Santander Looks to Sell the Luxurious El Santo Estate in Madrid

16 October 2019 – The Santander Group is preparing to sell the well-known, 1,000-hectare El Santo estate, for potentially more than 50 million euros. The asset is in Aldea del Fresno, Madrid, and was owned until recently by the president of Sacyr, Manuel Manrique. Through its subsidiary, Altamira Real Estate, the banking group commissioned topographic studies of the property in preparation for the likely sale.

Mr Manrique originally acquired the estate in 2007 for approximately 52 million euros. The property extends through the municipalities of Aldea del Fresno, Navas del Rey and Chapinería. The estate is known for its hunting grounds and arable land, particularly for the cultivation of olive trees and cereals.

Original Story: Vozpópuli – Alberto Sierra

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

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

Blackstone Buys 50% of Testa from Merlin, Santander & BBVA

17 September 2018 – Eje Prime

Blackstone is strengthening its commitment to Spanish property. The US fund, which has been very active in the domestic real estate market in recent years, has just completed the purchase of 50.01% of Testa from Merlin, Santander and BBVA, according to a statement issued by the parties.

Testa is the largest manager of rental homes in Spain, with 10,615 real estate assets in its portfolio and a turnover of €85 million in annualised gross income. Most of the shares of the Socimi, which has been listed on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB) since July, will now be owned by Tropic Real Estate Holding, a company managed by Blackstone.

One of the largest shareholders of the company, the real estate firm Merlin, has pocketed €321 million from this operation, which means valuing the own funds of Spain’s largest Socimi at €1.895 billion. With the funds obtained, the company led by Ismael Clemente plans to reduce its debt, within the framework of the company’s objectives.

Following Merlin’s exit from the company, Acciona Inmobiliaria, the real estate investment arm of the energy firm, has been left as the main domestic shareholder of the listed company.

Testa’s homes are primarily located in Madrid, although the firm also has a presence in other major cities in the country such as Barcelona, San Sebastián, Valencia, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Valencia and Palma, amongst others.

Testa, created in 2001 by the construction company Sacyr, invested €228 million in March in the purchase of 4,500 homes from the BuildingCenter, the real estate arm of CaixaBank. Moreover, following its incorporation onto the MAB, one of its largest shareholders, Acciona Inmobiliaria studied the possibility of becoming a reference shareholder of the Socimi.

Original story: Eje Prime 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Merlin Invests €55M to Reposition its Assets in Azca (Madrid)

24 May 2018 – Expansión

Merlin has launched an ambitious renovation plan for two of its buildings located in the heart of Madrid’s financial district, the Azca complex, one of the capital’s most important commercial and business areas.

Specifically, the Socimi led by Ismael Clemente is going to invest €55 million to refurbish the building located at number 83 and 85 Paseo de la Castellana and another property located in Plaza Ruiz Picasso. The company plans to start the renovation work in 2020.

In the property located at numbers 83 and 85 Paseo de la Castellana, the company is planning a complete renovation of the façade and entrance lobby, which will have a triple height ceiling. Similarly, the refurbishment of the building will include the common areas and other installations.

This building, the current headquarters of Sacyr, has a surface area of 15,254 m2 spread over the ground floor, 11 above ground floors and two underground floors. The aim of the Socimi is to strengthen the space dedicated to retail.

Comprehensive renovation

The Socimi will invest €25 million in that renovation project, which will require almost the entire building to be vacated. “It is one of the best buildings in Madrid and we hope that it will be the doorway to the future reconfigured Azca that we are working on”, said Ismael Clemente, CEO of Merlin, speaking a few days ago at the General Shareholders’ Meeting. In addition, Merlin will invest €30 million to reposition the property in Plaza Ruiz Picasso and to create a building with “the most extensive and best-equipped floor space in all of Azca”.

That asset, which has a surface area of 31,576 m2, will have dual access, from Calle Trías Bertrán and Plaza Ruíz Picasso, and will contain various retail spaces. “This building is almost invisible at the moment but that situation will change after the renovation. The location is crying out for it”, said Clemente.

The director explained that the property has an “exceptional” parking provision for an office building, given that, initially, it was conceived as a shopping centre. Merlin is working with the Spanish architecture studio Fenwick Iribarren to renovate this building (…)

These two buildings owned by Merlin live alongside Torre Titania, the skyscraper owner by El Corte Inglés (…). Meanwhile, Castellana 81 and Torre Ederra, located at number 77 Paseo de la Castellana, are owned by the Socimi GMP; Torre Europe is controlled by Infinorsa; whilst Torre Picasso belongs to Pontegadea, the investment vehicle owned by Amancio Ortega (…).

The Landmark I Plan

The renovation of these two properties forms part of a larger project, the Landmark I Plan, which comprises a total investment of €250 million in office buildings over the next four years.

Within the framework of the Landmark I Plan, Merlin is going to handover Torre Glòries in Barcelona and Torre Chamartín. Over the next few years, the Socimi is also going to renovate the properties located at numbers 38 and 40 Calle Alcalá, Castellana 93, Alfonso XI and Princesa 5-7 in Madrid;  as well as Diagonal 605 in Barcelona; and Monumental and Marqués de Pombal 3 in Lisbon.

“Over the next 12 to 18 months, there is going to be more demand than supply in the market due to the volume of obsolete products. At that point, rents will enjoy a sweet moment, and will move significantly upwards”, say sources at the Socimi.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sacyr Claims €518.5M from Government of Murcia for its Ghost Airport

23 April 2018 – El Confidencial

Sacyr wants to take the conflict with the Region of Murcia over the private airport in Corvera to its logical conclusion. The construction company chaired by Manuel Manrique is claiming €518.5 million from the Regional (Partido Popular) government for the suspension of the concession to operate the airport infrastructure, which has ended up in the hands of the public entity Aena. The company in which the Murcian owner of El Pozo also owns a stake is demanding twice the amount that it cost it to construct the property.

According to an internal document from Sacyr, the ‘Concessionaire Company of the Airport for the Region of Murcia’ (‘Sociedad Concesionaria del Aeropuerto de la Región de Murcia’ or SCAM) filed a report on 17 January urging the autonomous government to issue a resolution to award the concessionaire a settlement of €518.5 million. That petition comes almost five years after the Government, now chaired by Fernando López Miras, terminated the contract for an alleged breach and a month after the Murican Executive agreed the management of the private airport with Aena – which is controlled by the State – for the next 25 years.

The claim is based on three concepts. The first relates to the investments and costs incurred by SCAM, in which Sacyr holds an 80% stake, for the development and execution of the concession contract. That sum amounted to €256.69 million as at 22 March 2016, the date immediately prior to when the Region of Murcia took ownership of the asset, plus an additional €1.97 million for the maintenance work carried out by the construction company until 30 September last year.

Sacyr and its shareholders, which include Banco Sabadell and Grupo Fuertes (El Pozo), the largest industrial group in Murcia, are also claiming €35.1 million in extra costs borne by the company resulting from the early termination of the concession contract, amounts that “must also be updated at the date of their reimbursement and/or settlement”. Finally, the company is demanding €224.82 million for the profit forgone or forecast loss, as assessed by an independent expert, whose identity has not been revealed by Sacyr.

The Corvera airport was awarded to Sacyr in 2007 (…). Nevertheless, after construction was completed in 2012, it could not be opened due to insurmountable differences that were so great they even led to the intervention of the Guardia Civil.

After long disputes (…) and some unsuccessful negotiations, the regional Government expropriated the airport and awarded it again at the end of last year. The winner was Aena (…), which undertook to manage the airport in exchange for closing the San Javier military airfield, closer to the Mar Menor and just 30 km from Corvera.

The new airport, which is expected to begin operation in December, is going to be called Juan de la Cierva, in honour of the Murcian man who invented the gyroplane. The infrastructure is expected to receive 800,000 international tourists during its first four years and will be able to handle 3.5 million passengers per year. Initial forecasts indicate sales of €495.8 million during the 25-year concession. Its largest competitor will continue to be the airport in Alicante, which handles more than 12 million users per year.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Agustín Marco)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Pryconsa is Awarded the Bus Depot Plot in Madrid for €19.1M

15 January 2018 – Eje Prime

Pryconsa didn’t end up having to put up a fight for the plot in Carabanchel. Rather, the Spanish property developer was awarded the plot that used to house the EMT (Municipal Transport Company) bus depot in Madrid, for which the Town Hall was asking €16.3 million and for which it will end up receiving €19.1 million. In reality, no one else submitted a bid in the auction for this residential-use plot on which around 268 homes may be built and which has an available buildable surface area of 26,820 m2.

The total surface area of the land spans 37,475 m2 and, at the height of the pre-crisis boom, it was worth €75 million, according to El Confidencial. The plot has been put up for sale before, on up to five occasions, without success for the Spanish capital’s Town Hall. Now, and despite the clear decrease in market prices, the EMT has managed to improve the asking price with which it started the auction a month ago by 21%.

Located in the neighbourhood of Buenavista, interest in the plot has changed sharply over the last decade. The first auction for the plot was held in 2006, when besides the company chaired by Marco Colomer (Pryconsa), the EMT also received offers that were significantly higher than the current one from several other large real estate companies, some of which no longer exist. Back then, possible suitors included Colonial, Reyal Urbis, Sacyr, Fadesa and Agofer, the property developer owned at the time by Juan Antonio Gómez Pintado, the current boss of the emerging Vía Célere.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake


Blackstone & Brookfield Submit Bids To Buy HI Partners

5 October 2017 – Eje Prime

Sabadell may be selling off its hotels. The Catalan bank has received two offers from two international investment funds to divest its hotel chain, HI Partners. The interested parties are Blackstone and Brookfield, who have submitted bids to purchase all of the assets owned by Sabadell’s subsidiary.

HI Partners has been preparing its debut on the stock market, for which it has engaged Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley and Citi. With a value of €1,000 million and another €850 million of debt under management, Sabadell was committed to listing the company on the stock market this year. But according to El Confidencial, that decision could now be up in the air.

The bank chaired by Josep Oliu has been running the hotel chain for the last two years, under the leadership of Alejandro Hernández-Puértolas and Santiago Fisas. Its portfolio comprises around thirty hotels, including The Ritz-Carlton Abama and the Jardín Tropical, in Tenerife, and the recently inaugurated Hotel Axel, in Madrid.

A year ago, the subsidiary of Sabadell purchased three hotels in the Canary Islands from Grupo Lopesan, in a three-way operation with the construction company Sacyr and the island-based holding company.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sacyr Wants To Clean Up Vallehermoso And Sell It Off Within 1 Year

11 September 2017 – El Confidencial

The appetite that international funds have unleashed for the Spanish real estate market has led Sacyr to redouble its negotiations with the creditor entities of its property developer subsidiary, Vallehermoso. The aim is to accelerate the settlement of that firm’s liabilities in order to sell off the last remains of the company, which is now just a shadow of what it used to be, but which is still a recognised brand in the market.

That is precisely the card that Sacyr wants to play: to take advantage of the appetite from the large overseas investors, to offer them a platform with extensive experience in the domestic property development market and which represents a household name for buyers. But, before reaching that point, it needs to complete the group’s financial clean-up.

The company chaired by Manuel Manrique acknowledges in its accounts for the first half of this year that “the negotiations with the creditor financial institutions progressed to decrease the debt significantly during the year”. Vallehermoso closed 2016 with financial commitments of €30 million, a similar figure to the previous year, but it managed to reduce its losses from €32.5 million to €7 million.

Sacyr is confident about its ability to pay off the liabilities of its subsidiary within one year and therefore be in a position to sell the company within the same time frame. Nevertheless, no formal sales mandate currently exists or is being organised, since all efforts are being focused on first achieving an agreement with the banks.

Vallehermoso’s current assets are worth €135 million, according to the latest appraisal performed by Gesvalt at the end of 2016. Of that amount, €129.9 million corresponds to land and €5.1 million to finished products and real estate investments. These figures are a far cry from the assets worth €7,000 million that the company held under its umbrella before the crisis, a giant that is already a distant memory and of which barely nothing remains after seven consecutive years of losses.

In fact, in February 2015, Sacyr was forced to come to the rescue of its subsidiary and inject €248.4 million to re-establish its equity balance, given that the property developer had closed the previous year on the verge of bankruptcy, with net assets amounting to less than half its share capital.

Nevertheless, since then, Vallehermoso has succeeded in convincing its creditor banks to accept discounts on the sales they are undertaking in order to accelerate the unblocking of finished assets, at the same time as sealing “daciones en pago” to also offload land, a strategy that Sacyr is confident of being able to redouble this year to finish cleaning up the company and getting it ready to sell (…).

A step-by-step liquidation 

In 2013 (…), the infrastructure group decided to deconsolidate its property developer subsidiary and account for it as an available-for-sale asset (…).

A year later, at the end of 2014, Sacyr transferred assets worth €1,000 million from Vallehermoso to Sareb in two consecutive operations, which meant the practical liquidation of the group (…).

Since then, Sacyr has held onto Vallehermoso as an available-for-sale asset. So far it has not managed to close the sale, but it is confident that it will be able to within the next few months, if the new round of conversations with its financial institutions yield the expected results.

Original story: El Confidencial (by R. Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Lopesan and Satocan Bid for BBVA Shopping Centre


9 August 2017

Two companies from the Canary Islands, Lopesan and Satocan, investors in the Sacyr construction company, will jointly bid for the El Muelle shopping centre located in Las Palmas and owned by BBVA. Another company from the Canary Islands, Germán Suárez (Astican and Astander), will participate in the deal, along with the Syrian investor Amid Achid (Almacenes Número 1). They are offering roughly 15 million euros for the 90,000-square meter centre. The total investment, including renovations, would rise to 35 million euros, as confirmed by Amid Achid to Expansión.

Lopesan belongs to the tourism entrepreneur Eustasio López, who acquired 2.44% of Sacyr this year. Juan Miguel Sanjuán (Satocan) maintains a stake with Demetrio Carceller (Disa-Damm), with almost 15% of the construction company.

Having almost closed nine years ago, El Muelle managed to become a key part of the tourist development of Las Palmas. The 90,000 square meters in the port area have received investments of 100 million euros. The most prominent is the German company Kiessling (Loro Parque), which invested €60 million to develop one the largest aquariums in Europe, next to El Muelle.

The shopping centre was inaugurated in 1989 by Riofisa. A decade later, in a state of advanced deterioration, the centre was sold to Caixa Catalunya, and then Sareb, which in turn sold it to BBVA. Riofisa agreed with Amid Achid to manage the centre. The president of the Port Authority, the socialist Luis Ibarra, extended the concession term until 2029. El Muelle, which is next to the cruise ship terminal, was valued at 90 million before the housing bubble burst. The centre has a supermarket owned by the group HD-Dinosol, a leader in the Canary Islands, and is also home to stores including Inditex, Cortefiel, Benetton, Pepe Jeans, Fund Grube, McDonald’s and Burger King.


The islanders are trying to accelerate negotiations with BBVA before the inauguration of a new shopping centre in Las Palmas, owned by the Domínguez brothers (co-owners of Dinosol).

The centre will be called Alisios and was designed by the same architectural office that designed El Muelle, Champ Taylor. Alisios, with an investment of 150 million euros, will have 120 shops, 2,500 parking spaces and 70 restaurants. It will employ 1,500 people.

In addition to El Muelle, other shopping centres such as Las Ramblas, La Minilla and Siete Palmas (all three include a Mercadona supermarket and are very close to Alisios) could change hands.

Original Story: Expansión ProOrbyt / José Mújica

Translation: Richard Turner

Lopesan Sells 3 Hotels In Canary Islands To HI Partners For €104M

2 June 2017 – Preferente

Lopesan is experiencing one of its most intense moments in its history and proof of that are the recent business operations that the company has undertaken. Specifically, it has purchased a package of more than 12 million shares in the construction company Sacyr (in a surprise move, Lopesan purchased 2.4% of Sacyr for €30 million); in addition, it has sold three of its hotels to the investor group HI Partners for more than €104 million, according to market sources.

The company has sold the following three hotel establishments, although it will continue to manage them: IFA Beach de San Agustín, the IFA Dunamar and the IFA Continental in Playa del Inglés, in Gran Canaria. This sale has already been reported to the German stock exchange.

Although the dates overlap, according to sources close to the Group’s President, the sales operation is not related to the purchase of Sacyr’s shares; “the Group owns lots of hotels that were constructed in the 1970s that need renovating, which means that it will invest the majority of this new capital in refurbishment projects”.

Another major project in which Lopesan is involved is the construction of a tourist complex with more than 1,000 rooms in the Dominican Republic. Specifically, it is working with its German subsidiary, IFA – in which it holds a majority stake – on this project, which forms part of its international expansion strategy and which will be incorporated into its portfolio.

Original story: Preferente

Translation: Carmel Drake