, which is continuing with its strategy to divest its least strategic assets, by location and volume, to focus on its largest properties, which represent the main business of the European shopping centre giant.

The French-Dutch group continues to own three other first-rate shopping centres in Barcelona – La Maquinista, Splau and Glòries– and fifteen shopping centres across the whole of Spain. Unibail has been advised by Cushman & Wakefield. Meanwhile, Meridia manages assets with a combined value of almost €1,000 million and has consolidated its presence in the country over the last three years.

Barnasud was inaugurated in 1995 and houses 43 stores, 13 restaurants and a seven-screen cinema. Its fashion establishments include Mango, Macson and Springfield. None of the brands from the Inditex group has a presence in the centre. The restaurant area includes operators such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Hollywood, and the multi-screen cinema is operated by Cinesa.

The President of Meridia Capital, Javier Faus, revealed that the company was on the verge of closing a purchase in the retail sector on Tuesday at the Economy Circle, as proof that the fund still has faith in the Catalan market. Faus, which will have to start to divest the assets held by one of Meridia’s funds in 2018, said that “the task of educating institutional investors is very important”. In his opinion, “the current situation in Cataluña is reversible and everything will improve if the right decisions are made”.

Original story: Expansión (by M. Anglés and R. Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

JLL: Retail Inv’t Will Soar To €4,000M+ In 2017

6 November 2017 – Eje Prime

The retail segment is attracting the attention of investment funds and is set a register a new record in 2017. Investment in retail assets is expected to soar by the end of this year to exceed €4,000 million, according to estimates from the real estate consultancy firm JLL. Operations such as the sale of the Mercado de San Miguel and the Mercado de Fuencarral, both in Madrid, will help this segment of the Spanish real estate sector record a new milestone this year.

So far this year, the commercial premises business has already broken all the records and registered the highest level of investment for the last fourteen years. During the nine months to September, the volume of investment in the retail sector amounted to almost €3,488 million, according to the Market Fundamentals report for Q3, compiled by the consultancy firm.

“The inter-annual footfall index in Spain rose by 1.7% in September and retail sales rose by 0.9% with respect to the previous month”, explain professionals in the retail business. This fact, together with the reality that prime rents are continuing to grow at a good pace, means that funds are looking very closely at retail premises.

The large operations involving portfolios of hypermarkets located across Spain stand out, as do the sales of the Mercado de San Miguel and the Gran Vía Alicante shopping centre. Other operations, such as the sale of Mercado de Fuencarral by Activum to AEW for €50 million have also helped to boost business in this segment in Spain.

“In terms of trends in the retail sector, over the last few months, we have seen how the traditional large format retailers are continuing to move into the city centres, convinced that their proximity to consumers will generate greater sales opportunities for them”, explain sources at JLL. Examples include Decathlon’s arrival on Calle Fuencarral and the opening of a Leroy Merlin store in the heart of Barcelona.

Another example is the case of Ikea on Calle Serrano. The Swedish group has just debuted its “test” of its new format, known as Ikea Temporary; it opened the doors of its first establishment in the centre of Madrid, in a building owned by the Loncito family office.

Moreover, last month, Media Markt opened its third urban store in Madrid, in the central Plaza del Carmen, close to the Preciados shopping street. In this way, Media Markt Preciados became the company’s 81st store in Spain and its 11th in Madrid.

Although the brand dedicated to the distribution of consumer electronics has now opened several stores under this “proximity format” in Valencia (Calle de Colón), Madrid (Calle de Alcalá and Paseo de la Castellana) and Barcelona (Plaza Cataluña and the Digital Store on Avenida Diagonal), the company is looking to further consolidate its arrival in Spain’s city centres with this latest opening.

Original story: Eje Prime (by C. Pareja)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Aguirre Newman: Inv’t In Shopping Centres Exceeded €1,000M In Q1

4 May 2017 – Expansión

Shopping centres are continuing to capture investor interest and in Q1, retail represented the second most active real estate segment, exceeded only by offices. After a record-breaking year in 2016, with an investment volume of more than €3,500 million, up by 59%, investment activity in this type of asset continued during the first quarter of 2017 to amount to more than €1,000 million, according to a study compiled by Aguirre Newman.

Milestones such as Deutsche Bank’s purchase of the Diagonal Mar shopping centre (Barcelona) for €495 million last August and Intu’s recent acquisition of the Xanadú shopping centre in Arroyomolinos (Madrid) for €530 million have carried this market to historical maximums.

Institutional investment funds account for 52% of the total investment volume, followed by Socimis, with 38%, and then real estate companies and private investors. The forecasts indicate that investors’ interest in this market will continue in 2017, although “it will be hard to achieve the investment volume recorded in 2016 given the lower supply of products for sale”.

Aguirre Newman’s study predicts that around 235,000 m2 of new surface area will be incorporated into the market this year, compared with 273,000 m2 last year. Of the total, 80% will correspond to new supply, whilst the remaining 20% will be generated by the expansion of existing shopping centres.

By autonomous region, Andalucía, Madrid, Valencia and Cataluña account for 55% of the shopping centres in Spain and 58% of the gross leasable area (GLA). By contrast, Cantabria, La Rioja and Ceuta are the autonomous regions with the smallest gross leasable areas, alongside Melilla, which is the only region not to have any shopping centres at all.

In terms of returns, the initial rate required for the best shopping centres will continue to range between 4% and 4.5% although that figure may be lower for certain very unique assets.

According to the study, demand for retail premises from medium and large chains will continue to focus on the best performing shopping centres, whilst small local traders, which have a more limited appeal, will opt for the poorly positioned centres.

Original story: Expansión (R. Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

C&W: RE Investment Grew By 20% In Q1 2016

22 April 2016 – Expansión

According to Cushman & Wakefield, during Q1 2016, 40 operations were closed in the real estate sector, worth €2,400 million.

Real estate investment in Spain grew by 20% during the first quarter compared with the same period in 2015, with the signing of around 40 operations, worth €2,400 million, according to a report published on Thursday by Cushman & Wakefield.

“The first quarter of the year continues to show the strength of investment activity in the Spanish real estate sector”, said the real estate consultancy, which explained that more than 40% of the figure recorded during the 3 months to March related to a single transaction, namely the portfolio of offices acquired by Metrovacesa.

The office sector secured the most capital (51% of the total), with investment of almost €1,200 million, followed by the retail sector, which accounted for 36% of the total investment volume.

The main operations closed during the quarter were: Invesco’s purchase of an Eroski portfolio for €358 million; and the portfolio of offices in Madrid and Barcelona, owned by BBVA, Santander and Banco Popular, which are now owned by Metrovacesa.

According to the CEO of Cushman and Wakefield, Oriol Barrachina, “the lack of available high quality office space is creating difficulties for companies to find the space that they need, which has caused the rate of new rentals to drop but, at the same time, the price of office rentals, in the best areas of Madrid and Barcelona, to rise, as the availability of the best buildings continues to decline”.

“This potential for rental growth, which we have seen now for over a year, is one of the main reasons why investors are so still so interested in taking up positions in the sector”, he explained.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Savills: RE Inv’t In The Retail Sector Totalled €2,400M In 2015

14 March 2016 – Cinco Días

Real estate investors really like the retail sector in Spain. In fact, last year, they demonstrated their interest through the purchase of shopping centres, hypermarkets, supermarkets and other retail outlets. In 2015, total investment in the sector amounted to €2,400 million, to reach a new peak in the historical series prepared by the consultancy firm Savills, which dates back to the year 2000.

This data is better than any recorded during the real estate boom years of the last decade. The figure represents an increase of 14% with respect to 2014 and of 10% with respect to the market peak to date, recorded in 2006.

In terms of the number of operations in this segment, the increase of 35% with respect to last year, with 46 investment operations, also marked a new record with respect to the level reached in 2014, when 35 operations were signed.

Moreover, sources at Savills say that the pace of activity does not seem to have slowed down so far in 2016 – the number of transactions to date is in line with the number recorded during the first quarter last year. Almost €600 million has been invested so far this year, which represents a level similar to the annual volume recorded during the years of the crisis, between the period from 2009 to 2013.

The consultancy firm calculates that the current portfolio of operations in the pipeline (pending signing) and assets that are going to come onto the market in the short term could amount to an additional €2,500 million.

On the investor side, Socimis have become key players, with new players such as Lar España, which has attracted hundreds of millions in foreign funding.

In any case, cross-border investment by European and US funds accounted for more than two thirds of the total in 2015 and almost all of the investment made so far this year. On the sell side, international firms also account for most of the activity. “Players who purchased at the low point in the cycle and those that are now looking to rotate their assets are taking advantage of the recovery to generate more profits”, say the sources.

The largest transaction last year involved the sale of the Puerto Venecia shopping centre in Zaragoza, which Intu acquired from the fund Orion Capital for €451 million. That was followed by the sale of the Plenilunio shopping centre, which Klépierre bought from the same fund for €375 million. In third place was the sale of a portfolio of Eroski supermarkets to Invesco for €358 million.

Original story: Cinco Días (by A. Simón)

Translation: Carmel Drake