Trinitario Casanova Files €713-Million Lawsuit Against BBBVA

16 October 2019 Trinitario Casanova announced that he had filed a €713-million lawsuit against BBVA, demanding compensation for damages stemming from Operation Chamartín.

The owner of the Baraka Group contends that he is filing the lawsuit to defend the right of reversion that he acquired from the members of the Non-Abuse association, an NGO which was created to defend the rights of the original owners of the land where the Chamartín station is now located.

In his lawsuit, Casanova argues that BBVA should pay him a total of 713 million euros should it not wish to accept the executive’s right of reversion and return the 1.3 million square meters of land linked to the Operation Chamartín.

Original Story: Eje Prime

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

Trinitario Casanova’s Baraka Group to Build Hotel in Valdebebas

14 October 2019 The executive Trinitario Casanova is planning on building a new hotel in Madrid Norte, the capital’s new residential area, between Valdebebas and Operation Chamartín. Casanova’s Baraka Group confirmed that it would develop the new hotel on a 38,000-m2 plot of land its owns near to the Real Madrid sports complex and the access to Madrid-Barajas airport. The project reportedly also includes plans for rental offices on the same site.

The area where the hotel will be located is in the ‘Valdebebas Fintech District’ in the new Madrid Nuevo Norte in the north of Madrid, where 11,400 new homes are already under development.

Original Story: La Información – Ana Sánchez Juárez

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

Riu Hotels Wins a Small Victory Over Casanova in the Dispute Regarding Edificio España

1 March 2019 – El Español

A small victory (bringing the total to two) for Riu Hotels in the fight for ownership of the commercial space in Edificio España. The judge has dismissed the precautionary measures that the Baraka group, owned by the Murcian businessman Trinitario Casanova, requested to prevent the registration of the property in the name of the hotel group.

The magistrate has rejected the claim on the basis that there is no evidence, “in a clear and unequivocal way, of the relationship that must necessarily exist between what is claimed in the lawsuit and what is recorded in the Property Registry”. Specifically, Baraka requested that the inscription in the registry should include a note establishing the existence of a dispute over the ownership status.

The objective of that measure is to ensure that any possible investor in the commercial space knows that problems may arise in the future regarding the ownership. Nevertheless, the magistrate considers that the group owned by Trinitario Casanova has not proved its ownership of those spaces in the correct way.

Baraka is going to appeal

Specifically, and according to explanations provided by the group, there is a discrepancy between its lawyers and the judge because the lawsuit against the hotel firm was made directly by Baraka’s parent company, rather than by the company that the group used to purchase Edificio España (and which was subsequently transferred to its parent company ahead of the sale to Riu).

This is the second time that the courts have rejected Baraka’s requests, which in the opinion of Riu Hotels is good news. “We are continuing to work to open Hotel Riu Plaza España in the summer of 2019”, said the group in a statement to this newspaper.

The decision by the judge will be appealed by the Baraka group (…) and the Murcian group is convinced that it is in the right.

Original story: El Español (by Arturo Criado)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Baraka Invests €60M in the Construction of 2 Skyscrapers in Torrevieja

21 January 2019 – Idealista

Trinitario Casanova is on a roll with Baraka. Baraka Properties, the group’s arm specialising property development, has invested €60 million in the construction of two skyscrapers in Torrevieja, which will house more than 130 homes and 250 tourist apartments, according to explanations provided by the company to Idealista News.

The project is going to materialise into two 26-storey towers. Whilst the first will be dedicated to housing in its entirety, the second will be dedicated to hotel use. “Right now, the approval of the project is in the evaluation phase, although our plans are to finalise this first phase during the first quarter of the year”, explain sources at the group, “and once the project has been approved, we will request the licence”.

The land on which the two towers are going to be built is located on Avenida Doctor Gregorio Marañon, on the seafront next to the Doña Sinforosa park. “It is 200 metre from the marina, and all of the homes from the first floor up will have views of the sea. The homes from the fifth floor up will have 360º views”, say sources at Baraka Properties.

According to the company, these will be the first towers in the city, and the tallest to date. The other enclave with towers of this calibre is Benidorm. “The trend for tourists in the area is to look for more unique properties, with higher quality finishes, where they can be offered services like in an American condominium, and this plot fulfils all of those characteristics, both due to its location, and its scale/volume”, they conclude.

In total, 32,000 m2 of space is going to be built in the two towers, and by way of reference, the price per m2 of the penthouse will amount to around €7,000/m2, making it one of the most expensive developments in the area (…).

Original story: Idealista (by Custodio Pareja & P. Martínez-Almeida)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Baraka Triggers the Immediate Suspension of the Building Work at Edificio España

23 November 2018 – El Economista

The magistrate of the Court of First Instance nº 67 of Madrid has ruled that the building work on Edificio España in Madrid be suspended immediately due to the risk alleged by Baraka before that legal body.

Baraka, the company owned by the businessman Trinitario Casanova, filed a lawsuit before the courts of Madrid in August requesting the suspension of the building work on the hotel in Edificio España, in Madrid, which is now owned by the hotel chain Riu. The hotel firm purchased the iconic building in Plaza España from Baraka last year.

Baraka is claiming in the courts that the commercial premises inside the building, spanning 15,000 m2, belong to it and that Riu is refusing to sign across the deeds.

The hotel group Riu indicates that it has not yet received any notification to suspend its building work, according to sources speaking to El Economista. The hotel chain clarifies that Baraka does not have any contract with purchase rights or to register on public record the commercial space in Edificio España. Indeed, they note that at the time of Riu’s purchase of the building, Baraka signed “a non-representative mandate contract to search for investors for the commercial area, which it has failed to do”, despite repeated requests from the hotel chain.

The firm points out that a sales agreement has been reached with Corpfin Capital Real Estate for the commercial area, which was signed in September and which is on the verge of being executed. Riu is threatening to sue Baraka for damages and losses if the building work at Edificio España is affected. The hotel chain is going to invest between €380 million and €400 million in the project, including the purchase of the building (around €272 million) and its renovation.

The future hotel will be a four-star property and will have 589 rooms, 15 meeting rooms and almost 3,000 m2 for social and corporate events. The inauguration of the hotel is planned for September 2019 and the property will operate under the brand Riu Plaza.

Original story: El Economista (by Alba Brualla)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Riu Wins Legal Battle over Ownership of Edificio España

15 November 2018 – Preferente

On Thursday, the judge of the Court of First Instance number 51 of Madrid rejected the provisional measure requested by Grupo Baraka against Riu Hotels regarding Edificio España, where the hotel chain is finalising the construction of the largest hotel in the centre of the Spanish capital.

The judge sided with Riu and ruled that Grupo Baraka must pay the legal costs. Baraka sought to record in the Property Registry that an open litigation case existed regarding the ownership of the building, but that claim has been rejected by the court.

Riu considers that the legal ruling clearly shows “the lack of basis imposed by Mr Casanova and his business group, which represents an important step for clarifying that Riu is the sole owner of the property”.

The hotel chain led by the siblings Carmen and Lui Riu expects to open its new hotel in Madrid, the jewel in the crown of the Riu group, next spring.

Original story: Preferente (by R. P.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

RIU Sells the Commercial Space in Edificio España to Corpfin

4 September 2018 – Ali Market

The Riu Hotels & Resorts group has closed the sale to the investment firm Corpfin of the commercial space in Edificio España. The space is split over three floors (of a total of 27 in the property) and spans a total surface area of 15,000 sqm. This operation has caused the businessman Trinitario Casanova (Baraka), who intervened in the sale of the property by the former owner, the Chinese Wanda group, to the current Mallorcan owner, to file a lawsuit in the courts against Riu for breach of contract, on the basis that he understood that he had the right to recognise that commercial space in his name. Sources at Corpfin declined to deny or confirm the purchase, whilst sources at Riu confirmed that a sale has taken place (without specifying the buyer) and that the contract with Casanova has been cancelled.

Specifically, sources at Riu explain that “the current owner [of Edificio España] is the Riu group, which is undertaking the necessary work, in accordance with current legislation, to convert Edificio España into a reference hotel in Madrid from 2019 onwards, in addition to maintaining the identity of an architectural example that is of great value to the Spanish capital. In this sense, “Mr Casanova says that he purchased the building and sold it hours later, something that is false. Mr Casanova played an intermediary role between the Riu group and Wanda. Subsequently, a contract was signed whereby Mr Casanova exercised an intermediary role to sell the commercial space in Edificio España, owned by the Riu group, in exchange for a commission on the sales value. Mr Casanova breached the contract, given that he did not look for any buyers and merely submitted an offer to Riu in his own name. That offer was assessed by the Riu Group’s Board of Directors, which considered it insufficient and rejected it. “Given that Mr Casanova was not fulfilling the obligations established in the contract signed between the two parties, Riu received a higher offer for the commercial space in Edificio España and decided to accept it, as well as to cancel the contract with Mr Casanova after more than a year of inactivity by him”.

In all other regards, the Riu group, “as the legal owner of Edificio España” is undertaking the necessary remodelling and maintenance work to strengthen the structure and ensure that the front and side façades of the building are preserved “in order to protect the work of the Otamendi brothers, as established by the Law for the Protection of Historical Buildings”. This work requires a series of modifications and reinforcements to the structure of the building to ensure the preservation of the building and façade in perfect condition. “This work is being carried out in continuous dialogue with the municipal experts. None of the reviews by the municipal architects has led to the issuance of an unfavourable report regarding the execution that is being carried out by the Riu group, which always follow the instructions of the Town Hall’s architects”.

Original story: Ali Market (by Paco Mota)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Grupo Baraka Sells a Logistics Warehouse in Murcia to Corum for €14M

11 June 2018 – Expansión

The Baraka Group, controlled by the businessman Trinitario Casanova, has closed an agreement to sell one of the logistics assets owned by its construction company Trabis.

Specifically, Baraka has sold a logistics warehouse, called Trabis II, located in the Murcian town of Yecla, the region where Casanova’s companies are headquartered. The property, which has a constructed surface area of 14,000 m2, has been sold for €14 million through a sale and leaseback contract.

“The advantage is that the buyer is guaranteed an asset in which the tenant will continue to undertake its activity”, explained Pablo Carvajal, Director of Capital Markets at Catella, the consultancy firm that has advised the new owner in the transaction.

The buyer is the French fund manager Corum Asset Management. Created in 2011 and with offices in Paris and Amsterdam, the firm set itself the objective last year of investing €500 million in real estate assets across Europe, with a special focus on Spain. For its investments, whose yields exceed 6%, Corum works with two funds Corum Origin and Corum XL, the latter was launched last year.

This is not the first time that Baraka and Corum have closed an operation together. In July 2016, the French firm paid more than €24.8 million for another logistics building also leased to Trabis.

Corum is one of the international investors that has opted to purchase logistics assets in Spain, a booming market due to its high returns and the increase in the e-commerce business. “The logistics investment market is proving attractive for domestic and international investors alike and increasingly more are investing in this type of asset. Between January and May, €250 million has been invested in these types of properties”, say sources at Catella.

At the overall level, investment during the first half of the year is expected to reach €5 billion. “During 2018, €3 billion has been invested in tertiary (non-residential) assets. Taking into account certain transactions pending completion, we expect to see investment of close to €5 billion during the first half of the year, around €1 billion less than during the same period in 2017”, he predicts.

Casanova

The divestment of this logistics warehouse comes just weeks after Trinitario Casanova entered the Madrid Nuevo Norte real estate project (known as Operación Chamartín). The businessman has committed to pay €400 million to the initial owners for the rights to 1.2 million m2 of land (now in the hands of the Ministry of Development) where the company DCN, controlled by BBVA and SanJosé, is planning to build an urban development with more than 10,500 homes.

In addition, Casanova is working on the marketing of the future shopping arcade in Edificio España, the property that he purchased from Wanda for €172 million to immediately sell it on to the RIU hotel group.

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Grupo Baraka to Invest €20M in Casa Cerdá in Murcia

25 May 2018 – Expansión

Grupo Baraka is continuing to grow its portfolio of properties. The real estate group chaired by Trinitario Casanova has purchased Casa Cerdá, located in Murcia, from a group of individual investors. The plan is to convert the property into luxury homes for rent.

The investment by the Murcian firm in the property will amount to €20 million, including both the purchase and renovation of the asset. The Casa Cerdá building, with a surface area of 3,500 m2, is one of the most iconic properties in the city. The asset, which is almost ninety years old, is located in Plaza de Santo Domingo.

The property is going to be remodelled to house 24 premium homes for the rental market. The first homes will be available for rent from the beginning of 2019.

Moreover, the lower part of the property is going to be converted into a flagship store for a “large company”, which will occupy around 1,000 m2.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Santander & Blackstone Hold Onto the Real Estate Company GAC40

18 May 2018 – Voz Pópuli

Project Quasar Investment, the company created by Santander and Blackstone to bring together Banco Popular’s real estate assets worth €30 billion, has absorbed the company ‘Gestión de Activos Castellana 40’ (GAC40), whose debt amounting to €220 million Popular forgave on 30 December 2014, a move that caught the attention of the European Central Bank.

According to sources familiar with the operation, GAC40 filed for creditor pre-bankruptcy after it found itself in the cause of dissolution, but that measure was cancelled after the formal agreement was reached to transfer Popular’s assets to Project Quasar Investment in March. Sources consulted describe the operation as a “bargain”, given that Santander and Blackstone have effectively acquired GAC40’s assets at a discount of almost 69% and without the burdens that was weighing it down.

The Hispania Buildings in the centres of Murcia and Alicante are just two of the assets owned by GAC40. The company also owns the following shopping centres: La Fuensanta in Móstoles (Madrid); Juan de Borbón (Murcia); and Hispania, in Orihuela. Moreover, it has one supermarket in Totana (Murcia) and another one in Vinarós (Castellón), as well as a hotel in Cartagena. Although most of the properties are occupied, the mortgage charges that had been hanging over them since the real estate boom meant that their sale was unfeasible, according to the sources consulted.

The properties form part of Grupo Hispania, which the businessman Trinitario Casanova, the same person who agreed the sale of Edificio España in Madrid to the Riu group last year, sold in 2008 to José Ramón Carabante – the former shareholder of real estate companies from the boom and the founder of the only Spanish team to have operated in the Formula 1 arena, Hispania – for €650 million.

Carabante abandoned the management of Grupo Hispania in 2011 and was replaced by José Fernando Martínez Blanco, an expert in the liquidation and restructuring of companies. According to the sources consulted, Martínez Blanco was appointed by Banco Popular to acquire Carabante’s companies.

Martínez Blanco changed the registered name of the companies acquired from Carabante to ‘Gestión de Activos Castellana 40’ (GAC40) in 2012. The firm was weighed down by a debt amounting to €562.5 million, with Banco Popular as the main creditor. Until the absorption of GAC40 by Santander and Blackstone, Martínez Blanco had continued as the administrator of the company.

Forgive and refinance

GAC40 has remained active all these years thanks to financial support from Popular, which has been forgiving and refinancing the company’s debt year after year.

On 30 December 2014, Banco Popular’s Board of Directors decided to waive GAC40’s debt. That decision caught the attention of the European Central Bank, which conducted an inspection and identified “deficiencies” in the authorisation of the operation, as this newspaper reported.

The most recent refinancing of GAC40’s debt happened a month after the intervention of Banco Popular and its sale to Santander. On 6 July 2017, the company agreed “as the primary financial creditor”, to “convert the debt into a participation loan amounting to €19.4 million”.

With that debt conversion agreed just a month after Popular’s intervention, GAC40 was able to correct the critical situation that it found itself in. According to the company’s accounts for 2016, to which this newspaper has had access through Insight View, the company was in cause of dissolution with a negative goodwill balance of €221 million and financial debt of almost €250 million.

Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Alberto Ortín)

Translation: Carmel Drake