CBRE To Invest €600M In The Spanish Market In 2015

16 March 2015 – Expansión

Real estate assets / The former subsidiary of ING is looking to improve its portfolio through refurbishments and asset purchases.

After more than two decades in the market, the fund manager CBRE Global Investors has become a major player in the Spanish real estate sector thanks to its intense asset rotation policy.

The company, which manages property in this market (primarily shopping centres) worth €2,000 million, closed the sale of various assets last year: Urbil, in Guipúzcoa, which it sold to Axa Reim for €60 million; Alcalá Magna, in Madrid, which it sold to Incus Capital for €85 million; Gran Vía de Vigo, which it sold to the US fund Oaktree for €100 million and Modoo, in Asturias, which it sold for €45 million.

In 2013, CBRE Global Investors was involved in the first major sale of a shopping centre following the outbreak of the crisis, when it sold Parque Principado in Asturias for €141.5 million to the British real estate company Intu Properties. “Between 2008 and 2014, we rotated the portfolio we had created during the previous two decades. Thus, we sold Parque Principado, which was a mature asset, but we purchased other assets. In total, we bought and sold assets worth €1,000 million last year”, explains José Antonio Martin-Borregón, CEO at CBRE Global Investors in Spain and Portugal.

The (property) management company made its first investments in Spain between 1992 and 1993 and three years later, it opened its first offices. Through its five funds, it currently manages 19 shopping centres, including Bilbondo in Bilbao; Vallereal in Maliaño (Cantabria) and Parc Central, in Tarragona. “We started out as the investment vehicle for National Nederlanden, which wanted to invest in properties outside of Holland that were not for its own use. We have maintained this philosophy for 20 years. Our traditional clients are institutional investors”. The latest addition to the portfolio was La Zenia in Alicante, which was acquired using money from the Alaska pension fund.


The goal of the Head of CBRE Global Investors is to repeat the transaction volume (recorded last year) during 2015 but with a greater focus on purchases. “We would like to close transactions amounting to €1,000 million this year with a 60:40 split in terms of purchases and sales”, he says. “We have a portfolio of mature assets and therefore we are interested in buying properties that we can add value to”.

In total, the (property) manager expects to invest €930 million in Spain and Portugal. “Demand exceeds supply, which means that prices have increased and new rules are in play. It is not going to be as easy (as it once was) to target successful investments”.

Nevertheless, the Head of CBRE GI does not fear competition from the multitude of investors and institutional funds that have arrived in the Spanish market attracted by the decrease in real estate prices and the expected economic recovery. “As a (property) manager, we try to maximise the opportunities that the market offers, leveraging on our competitive advantage, which is our local knowledge”, says Martín-Borregón. “As a (property) manager, we have more access to capital, which allows us to move (more) quickly to close transactions”, he adds.

The (property) manager is also considering investments in premises (shops/stores) on the street and in strengthening its logistics platforms (it already owns 15). “We will buy logistics assets in new areas and we will sell old warehouses”, he explains.

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Intu Will Invest €425m In Its Shopping Centre In Málaga

2 March 2015 – Expansión

The British company Intu Properties confirmed yesterday that it plans to invest €425 million in the construction of a new shopping centre in Málaga, as part of its plan to create a large network of leisure and retail complexes in Spain.

In March, as a preliminary step, the group is going to ask its shareholders to approve the purchase of land close to Torremolinos for €42.1 million, where it will build the centre, which will have a gross leasable area of 175,000 square metres. The shopping centre is expected to open in 2018.

Since 2013, Intu has acquired two operational shopping centres in Spain: Parque Principado (in which the Canadian fund CPPIB holds a 50% stake) in Asturias, for €162 million and Puerto Venecia, in Zaragoza, for €451 million.

As well as the project in Málaga, the company is also considering developing centres in Valencia, Vigo and Palma de Mallorca. It expects to make its largest investment in the Oceania de Valencia complex, which could amount to €750 million.

In its results for 2014, Intu increased the valuation of its 50% stake in Parque Principiado from €81 million to €106 million. The firm is now looking for a financial partner for Puerto Venecia.

Original story: Expansión (by Roberto Casado)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Hispania And Barceló Create A Resort Hotel Socimi

25 February 2015 – Hispania Press Release

Hispania and Barceló create a resort hotel Socimi (REIT) with 16 hotels and an initial targeted investment of 421 million euro.

The first investment will be the acquisition of 3,946 keys (11 hotels and 1 shopping centre) plus the option to acquire additional assets reaching more than 6,000 keys (16 hotels) and 2 shopping centres currently owned by Grupo Barceló

Hispania will invest 339 million euro for an 80.5% stake in the new company, which will become a subsidiary of Hispania

The new REIT will be the first hotel REIT exclusively focused on holiday resort, targeting a minimum of 12,000 keys in Spain

Hispania Activos Inmobiliarios, S.A. has communicated to the Spanish Stock Market Regulator, CNMV, that its subsidiary Hispania Real SOCIMI, S.A.U, (hereinafter “Hispania”) has signed an agreement with Grupo Barceló (hereinafter, Barceló) for the creation of the first hotel REIT focused on the holiday resort segment; an industry in which Spain is one of the leaders worldwide.

Part of this agreement includes the acquisition by Hispania in an initial phase of 11 hotels (3,946 keys) and 1 shopping centre. Later on, Hispania will have the option to acquire 5 additional hotels (2,151 keys) along with a second shopping centre. The agreement is subject to the successful completion of the due diligence process.

Once the transaction is completed and the option on the 5 additional hotels executed, Hispania will have invested 339 million euro, obtaining an 80.5% stake in the new REIT. Grupo Barceló will maintain 19.5% with the option to reach up to 49% through future capital increases.

Barceló will remain as the operator of the acquired hotels through lease contracts with an initial term of 15 years.

The valuation of the 16 hotels and 2 shopping centres amounts to 421 million euro. It is expected that the REIT, following the execution of the option, will have an initial equity of 187 million euro and a syndicated loan amounting to 234 million euro. Hispania’s capital contribution will amount to a maximum amount of 151 million euro (total attributable investment of 339 million euro).

The initial asset portfolio will have pro forma rental income of approximately 45 million euro (40 million euro pro forma 2014).

The Barceló assets included in this agreement comprise most of its resort portfolio in Spain, located in the Canary Islands, Andalusia and the Balearic Islands; touristic destinations which have had a strong performance during the last few years and are expected to continue consolidating their position in the future. Out of the 16 hotels, more than 90% of the rooms available are 4* category and are leaders in their respective influence areas.

Hispania and Barceló have agreed to invest together an additional 35 million euro in the short term in order to complete the repositioning and updating of some of the properties.

“Spain is the third most important touristic destination in the world, preceded only by France and the United States”, commented Concha Osácar, Board Member of Hispania. “Spain has almost twice the number of resort keys than the United States, as well as a well-diversified tourist base, with British, German and French visitors representing more than 50% of the total. This illustrates the opportunities which the industry offers in Spain”.

The agreement signed between Hispania and Barceló will allow them to start an ambitious plan focused on increasing the portfolio of the new REIT, through hotel acquisitions or incorporations of existing hotels. The purpose is at least, to duplicate the size of the initial portfolio, creating a Spanish resort portfolio managed by different leading hotel operators.

According to Concha Osácar, “our objective and that of our partner Barceló, is that the new entity becomes the first listed REIT focused solely on hotel resorts, with a diversified portfolio in terms of hotel operators, and a steady income base, through lease contracts with a strong fixed income component and enough exposure to the future increase of the Spanish tourism market. The objective of the new REIT for Hispania and Barceló, is to become an instrument with which to attract institutional capital for the Spanish hotel industry, creating new sources of capital for the hotel industry”.

From Barceló’s perspective, “as a result of this transaction, we are creating a solid alliance with one of the most active investors in the industry”. According to Barceló’s CEO, Raúl González, “after this transaction we will be in leading position to benefit from the concentration process that should take place in the Spanish hotel industry”.

Hispania has invested a total of 112 million euros, including capex for 2015, in 6 hotels (5 acquired in 2014 and 1 in 2015) managed by different hotel operators (Meliá, NH and Vincci), which could be included into the new REIT; this decision will be made by the partners during the second half of 2015.

Hispania will have invested 100% of the net proceeds raised

With this agreement, Hispania will have committed a total investment of c. 800 million euros in a total of 44 assets since its IPO on 14 March 2014.

Original press release: Hispania

Edited by: Carmel Drake

Student Halls In Spain: A Wise Alternative Investment?

17 February 2015 – Idealista

When we talk about real estate investment in Spain, we tend to mean the purchase of offices, hotels and shopping centres. Nevertheless, there is another type of property that may also generate high returns: student halls of residences. However, unlike in other European countries, this accommodation does not totally convince investors looking for assets in Spain. The lack of companies that know how to optimise them, and the shortage of the ideal product are some of the reasons why no transactions are being closed in this segment, despite considerable interest.

Spain had around 1.41 million students enrolled in universities during the academic year 2013-2014, according to the Ministry for Education, Culture and Sport. That is, a little over 3% of the Spanish population were university students. This percentage places Spain ahead of other countries such as Germany and France. The majority of these students (77%) studied courses in their home province, but 20% moved to another province to study and around 3% were from overseas.

Delving more deeply into their lifestyle: approximately 64% of university students live at home with their parents or other family members. At the other extreme, those who live away from home only have two options: rent (either in a shared house or on their own) or live in halls of residence. Specifically, only 2.8% choose to stay there.

In the opinion of the experts consulted, these figures are justified by the “very low” availability of public university halls. “Although there are significant cultural differences, certain aspects indicate that the market for university halls of residence in Spain will have to converge with that of the rest of Europe”, says a report published by JLL.

The consultancy firm is convinced by its analysis that the implementation of the Bologna education reforms will promote cross-border studying between European universities, “which tend to have much high percentages of students living in halls”. In Spain, it is normal for students to opt for this type of accommodation during the first and second years only.

“The flow of students travelling to study in other countries will increase over the coming years and not only in relation to Erasmus placements”, says Patricio Palomar, Director of Office Advisory and Alternative Investment at CBRE. In his opinion, issues such as the language (Spanish), the lifestyle and the affordable prices in comparison with neighbouring countries, are just a few of the attractions that draw many foreign students to choose Spain as their destination.

The main drawbacks

Unnim, the entity created from the merger of Cajas de Manlleu, Sabadell and Terrassa, is active in this market. The bank, which was acquired by BBVA in 2011, inherited this line of business from Caixa Terrassa. The former caja constructed its first hall of residence on the Avenida Parallel, 101, in the Poble Sec neighbourhood of Barcelona back in 2007.

According to the latest data available for Unnim, this business line generated a return of 7%. Sources in the sector explain that the net return on these types of assets can reach 10%, well above the rates offered by offices, hotels and shopping centres. In countries such as the UK and USA, this business generates returns of between 11% and 15%.

Juan Manuel Ortega, Director of Investment Offices at JLL, recognises that British firms are over-valuing these types of assets in Spain. These investors are looking for halls of residences that are larger than 5,000 m2 and that have between 60 and 150 rooms. Palomar also acknowledges this trend “the same funds that operate in the UK for example are looking (for opportunities) in Spain. The problem is that the same product is not available in other countries”.

Palomar maintains that student halls in Spain are obsolete and that many of them are stuck in the 1960s. That does not happen in cities such as Amsterdam where student accommodation is modern, hotel-like and less than 10 years old.

Another one of the pitfalls that affects this business is the ownership of these spaces. Most belong to the public universities, many of which have serious financial problems and cannot afford to finance the investment needed to optimise the assets. At the same time, they cannot sell the land and allow private companies to enter the sector.

This has a very direct effect on competition; it is low, which does not lead to an improvement in the facilities either. Similarly, experts recognise that the administration of these complexes is not simple, they require professional management.

Nevertheless, Palomar states that new student halls of residence are appearing in the outskirts of cities and near private business schools. “I think Spain should focus on other kinds of tourism, beyond the holiday market; educational and health tourism (have significant potential)”.

A trickle of transactions

The lethargy in this market is such that transactions are very scarce. The last known deal involved the purchase of the Galdós halls of residence in Madrid in 2012. The British firm, Knightsbridge Student Housing paid €20 million for the property, it was the first acquisition made by the company outside of the UK. Knightsbridge Student Housing was created in 2010 with the backing of Oaktree Capital Management.

Another of the most talked about transactions involved Lazora (Concha Osácar) when it acquired the Resa Group in 2011. Resa was created in 1994 and currently manages more than 8,000 beds in 32 halls of residence. The construction company Acciona also has give halls of residence (in Albacete, Cádiz, Castellón, Lleida and Murcia), which it has tried to sell in the past.

Further proof that this branch of real estate activity in Spain is still light years away from what is happening in other countries, is that Socimis dedicated to student accommodation already exist overseas. In 2013, GCP Student Living constituted the first REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) in the UK.

Original story: Idealista (by Estefania Fonseca)

Intu’s €2,500m Plan To Dominate The Retail Sector In Spain

16 February 2015 – Expansión

The group Intu Properties is completing the exercise of its call option over a real estate project in Málaga, as part of a €2,500 million investment program launched by the British company to become the leading shopping centre operator in Spain.

The developer, which last year spent €613 million on the acquisition of Parque Principado (Asturias) and Puerto Venecia (Zaragoza) expects to hand over €41 million to the Peel Group for the purchase of a plot of land near Torremolinos, which has a licence for the construction of a retail and leisure complex measuring 175,000 square metres. According to the company, subsequent investment in this development, which will take three years to construct, will amount to €250 million.

In addition, Intu is considering other options to develop shopping centres in Vigo, Valencia and Mallorca. “Our objective is to become the market leader in the ownership, development and management of large regional (shopping) centres across Spain”, said the group. It is looking to replicate its model in the UK, where it operates 18 retail complexes all over the country.

HSBC estimates that the six shopping centres that Intu now owns or plans to acquire in Spain represent a total outlay of €2,500 million; the bank financed €320 million of the acquisitions in Asturias and Zaragoza. Stephen Bramley-Jackson, an analyst at the entity, said that “Intu’s real estate portfolio in Spain has the capacity to equal that of the current market leader for this type of property, Unibail-Rodamco, in terms of total investment”.

The Franco-Dutch group now has 16 (shopping) centres in Spain, after it sold the ones it owned in Albacete and Torrevieja last year. The average size of their shopping centres is smaller than those of Intu, which seeks to focus its investment in complexes measuring more than 100,000 square metres. In 2014, Unibail-Rodamco generated revenues of €147.1 million from the rental of its Spanish properties. Rental income from Parque Principado and Puerto Venecia amounted to €28.6 million.

The two other major players in this sector are Klepierre and Corio, which have invested around €500 million in shopping centres in Spain in recent years.

To maintain its role as market leader, Unibail-Rodamco has invested €600 million in several projects: it plans to expand two centres in Barcelona and construct two new centres in Palma de Mallorca and Benidorm. However, the firm has put the brakes on the development of the Oceania centre in Valencia.

Unibail and Intu seem set to share the market without competing directly in the same geographical areas. Intu, for example, has not yet launched any projects in Madrid or Barcelona, whereas its rival has a significant number of properties there. Meanwhile, Unibail does not have any centres in Asturias, Zaragoza, Malaga or Galicia. The slow down in the development of Oceania leaves the way open for Intu to develop its gigantic Puerto Mediterráneo centre, measuring 300,000 square metres in the Valencian town of Paterna. The two companies have parallel plans in Mallorca only, although Unibail’s Palma Springs centre is more advanced and looks set to open at the end of 2016.

According to Intu, the opportunity that it sees in Spain to launch new projects is focused on the regions “where ownership of shopping centres is fragmented and there is not currently a dominant destination for retail and leisure”.

With a market value of GBP 4,800 million (€6,480 million) and debt amounting to GBP 4,000 million, according to analysts at Investec, the British company is looking for partners for its Spanish ventures. The pension fund manager Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board acquired 50% of Parque Principado and may participate in other projects, according to HSBC. In addition, Intu Properties is evaluating the possibility of publicly listing its Spanish subsidiary or some of its (shopping) centres to secure foreign capital.

Some analysts wonder whether Intu has arrived too late in Spain, given that property prices are already recovering. The expected rental yield at Puerto Venecia (acquired in December 2014) is 5%, compared with 7.2% for Parque Principado, which was purchased in October 2013.

In terms of the next steps, Intu’s shareholders must approve the group’s purchase of the project in Malaga.

Original story: Expansión (by Roberto Casado)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Carlton Group: Spain’s Real Estate Sector Records 2nd Best Year In A Decade

16 February 2015 – Property Funds World

Spain’s commercial real estate investment sector rose to approximately EUR9 billion in 2014, exceeding the most optimistic forecasts,  according to a new report by The Carlton Group.

2014 was the second best year within the last decade in terms of volume for Spanish commercial real estate investment, (surpassed only by 2007 when the value of each asset was significantly higher), the report said.

“Spain has once again become a relevant destination for real estate investors and the positive trend is expected to continue over the next few years,” says Javier Beltran, Managing Director of Carlton Iberia (Spain and Portugal) and head of Carlton’s Madrid office.

The report cites the “unparalleled arrival” of a very large number of international institutional and “off radar” investors from Asia, Middle East, Latin America, North America and Europe, along with the new Socimi, the Spanish REITs, that have contributed to the increased volume and value of commercial real estate transactions in Spain.

In 2014, the most desired Spanish assets for investors were prime office buildings and shopping centers, (two of the largest shopping centers in Spain were transacted during 2014), along with hotel, logistic and car park sectors, the Carlton report said.

Many investors have also started to buy “well located land development sites”  in Madrid, Barcelona and Spain’s Southern coast. This has contributed to an increase in construction activity that is also expected to rise in coming years.

The report points to the increased number of international investors, the general improvement of the Spanish economy, along with the renewed interest in Spanish banks’ lending capacity as contributing factors to a revaluation of real estate assets that is expected to continue during the next few years.

It also attributes a very robust hospitality investment market to the record number of international visitors coming to Barcelona, Balearic and Canary Islands, Madrid, Marbella, Valencia and Alicante over the last two years.

Prices in the Spanish residential market are stabilising and have shown slight increases in some areas of main cities, with the trend expected to increase price and activity, the Carlton report said.

The report concludes that Spanish real estate markets are “becoming more professional and international and all that is very good news,” says Carlton’s Beltran.

Original story: Property Funds World

Edited by: Carmel Drake

CNMC Authorises Santander’s Purchase Of Bankia’s 19% Stake In Metrovacesa

13 February 2015 – Expansión

With this purchase, Santander will assume ownership of 55.8% of the share capital, whereby taking control of the real estate company.

Santander has received authorisation from the National Markets and Competition Commission (Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia or CNMC) to purchase Bankia’s 19% stake in Metrovacesa and whereby assume control of the property company, by taking ownership of 55.8% of its share capital.

The ‘super regulator’ has authorised the first phase of the operation, which is not deemed to generate any competition concerns, according to the records of the body.

At the beginning of December, Santander agreed to buy the 19% stake that Bankia, the nationalised bank, holds in Metrovacesa for €100 million.

Thus, by virtue of the transaction, the bank chaired by Ana Patricia Botín takes control of the real estate company and Bankia fulfils a new milestone in its plan to divest its industrial holdings, and also records a profit of €13 million as a result.

After Santander, the other shareholders in Metrovacesa are BBVA, with an 18.3% stake, Banco Sabadell (13%) and Banco Popular (12.6%).

The Sanahuja family

The company has been controlled by the aforementioned financial institutions since February 2009, when they foreclosed the debt held by the Sanahuja family, the then controlling shareholder of the company.

For Metrovacesa, which was delisted from the stock exchange in May 2013, the takeover by Santander represents a new phase in its share ownership.

The real estate company, which was once controlled by BBVA, was acquired from that entity in 2004 through a takeover bid (oferta pública de adquisición or OPA) by Bami, the company owned by Joaquín Rivero. Subsequently, the company was the subject of a ‘takeover war’ between the businessman and the Sanahuja family, but eventually the banks took control.

Metrovacesa is dedicated to the rental of real estate assets. Its portfolio includes buildings covering more than 1.1 million square metres, comprising offices, shopping centres and hotels, which are mainly located in Madrid and Barcelona. Amongst others, it is the owner of the iconic Torre Madrid in Plaza de España in Madrid, which will soon house a hotel to be operated by the Barceló chain.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Investment In Property Returns To Pre-Crisis Levels

11 January 2015 – Expansión

According to the consultancy BNP Paribas Real Estate, investment in real estate assets amounted to €6,950 million in 2014, the second highest annual figure ever in Spain’s history.

The purchase of offices, hotels, commercial assets, warehouses and homes increased by 85% last year, building on the rise of 110% recorded in 2013. The figure recorded in 2014 has only been surpassed once, in 2007, when €9,000 million was invested.

By asset type, shops and above all, shopping centres, led the purchases closed in 2014 with transactions amounting to €2,367 million, i.e. 46% more than in 2013. Investment in offices exceeded €2,230 million and increased by 247%, compared with an increase of 89% in hotel acquisitions.

The types of property that best represent the reactivation of the Spanish market are warehouses and logistics platforms; investment in those assets grew by more than 406% during the year, according to BNP Paribas.

According to the consultancy, these very positive figures are set to continue in 2015. “This year will witness the closing of new transactions in the office and logistics segments. Transactions involving shopping centres will be more scarce than in 2014”, explains the consultancy.

By buyer type, the experts at BNP Paribas believe that, now that the Socimis have invested around €2,000 million in the real estate sector, this year acquisitions will be made by investors looking for “more consolidated assets, at higher prices, with a view to holding the properties for five years or more, that have no intention of selling them in the short term”, explains Francisco Machón, Investment Director at BNP Paribas Real Estate.

Original story: Expansión (by R. Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Recovery Has Investors Stocking Up On Spanish Malls

11 February 2015 – WSJ

The Spanish shopping experience is getting a multibillion-dollar makeover as the nation’s economy improves and foreign investment flows in.

After a year of tepid recovery from recession, consumer spending is picking up. Retail sales rose 1.9% in November from the same month in 2013, the fourth consecutive monthly increase, after six years of decline. Although nearly a quarter of the workforce remains unemployed, the economy is expected to expand by 1.7% this year, compared with 1.1% in the euro area as a whole, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

That, in turn, is helping to fuel investment in the retail property sector. In all, investment in retail real estate totalled €3.34 billion ($3.78 billion) in 2014, nearly triple the amount of the previous year and topping the record of €3.1 billion in 2006, according to property consultant JLL, formerly known as Jones Lang LaSalle. At least 67% of investments came from outside Spain. There was more investment in retail than in any other class of commercial real estate over the past year, according to JLL.

International investors are expected to pump more money into retail properties this year, including new construction, according to Adolfo Ramirez Escudero, president of property consultant CBRE Group Inc. in Spain.

Much of the money will go toward large-scale projects that mix shopping and entertainment, known as retail resorts, as well as outdoor outlet malls that resemble small cities where shoppers can find discounted designer brands.

Developers see opportunities for strong returns because prices of land and buildings are still depressed six years after the financial crisis. With the prices of many commodities at relatively lower levels and Spain’s unemployment so high, builders can also construct projects at a reduced cost. Meanwhile, the number of tourists to Spain is at a record, bringing with them money to spend.

The entrance of big global investors is a sign that the Spanish market is stabilizing, said Pedro de Churruca, general director of JLL in Spain.

“People are clearly coming back to shopping centers as a consequence of higher disposable income,” said Ismael Clemente of Merlin Properties Socimi SA, Spain’s largest real-estate investment trust, which in July purchased Marineda City shopping center in La Coruña from a local developer for €260 million. The three-year-old retail complex is the second-largest in the country.

The shopping center opened “in probably the worst possible moment in Spain,” said Mr. Clemente, referring to Spain’s economic doldrums. “We saw that there was a clear upward movement expected in rent, so we thought it was an interesting bet.”

The U.K.’s Intu Properties PLC purchased Spain’s largest shopping center, Puerto Venecia in Zaragoza, for €451 million in December. The British real-estate investment trust also announced a partnership with Spanish developer Eurofund to build four more retail resorts in Spanish cities as part of a plan to invest £1.2 billion ($1.8 billion) over 10 years.

Construction on the first of these projects, Intu Costa del Sol in the Malaga suburb of Torremolinos, —is scheduled to begin in the second half of 2015 and be completed by 2018. The 1.9-million-square-foot development will include amenities Intu is known for: a minitheme park, a surf lake, artificial ski slopes and a gourmet market, as well as shops and restaurants of high-end chains.

Intu owns 18 U.K. shopping centers, but Spain is the company’s first international market, which it entered in 2013 with the purchase of Parque Principado shopping center in Oviedo.

“We’re keen to keep growing, and if we focus on the prime, best shopping centers in the market, there are few opportunities in the U.K.,” said Martin Breeden, regional director of Intu. “Spain is a market that seemed open to international investment and where, frankly, there are not a lot of good shopping resorts in existence.”

Intu has purchase options on land for similar developments in Valencia, Vigo and Palma de Mallorca.

The Intu Costa del Sol site is about 3 miles from Malaga’s most-visited shopping center, Plaza Mayor, which opened in 2002. Sonae Sierra of Portugal, which owns and manages Plaza Mayor, has joined with U.K.-based McArthurGlen Group and U.S.-based Simon Property Group Inc. to expand the 572,400-square-foot shopping area to include a designer outlet mall. The €115 million development will add 324,000 square feet of leasable area and be the first large-scale outlet mall in Andalusia. Construction is scheduled to begin in the second half of this year, and the first phase is set to open in 2017.

Joan Jove, McArthurGlen’s regional development director, said Plaza Mayor is a “very strong, established retail scheme” and the planned adjacent outlet mall will be one-of-a-kind in the region. Mr. Jove said the project is mainly targeted at the 10 million tourists who visit Costa del Sol each year.

Intu’s Mr. Breeden said he wasn’t concerned about competition. “We’re very confident that there will be fantastic demand for our project.”

Sonae Sierra said it also plans to spend €55 million to update four of its other shopping centers around Spain within the next five years.

Elsewhere, TIAA-CREF, a U.S. money manager, has formed a joint venture with Neinver, a Spanish outlet-mall developer, to create TH Real Estate, which will own properties in Spain and other countries. Among their projects is the €80 million Viladecans The Style Outlets in Barcelona, which is scheduled to open in 2016.

“There is still plenty of money chasing product, and plenty of people with big debt who want to sell product,” said CBRE’s Mr. Ramirez. “I expect big volume this year.” He said large transactions could start to level off by next year as prices increase.

Original story: WSJ (by Shaheen Samavati)

Edited by: Carmel Drake

Best Start To The Year For Real Estate Market Since 2010

6 February 2015 – El Economista

Investment activity in the non-residential real estate sector in Spain has started the year with the same strength with which it closed 2014. In just one month, investment has risen to almost €1,100 million, approximately equal to the total amount recorded during the first quarter last year, according to data published by Savills, the international real estate consultancy.

This has been the best start to the year for the real estate market since 2010 in terms of transaction volumes. Nevertheless, in terms of the number of transactions, the level has not been particularly noteworthy compared with other periods – as of yesterday, only nine deals had been closed.

“In January and February, we tend to see transactions left over from before the holidays being closed, however, the pipeline of investment transactions in retail and offices currently exceeds €2,000 million. We expect investment volumes to be similar to or even exceed those recorded in 2014”, said Luis Espadas, Director of Capital Markets for Savills España.

Two transactions have accounted for almost 80% of the total investment in 2015. Firstly, the sale of Gran Vía 32, which was acquired by Pontegadea for around €400 million, according to market sources and secondly, the Puerto Venecia shopping centre, which was sold for €451 million – the deal was announced at the end of the year, but was actually closed in January.

“Both transactions not only support the rising trend in mega-deals (those exceeding €100 million), which accounted for 2.5% of all transactions in 2011 and for 9% last year, they also far outweigh the size of the largest operations recorded in 2014. Moreover, Savills highlights that in each case, the transactions involved a single building, rather than portfolios (of buildings) like in 2014 (when the Junta de Andalucía sold 70 buildings for €300 million and Carrefour sold a portfolio for €350 million).

Success in the office market

Amongst other transactions, interest for the office segment in Madrid stands out once again. It broke records in 2014 for the highest number of transactions ever recorded, with 71 transactions; and which has started 2015 on the right foot. Five buildings were sold in two weeks, almost all located within the M-30.

“The shortage of high quality properties for sale in the business district and other urban areas diverted the search for opportunities towards well-established business centres outside of the M-30, although 75% of investment last year was located inside the periphery” explained Espadas.

Nevertheless, there is an increasing drive towards refurbishment “to add value to office blocks, particularly those that are well located, which are being used either as offices or for conversion into hotels and shops”, added Espadas.

Meanwhile, yesterday, the consultancy firm Irea published its report about investment in the real estate sector in 2014, a year in which direct transactions in real estate assets tripled. Such investments accounted for €9,660 million worth of transactions, out of a total investment volume in the sector of €23,028 million, compared with €5,344 million in 2013.

Original story: El Economista (by A. Brualla)

Translation: Carmel Drake