12 November 2018 – El Confidencial
Banco Santander’s Ciudad Financiera has a new owner. The Reuben brothers have won the bid to acquire the headquarters of the Spanish bank, whose former owner, Marme Inversiones, filed for creditors’ bankruptcy. The Asian investors, who are residents in London and lovers of Ibiza, submitted the highest bid for the land in Boadilla del Monte (Madrid), fighting off competition from the bank itself chaired by Ana Botín and from the Arab fund AGC Equity Partners.
That is the result of the bid after the envelopes containing the final offers from the three candidates were opened by the bankruptcy administrator. Although the final price is not known, the offers amounted to around €3 billion, according to sources close to the operation, one of the largest operations ever in the real estate market in Spain involving a single asset.
From now on, to validate the purchase by the Reuben brothers, the judge from the mercantile court who is conducting the sale will have to certify that the offer from the London-based millionaires is correct, fulfils all of the requirements and complies with all of the analysis regarding transparency and money laundering. Nevertheless, and even if the judge gives his blessing, Banco Santander may exercise its right of first refusal, which gives it the last word for recovering the headquarters, which it sold in 2008 to a group of investors, who were also British, and with whom it agreed to remain as the tenant for forty years.
For that, the €500 million that Santander has paid Marme by way of rental over the last ten years has to be deducted from the final price, as does the €300 million of intra-group debt that is no longer taken into consideration following the entry into bankruptcy of the company.
Movements in the courts
Because what the Reuben brothers are now buying is the asset of a company that, after borrowing funds to pay even the tax on the original acquisition in 2008, can no longer keep up repayments on the loan it requested to acquire Ciudad Financiera and so filed for bankruptcy. After a long bankruptcy administration process, numerous claims by the creditors in the courts and offers from several international sovereign funds, the Spanish entity wanted to acquire the land of its headquarters in Boadilla del Monte (Madrid), where almost 7,000 people work.
The creditors of Marme Inversiones 2007 include ING, HSH Nordbank, CaixaBank and Bayeriche Landesbank, which granted a loan amounting to €1.575 billion to Propinvest ten years ago in the form of a leaseback arrangement with Santander’s largest real estate asset. Other entities also participated in that loan, including Deutsche Postbank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Raffeisen Zentralbank, which started to sell their stakes in the loan to vulture funds in 2011, with significant discounts on the nominal values, when the owner started to acknowledge that it was unable to make the debt repayments.
One of those who purchased that debt was Blackstone, together with other similar funds, such as Centerbridge and Avenue Capital. The first two submitted an offer to acquire Ciudad Financiera on 17 September, but their proposal was lower than those offers by Santander (…).
The Reuben brothers, which have purchased almost 168 hectares of land in Ibiza over the last two years, have submitted their bid for the Ciudad Financiera through Ibiza Properties LTD. That company was constituted on 1 August, with a nominal value of just GBP 100, money that it will now have to increase to cover the payment to the bankruptcy administrator.
Original story: El Confidencial (by Agustín Marcos)
Translation: Carmel Drake