Sonae Sierra & CBRE GI Put the ‘Max Center de Barakaldo’ Shopping Complex Up For Sale

10 February 2018 – El Correo

Bizkaia is preparing for a major commercial and real estate revolution. Sonae Sierra, the multinational owner of the Max Center shopping complex in Barakaldo has put the property up for sale, 15 years after acquiring it from ING Real Estate. The property was opened in 1994 and was extended in 2002 with the addition of the adjoining Max Ocio building. The latest transaction forms part of a national macro-operation, given that the portfolio up for sale also includes two other large complexes: the Gran Casa de Zaragoza and the Valle Real de Santander.

The company, together with its partner CBRE Global Investors, with whom it jointly shares the ownership of the three large shopping centres, calculates that it will receive proceeds of around €500 million from the sale, according to sources in the sector. Spokespeople for Sonae avoided providing further details about the operation to this newspaper on Thursday. They announced that they only discuss “closed” operations and that the installations in Kareaga, which have an approximate surface area of 60,000 m2 “are still operating in a normal way”.

Nevertheless, the negotiations have been underway for several months. Although they are satisfied with the progress of the business, which is enjoying growing sales and which seems to have left behind the worst years of the crisis, the current owners are looking to generate revenues from the sale of these assets to invest in other projects in different parts of Spain. Sonae Sierra, which is controlled by Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster and the richest man in the United Kingdom, has a presence in seven countries with 46 buildings worth almost €7 billion. It is currently working alongside the British operator McArthurGlen on the imminent opening of a luxury outlet in the Plaza Mayor de Málaga complex, which will involve a disbursement of €140 million.

The company is looking to take advantage of the current times in the Spanish real estate market, which are being characterised by a great deal of interest from funds and overseas companies. Last year, investment in the retail sector rose in a spectacular fashion – by 31% – to reach €3.9 billion. If this latest sale goes ahead, the owners of the Max Center, which is home to 133 stores, as well as a sizeable restaurant and leisure area, would complete their second divestment process in Bizkaia in two years.

At the beginning of 2016, they sold the Zubiarte de Bilbao complex to Activum SG Iberia Fund for €150 million (…).

Modernisation of its roof

Now, all eyes are focused on the Max Center, which has just invested €3.5 million on the modernisation of its roof. Nevertheless, the improvements are not going to stop there, given that the complex is soon going to be subjected to a complete renovation. The changes undertaken in recent months to renew the roof of the building, which houses a parking lot, included the resurfacing of the surface area and its signage, as well as improvements to the lighting and security in the parking area.

In addition to the successive renovation projects, the Max Center has also improved its sustainable profile with several actions aimed at reducing water consumption, improving energy efficiency and increasing recycling rates. Together with these interventions, management has been working on an intense campaign to increase the commercial offering and renew the trust of its customers who are being offered increasingly more choice by nearby competitors, such as Megapark and Ballonti (Portugalete). Some of the new brands that have chosen the Max Center and are about to open stores there include Pablosky, Indie&Soul, San Carlos, Trendie, Loop&Coffe and Burger King. Meanwhile, other stores, which are already established, such as the footwear shop Foot Locker, have undergone major renovations.

Original story: El Correo (by Luis Gómez)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Tinsa: House Prices Rise By Most In Madrid & Barcelona

18 July 2016 – Expansión

The Balearic and Canary Islands are featuring in the housing recovery, but Madrid and Barcelona are leading the way; there, the number of transactions has picked up pace and prices are growing strongly once again. Most of these increases are due to the economic recovery, but the savings factor is also playing a major part.

In fact, the influence of private investors is still playing a crucial role in the strengthening of the two major real estate regions, whose central districts are the most sought-after by companies and individuals, both Spanish and foreign.

It is precisely the influence of these investors that boosted property prices in both capitals in the first place, firing the starting gun for the reactivation of the sector, as they committed to the prime areas before anyone else. These central districts, which are well-connected and offer good services, used to offer a certain degree of security for investors, and a great deal of potential for appreciation, even when everyone in the market was still searching for land.

Both cities were amongst the leaders of the increase in house prices during the second quarter of the year, according to data from the appraisal company Tinsa, published recently. Nevertheless, these increases were concentrated in some of the most expensive areas, as shown by the analysis by district of the local markets. Specifically, many of the neighbourhoods where prices stand at around €3,000/sqm in Madrid and Barcelona are also those where prices have risen by the most in the last year, whereas prices in those neighbourhoods that fall below the average have grown more moderately.

For example, prices in the Madrilenian neighbourhood of Salamanca have risen by 9.8% in the last year, whilst in Chamberí they have increased by 8.9%. Meanwhile, in Barcelona, the following districts stand out: Gràcia (where prices have risen by 12.7%), El Eixample (10.9%) and Les Corts (8.1%). These statistics show that the prime areas are recovering better than the rest. They are central, well-connected areas with very solvent demand, where returns are high and there is significant retail activity, which means they have significant potential for appreciation both for those buying to invest as well as those looking to put their properties up for rent. As with everything, there are notable exceptions, such as the Retiro area in Madrid and Sarrià-Sant Gervasi in Barcelona, which are increasing by below the average.

Other areas

Nevertheless, the real estate expert José Luis Ruiz Bartolomé indicates that the real estate market has now entered a new phase, in which the recovery is spreading to more and more areas. “Before, properties were only being sold in the best districts, but now the increases have spread to the most popular areas, as supply is limited and there are increasingly more buyers looking for homes to live in, rather than to buy as investments”, he explains.

For this reason, the most popular neighbourhoods have become more attractive with the recovery of the labour market and the opening of the bank financing tap. In this way, house prices in the Madrilenian neighbourhood of San Blas have risen by 9.9%, making it the second highest price rise district in the capital; meanwhile, Sant Andreu is also boosting prices in Cataluña, with an increase of 8.2%. Similarly, prices in all of the districts of Madrid that cost less than €2,000/sqm have increased by more than the average, with the exception of Villaverde, the cheapest of all, where prices have remained stable. Something similar is happening in Barcelona where the most popular areas, such as Nou Barris and Sants-Montjuïc, also grew by more than average. (…).

Moreover, Tasaciones CBRE indicates that the profile of investments funds “has evolved rapidly from being opportunistic to value-added, choosing instead to back development, the renovation of properties and, given that they have perceived the potential for refurbishments, they will gradually start managing plots of land in urban areas, with the aim of obtaining higher returns”. With this, the increase in demand and prices will increasingly move to more remote areas. (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Pablo Cerezal)

Translation: Carmel Drake