Amancio Ortega’s RE Business is Worth Almost €9bn

23 July 2018 – El Mundo

Amancio Ortega is continuing to expand the perimeter of his real estate empire. Pontegadea, the investment arm of the Inditex creator, grew by 2.8% at the end of 2017, to reach almost €9 billion (€8.759 billion) and that, despite the fact that its profits decreased by 13%, to €1.475 billion due to donations made to his foundation.

Pontegadea groups together both Amancio Ortega’s stake in Inditex as well as his real estate investments. According to the accounts filed with the Mercantile Registry of La Coruña, the company closed 2017 with a net profit attributed to the parent company of €1.475 billion, 13% less than a year earlier, due to donations amounting to €350 million made to the Amancio Ortega Foundation, a large proportion of which are devoted to the fight against cancer.

Specifically, the Foundation donated €320 million to the purchase of state-of-the-art cancer equipment, which is going to be installed in public hospitals across all of the autonomous regions.

At the end of last year, the assets of the Pontegadea group were worth €29.028 billion, its net equity amounted to €21.006 billion and its business volume reached €25.721 billion.

In addition to Torre Cepsa, which it purchased for €490 million and the building at Gran Vía 32, Ortega owns several other office buildings in Madrid such as Torre Picasso and the Castellana 79 building, which houses the largest Zara store in the world.

The Zara property portfolio

Meanwhile, Pontegadea Inmobiliaria recorded revenues (primarily due to rental income) of €385 million, up by 13.6% compared to a year earlier, and the fair value of its portfolio of assets, set by an appraiser, was €8.759 billion, up by 2.8% compared to a year earlier.

51% of the real estate revenues come from European markets, 46% from America and the remaining 3% from Asia, according to the annual accounts, which reflect that Pontegadea’s real estate investments amounted to €629 million in 2017 and at the end of the year, they amounted to €6.913 billion: €1.688 billion in Spain and the remaining €5.225 billion overseas.

Of the investments outside of Spain, €2.681 billion correspond to investments in America, €2.191 billion to Europe (excluding Spain) and €353 million to Asia.

Pontegadea Inversiones, the parent company of the Pontegadea group is chaired by Amancio Ortega and its first Vice-President is his wife, Flora Pérez.

In addition, the company’s directors include José Arnau, who is also a director of Inditex, and Roberto Cibeira, in turn, the CEO of Pontegadea Inmobiliaria.

The Inditex group, owner of fashion chains such as Zara and Massimo Dutti, recorded a net profit of €3.368 billion in the last financial year (which closed in January), up by 6.7% compared to a year earlier, and its sales amounted to €25.336 billion, up by 8.7%.

Original story: El Mundo 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Ministry of Development: Urban Land Prices Fell by 2.6% in Q1 2018

15 June 2018 – Eje Prime

Land is getting cheaper in Spain. The price per square metre of urban land decreased by 2.6% during the first quarter of the year, to €163.1/m2. Nevertheless, land prices rose by 6.6% with respect to December, according to data from the Ministry of Development.

The Land Price Statistics prepared by the public body also indicate that the volume of land sold between January and March 2018 amounted to 7.8 million m2, with a value of €770.6 million.

With respect to the same period a year earlier, the volume of urban land transferred was 36.7% higher and its value had risen by 12.9%. The total number of transactions undertaken during the first three months of the year was 4,867, up by 10.6% compared to a year earlier, when 4,401 plots were sold, and down by 16.7% compared to the number of operations completed between October and December 2017.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Núñez i Navarro Builds a Prime Residential Development on Paseo de Gracia

30 May 2018 – Eje Prime

The industry stalwart Núñez i Navarro wants to generate returns from some of its old investments. The company has started work on the renovation of one of the buildings that it acquired in Barcelona before the crisis to convert it into a residential property. The asset is located at number 125 Paseo de Gracia, one of the most prime areas of the Catalan capital for the residential sector, as sources at the company explained to Eje Prime. Moreover, Núñez i Navarro has more than a dozen new developments under construction and on the market.

The group, founded more than 65 years ago, expects to begin handing over the new homes at the end of this year. The building, which used to house offices, will comprise around twenty apartments with between one and three bedrooms. These homes, whose average price has not been revealed, will be mainly targeted at international clients and will be available for rent.

Núñez i Navarro acquired this property during the process to buy a batch of assets at the end of the 1990s. The company purchased a portfolio of four buildings in Barcelona from the insurance company Eagle Star for €26.6 million. That lot contained three buildings on Paseo de Gracia, at numbers 125, 127 and 129, as well as the property at number 641 Gran Vía de les Corts Catalanes (…).

“This project on Paseo de Gracia joins the twenty or so other renovation jobs that Núñez i Navarro has carried out in Barcelona, highlights of which include the Andreu Tower, also known as La Rotonda, the Torre Enric Cera, the Casa Lleó i Morera, Hotel 1898 on la Rambla, the only colonial style hotel in Barcelona, Hotel Gran Vía, and the Can Trías de Bes farmhouse in Sant Joan Despí, amongst others”, explain sources at the group (…).

Diversification 

Although the group’s main business is residential, the company has diversified somewhat over the years in order to generate new revenue streams. The company has a major presence in the office sector in Cataluña, with a particular concentration in the city of Barcelona. For example, its portfolio contains assets such as number 35 Paseo de Gracia (Casa Lleó Morera) and number 20 Plaza Cataluña.

The group is also strong in other businesses such as industrial warehouses, car parks and hotels (…).

Financial information 

The company, the largest unlisted real estate firm in Cataluña, saw its profits soar in 2016 to €33.1 million, compared with €12.9 million in the previous year. In this way, the group returned to positive growth, coming close to its best ever result, recorded in 2007, when it generated profits of €48.6 million (…).

By contrast, Núñez i Navarro’s turnover worsened in 2016. The company generated revenues of €110 million, down by 5.1% compared to the same period a year earlier, when its sales amounted to €116 million. The company’s consolidated own funds amount to €595 million.

Original story: Eje Prime (by C. Pareja)

Translation: Carmel Drake

CBRE GI to Invest €800M in Spain in 2018

18 May 2018 – Expansión

The real estate asset manager CBRE Global Investor (CBRE GI) is redoubling its commitment to Spain. After ending last year with a record investment of €800 million and starring in several mega-operations, the firm wants to establish a new record this year, exceeding the milestone set in 2017. From its offices in Madrid, CBRE GI manages assets worth €3.2 billion in the retail, office, logistics and student hall sectors, located in Spain and Portugal, and is getting ready to enter the residential sector.

“Last year was very important given the significant transaction activity undertaken, of which €800 million corresponded to purchases. This year, we hope to match that figure and even exceed it”, explained Antonio Simontalero, Head of Operations for Spain and Portugal at CBRE GI, speaking to Expansión.

The firm works with eight funds and owns a portfolio comprising 19 shopping centres, 37 logistics platforms, three office buildings and 33 halls of residence for students.

Although retail is still the main market for the manager, accounting for 70% of its portfolio, CBRE GI has decided to attack new businesses. Thus, last year, it entered the market for student halls with the purchase, together with AXA IM Real Assets and Greystar, of Resa, the market leader in Spain, for €400 million. “We are continuing to analyse opportunities in the student hall market. We want to grow the portfolio and increase our exposure”, says Antonio Roncero, Head of Transactions for Spain and Portugal at CBRE GI.

Another milestone in 2017 was the consolidation of the manager in the logistics sector following the joint venture signed with Montepino for the development and promotion of logistics assets. “The initial objective of the investment in the joint venture with Montepino was €300 million, but we hope to exceed that figure soon. With the developments underway, we have 80% of the investments committed”.

Simontalero points out that CBRE already had 700,000 m2 of logistics assets under management and the agreement with Montepino will allow the firm to exceed the 1 million m2 threshold. The logistics sector is thereby becoming the manager’s second segment by volume, accounting for almost 15% of its total assets. “The differentiating feature of this joint venture is that all of the assets are going to be latest generation, which is what the main operators require”, adds Roncero.

Rental homes

In terms of next steps, CBRE GI is preparing to attack a new market, specifically, the residential rental market. “We are analysing various options with different partners, either through the development of new-build properties or by investing in a business through the purchase of portfolios”, say the directors.

For Simontalero, the size of the rental market vs. the purchase market in Spain is going to grow and will move into line with the rest of Europe. “There is latent demand that is not being fully satisfied with the current supply in the market”, he said.

For Roncero, the key is in the service. “We see an opportunity for offering a professionalised service in the rental home segment, providing security to the tenant and placing emphasis on the maintenance of properties”.

Roncero says that the objective of CBRE GI involves gaining “critical mass” in the sectors to which it is least exposed in order “to diversify and be more versatile”.

Sales

In addition to growing its portfolio with new properties, the company is continuing to rotate its assets. Specifically, last year, it sold four shopping centres (two in Spain and two in Portugal), and it is now preparing to sell three more – Gran Casa (Zaragoza), Valle Real (Cantabria) and Max Center (Barakaldo) – whose ownership it shares with Sonae.

“Our business involves identifying investment opportunities, managing them and selling them to generate returns for our investors”, he said.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sareb Sold Almost 5,000 Properties During Q1, Up by 12%

14 May 2018 – Eje Prime

Sareb sold almost 5,000 properties during Q1. During the first three months of the year, the bad bank placed 4,782 units, of which 2,358 corresponded to own properties and 2,424 to loan collateral properties that were transferred from the balance sheet of property developers, according to a statement issued by the company. Compared to the first quarter of 2017, that sales figure represented an increase of 12%.

88% of Sareb’s sales between January and March involved homes, whilst 7% corresponded to the sale of plots of land and the remaining 5% to the sale of commercial assets that the bad bank held relating to the tertiary market.

Similarly, the real estate company has announced the proposal to its General Shareholders’ Meeting to appoint Juan Ignacio Ruiz de Alda as a new board member, as a representative of the Restructuring Fund (Frob). The executive, with experience at Metrovacesa and Banco Santander, amongst other companies, would take over from Lucía Calvo, who left the company in January.

In 2017, Sareb ended the year with a real estate portfolio worth €37,179 million and €3,050 million of repaid debt, meaning that the company had managed to reduce its indebtedness by 25% during its first five years of life.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

INE: Lack of Rental Homes Boosts House Purchases in Canary Islands

12 May 2018 – Canarias 7

During the first quarter of the year, 6,373 homes were sold in the Canary Islands, up by 20% compared to the same period a year earlier, and 8 percentage points higher than the national average. Every day between January and March, 70 homes were sold, 12 more per day than in 2017. Moreover, operations involving new build homes grew by more than those involving second-hand homes for the first time.

The lack of rental homes in the Canary Islands is boosting the volume of house sales in the archipelago above the national average. And that is because buying a flat is the only way of securing a home in certain areas of the archipelago, according to warnings from real estate experts.

Data published on Friday by Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE) confirm the trend in the Canary Islands’ real estate market. During the first quarter of the year, 6,373 homes were sold on the islands, which represented an increase of 20% with respect to the previous year. Every day between January and March, 70 homes were sold, 12 more per day than in 2017.

During Q1 2018, 1,001 more operations were closed in the Canary Islands than during the same quarter last year, according to the Statistics for the Transmission of Property Rights published by INE. At the national level, the increase was half that figure, 12%: between January and March, 128,348 homes were sold in Spain compared to 114,965 a year earlier.

In terms of the type of homes sold in the Canary Islands, for the first time since the outbreak of the crisis, the number of new home sales grew by more than the number of second-hand home sales. Operations involving new builds are fewer in absolute terms but they are growing more rapidly. Between January and March, 1,333 new homes were sold in the Canary Islands, up by 22% compared to the same period in 2017.

Meanwhile, 5,040 second-hand homes were sold, up by 17.8% compared to a year before, according to data from INE.

Price rises

House prices are going to rise by 5% on average this year, i.e. by almost twice the rate they grew by in 2017, according to forecasts from BBVA Research reflected in its magazine, the Real Estate Situation in Spain.

Similarly, the bank’s research department predicts that the volume of operations will reach 570,000 this year, up by 7% compared to 2017. In terms of new home permits, the forecast is that 93,000 will be signed by the end of the year, up by 15% compared to 2017.

In general, the potential demand for housing is expected to grow by between 1 and 1.4 million over the next 10 years, which translates into an annual average of between 95,000 and 135,000 households.

Original story: Canarias 7 (by Silvia Fernández)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sabadell Evaluates the Sale of its RE Arm Solvia

26 April 2018 – Intereconomía

Banco Sabadell is evaluating the sale of Solvia, its real estate subsidiary. There has been no shortage of offers given that Blackstone, Cerberus and Lone Star have all expressed their interest. The value of the company was €900 million in 2015, but that figure could now be higher due to the rise in market prices.

The CEO of Banco Sabadell, Jaime Guardiola, said during the presentation of results for the first quarter, where he announced that Sabadell had earned €259.3 million, up by 32.7%, that the entity has no “vocation” to dedicate itself to the real estate sector, but rather the banking sector, and so “when the time is right and an opportunity arises to create value”, the possibility of divesting Solvia will be assessed.

“Given the current coverage levels and the appetite that exists in the market, it is feasible to analyse an operation of this kind”, said Guardiola, who stressed, however, that “the time has not arrived yet”.

In fact, Banco Sabadell is immersed in a process to sell several portfolios of toxic real estate assets amounting to €10.8 billion in total, which will allow it, if expectations are met, to divest almost all of its problematic real estate inheritance, worth close to €14 billion at the end of 2017.

To remove these toxic assets from its balance sheet, most of which it inherited from Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo (CAM), the entity chaired by Josep Oliu has placed two portfolios of foreclosed assets on the market worth €7.5 billion.

Those portfolios join two others launched at the beginning of the year, worth €3.3 billion (one worth €900 million and the other worth €2.4 billion), and so Banco Sabadell is already sounding out the market to place packages worth €10.8 billion in total.

Jaime Guardiola, meanwhile, considers that the Spanish mortgage business “is very healthy” and that the delinquency levels “have been very well managed”. He adds that the new pipeline is being carried out in an optimal way, and so he rules out the possibility of the mistakes of the past that triggered the crisis being made again.

Original story: Intereconomía

Translation: Carmel Drake

Lucas Fox: Luxury House Prices Rose by 18% in Q1

23 April 2018 – Eje Prime

Luxury homes in Spain are becoming increasingly more expensive. The luxury residential market saw the value of prime homes increase by 18% during the first quarter of this year. The average price paid during the 3 months to March for these kinds of properties amounted to €924,000, significantly more than the €780,000 recorded by this exclusive branch of the segment during the same period last year, according to data from Lucas Fox.

The strong performance of the Spanish economy in recent times is once again stimulating demand from domestic and overseas investors to purchase homes in the country, above all along the coast and in the major cities.

According to the report from the real estate agency specialising in luxury homes, Marbella and Sitges are the most prime area of this market, and they are monopolising business along the coastlines on which they are located, the Costa del Sol and Costa Brava, respectively.

In the case of Marbella, the city accounted for 67% of the sales that were completed in the region, whilst on the most southerly coast of Cataluña, Sitges accounted for half of all the business on the Costa Brava. “We saw a tremendous rate of growth in sales in Girona and its coastline during the first quarter of 2018”, said Tom Maidment, Director of Lucas Fox Prime.

Foreign investors account for 13% of the prime market  

“International buyers of second homes have been more active, with a notable increase in the number of British buyers”, explained Maidment. In this regard, the director added that “confidence in the market and in the Spanish economy has been consolidated and concerns over Catalan independence have disappeared”.

In total, in 2017, 13% of the purchases undertaken in the luxury residential sector in Spain were made by overseas investors, who acquired 61,000 homes, almost as many as the 65,000 properties bought by foreigners in 2007.

By nationality, the British were the most active buyers, accounting for 15% of the sales made by foreigners, followed by the French, 8.6%; and the Germans, which accounted for 7.8% of the acquisitions of this type of luxury real estate by foreigners.

In the case of Lucas Fox, 77% of the operations that the agency closed during the first quarter of the year related to international clients, most of whom came from the United Kingdom, but also from neighbouring France, the Scandinavian countries and the USA.

Original story: Eje Prime 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sareb Makes an Extraordinary Debt Repayment of €889M

13 April 2018 – Eje Prime

Sareb is continuing to reduce its debt. The Company for the Management of Assets proceeding from the Restructuring of the Banking System is going to make an extraordinary debt repayment amounting to €889 million, according to a statement issued by the company.

Sareb’s Board of Directors has approved the operation, which is going to be carried out using net cash generated by the business. During its first five years of life, the so-called bad bank has repaid debt amounting to €12,906 million.

When the company was constituted in 2012, it issued debt amounting to around €50,800 million, secured by the Treasury, so as to be able to acquire real estate assets from the nine Spanish banks that received public aid.

To date, Sareb’s debt has been reduced by 25% to stand at €37,875 million. The good performance of the company’s business, which has recorded revenues of €20,700 million during its five-year life, has helped to repay this debt. The entity has reduced its portfolio of assets by €13,602 million, which represents a decrease of 27%.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Axis: Spain’s Banks Will Divest At Least €40bn of Their Problem RE Assets This Year

30 March 2018 – El Mundo

Spain’s banks are still trying to lighten their balance sheets of the huge load left on them by the real estate crisis. Forecasts for this year indicate that they will manage to divest assets worth at least €40 billion including properties, foreclosed land and defaulted and non-performing loans.

Those are the estimates made by the consultancy firm Axis Corporate on the basis of operations that are currently being sounded out in the Spanish real estate sector. The figure includes transactions worth at least €9 billion by Sareb, sales of around €6 billion by Bankia and operations by CaixaBank and Banco Sabadell with a volume of close to €12 billion each. “To all of these operations, we have to add the retail operations that the servicers are currently undertaking”, explains José Masip, Real Estate Partner at Axis Corporate and coordinator of the Assets Under Management Observatory Report published recently by the company.

In 2017, sales of toxic assets linked to real estate exceeded €50 billion, “almost twice the €27.4 billion sold between 2012 and 2016”, says the report. Spanish entities are accelerating the clean up of this type of asset from their balance sheets to reduce their default rates and fulfil the European regulations that force entities to reduce the weight of non-performing assets to pre-crisis levels. Despite that and according to data from the consultancy firm JLL, the volume of non-performing assets with real estate collateral in the hands of the banks and Sareb amounts to around €200 billion: €80 billion in REOs (foreclosed assets) and €120 billion in NPLs (Non Performing Loans or doubtful credits).

Greater weight of funds

Both firms predict that the rate of sales seen last year will continue in 2018, above all due to the growing interest from international investment funds (…).

The main investment funds focused on the purchase of real estate assets in Spain are Bain Capital, Oaktree, EOS Spain, Apollo and Axactor, who are following in the footsteps of others such as Blackstone and Cerberus.

The latter two entities starred in the two most important operations of last year. In July, Santander sold a portfolio comprising 51% of the toxic property it had inherited following the purchase of Banco Popular to Blackstone in an operation worth €5.1 billion; meanwhile, in November, BBVA sold 80% of its real estate portfolio to Cerberus for around €4 billion. In a similar operation, also in 2017, Liberbank sold part of its toxic portfolio to the funds Bain and Oceanwood for €602 million.

The transactions were structured through the creation of joint ventures in all cases, in which the bank held a minority percentage of the company or servicer and the acquiring fund took over the bulk of the management. According to Emilio Portes, Director of the Portfolio Business at JLL for Southern Europe, “the structure offers entities a stake in the profits of the assets with upside potential at the same time as cleaning up their balance sheets and slightly improving their capital ratios. Similarly, it offers buyers more advantageous prices without limiting their strategy and management capacity”.

Indeed, in Axis’s opinion, those servicers are expected to be some of the main players in the market over the short and medium term. According to data from the consultancy firm, more than 80% of the assets under management are in the hands of five of them: Altamira (linked to Santander), Servihabitat (CaixaBank), Haya/Anida (controlled by Cerberus after the operation with BBVA), Aliseda/Anticipa (Blackstone) and Solvia (Sabadell). The outlook for this year points to greater concentration in the sector, “with the possible sale of some of the existing servicers”, in such a way that their specialisation and differentiation will be definitive.

Original story: El Mundo (by María Hernández)

Translation: Carmel Drake