Berkeley Assets Arrives in Spain by Opening its First Office in Marbella

10 April 2019 – Eje Prime

Berkeley Assets has just opened its first office in Spain, in Puerto Banús (Marbella). The investment fund, backed by capital in Dubai and London, also plans to open offices in Madrid and Barcelona by the end of the year.

The company will start by focusing its activity on Madrid, Barcelona and Málaga. It plans to raise funds and make substantial investments in the Spanish market, in its first venture outside of the UK and the USA.

Berkeley’s assets raised USD 112.8 million in 2018. The group’s portfolio includes properties in London, New York and Miami.

Original story: Eje Prime 

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Barcelona Gets Ready for the Residential Equivalent of Coworking: ‘Coliving’

29 January 2019 – Idealista

Whilst last year, coworking was one of the most repeated words, this year, it seems that the residential equivalent is on everyone’s lips, specifically, the new formulae for housing, ‘coliving’. So much so that Barcelona is already preparing to receive the first operators: the Consortium of the Zona Franca, a public entity tasked with the economic revitalisation of the city of Barcelona and its metropolitan area, is already managing licences to open the first coliving centres in the La Marina neighbourhood.

Although the names of the firms that are going to make their debuts in Spain under this model are unknown for the time being, sources in the sector say that they have already started to process the first permits for projects that are in an initial phase. “Just like coworking has become a successful phenomenon for the office market in Spain over the last 2 years, so professionalised coliving wants to follow in its footsteps and try its luck in the residential market”, explain sources at the real estate consultancy firm Forcadell.

“The large international investment funds, in their search for alternative assets that offer higher returns, are studying the Spanish market to implement this model, which has already proved successful in other countries such as the USA, Germany, the UK and Japan (Tokyo)”, say the sources at Forcadell.

With their arrival, these operators will professionalise a common practice in Spain of house sharing, by adding sophisticated aspects more typical of student halls. The coliving projects that have been developed to date comprise complexes with bedrooms and individual bathrooms on the one side and large common areas with movie theatres and games rooms (with ping pong, pool. etc.), libraries, gyms, restaurants and swimming pools, amongst others, on the other side.

According to Toni López, Partner at Forcadell and Director of the company’s real estate area, “the millenials have changed the way of consuming and have championed a change of thinking around property ownership, experience and use; it is logical and inevitable that this trend will expand to the real estate sector”. They are a generation that values experiences and seeks to optimise resources to the max, paying only for the use and experience of an asset, without incurring the cost and hassle involved with its ownership.

Medici and Corestate, the first brave players

Medici and Corestate have become the first groups to look closely at Spain for their new homes under the coliving formula (…). The German company Medici has joined forces with the German fund Corestate to invest more than €1 million in the development of business across all of Europe. In the Spanish market, the company will operate under the Quarters brand and it is already negotiating its first coliving project in Barcelona (…).

Medici already has three coliving buildings in Berlin, with capacity for 45 residents and nine apartments; and two more in the USA, in cities such as New York and Chicago, where the monthly rents range between USD 1,100 (€967) and USD 1,500 (€1,320) (…).

Original story: Idealista (by Custodio Pareja)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Stoneweg Invests €50M in Alternative Financing in Spain

12 December 2017 – Eje Prime

Stoneweg is betting on Spain for alternative financing. The Swiss fund, which is headquartered in Geneva and led by the Spaniard Joaquín Castellví, is continuing with its purchase in the country through its real estate platform. And now, it has set its sights on alternative financing, where it has already accumulated investments amounting to €50 million. The idea is that the company will reach €100 million in this line of business in 2018.

The fund, which manages a platform from which it has already disbursed €500 million in just two years, is now expanding its range of businesses in the real estate sector with the financing of operations that have short and medium-term value generation processes. “This line of financing is carried out with coverage of the real estate assets, be they hotels, industrial or commercial properties, or even residential assets. The operations have time horizons of between nine and thirty months”, explains the company in a statement.

Stoneweg will place the focus on the search for opportunities in Madrid, Barcelona and other secondary cities, as well as on tourist and coastal destinations.

Currently, the Swiss fund has a presence in Spain, the USA and Italy, and an investment capacity of €750 million. With two in-house teams in Barcelona and Madrid, its platform holds residential and hotel assets spanning 200,000 m2, as well as offices covering 26,000 m2.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Amancio Ortega Creates RE Subsidiary In Spain With Assets Worth €1,600M+

13 November 2017 – El Confidencial

Pontegadea, the investment vehicle owned by the founder of Inditex, Amancio Ortega (pictured below), has created a real estate subsidiary in Spain to group together its local assets, which have a combined value of more than €1,600 million. The assets include Torre Cepsa, designed by the architect Norman Foster and acquired at the end of 2016 for €490 million and the building at Gran Vía, 32, which is home to one of the largest Primark stores in Europe, and which was purchased at the beginning of 2015 for €400 million.

Specifically, Pontegadea Inmobiliaria, which closed 2016 with real estate assets worth more than €6,700 million, will have a new subsidiary, in the form of Pontegadea España, a company in which Ortega will group together his real estate business in the Spanish market.

Sources close to the deal have explained to Europa Press that Pontegadea Inmobiliaria already has specific companies in many of the countries in which it operates, such as in the USA, France, United Kingdom and Korea, to hold the real estate activity of the textile giant’s founder in each respective territory.

It is about having a “more homogenous” structure in all of the markets in which Pontegadea Inmobiliaria operates (…). In fact, according to the same sources, there was no need to constitute a company for this activity in the Spanish market, given that Pontegadea already had one, Torre Norte Castellana, owner of Torre Cepsa, acquired at the end of last year. As such, it has only had to change the name of that entity to Pontegadea España, and add the leasing of real estate assets in Spain to its activity, according to the Official Gazette of the Mercantile Registry (Borme).

Torre Cepsa, Gran Vía 32 and Torre Picasso

In addition to Torre Cepsa (…) and Gran Vía, 32, Ortega owns several other buildings in Madrid, such as Torre Picasso and the Castella 79 building, which houses the largest Zara store in the world.

The founder and largest shareholder of Inditex has received revenues of €1,256 million this year in the form of dividends from Pontegadea, through the companies Pontegadea Inversiones and Partler (through which he controls a 59.294% stake in Inditex), compared with €1,108 million in 2016.

Ortega closed 2016 with real estate assets worth €6,719 million, which represents €661 million more than a year before, grouped together into his company Pontegadea Inmobiliaira, which has net assets worth €6,485 million, up from the €5,460 million that it held a year earlier. Ortega, who invests some of the dividends he receives from Inditex in the real estate sector, owns the largest real estate company in Spain, focusing on the sale, purchase and rental of large buildings. The firm owns a portfolio of real estate assets, fundamentally comprising non-residential, office buildings located in the centre of large cities in Spain, the United Kingdom, the USA and Asia.

Original story: El Confidencial

Translation: Carmel Drake

AC Hoteles Plans To Open One Hotel A Week

7 November 2017 – Expansión

AC Hoteles by Marriott, one of the main Spanish hotel chains, plans to open 57 new establishments around the world between now and the end of 2018. Moreover, 12 of them will be launched before the end of 2017, according to the company’s President, Antonio Catalán.

“We are opening one hotel a week”, explained Catalán (Corella, Navarra, 1948) in an interview with Efe, in which he described the “spectacular” growth of the chain, which plans to have 190 hotels in total between 2017 and 2018, mainly in the USA and Europe.

Marriot Internacional acquired 50% of the AC brand in 2011 and since then, has rolled out establishments around the world and has started expansion into Asia. The chain forecasts turnover of €400 million this year, up by 20% compared to 2016. The US group contributed 110 million loyalty card holders to the group. “Marriott was a real coup”, said Catalán, who added that “the group has shown that it is there (for us) when the going gets tough”.

“Now, the company is completely healthy following the crisis and has no debt whatsoever”. Catalán founded the NH chain in 1977 when he purchased a hotel in Pamplona. In 1997, he decided to sell his stake and create AC. That chain now has 3,500 employees in Spain and 7,000 in the rest of the world. “I always talk about the big AC family; we do unusual things when it comes to recruitment. We don’t use temporary contracts”, says Catalán, whose aim “is not to earn millions at the expense of his employees”. (…).

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Stoneweg Will Construct 2,000 Homes During 2017

22 May 2017 – El Mundo

(…) In line with the strong performance of the Spanish economy and, more specifically, the residential market, the real estate investment platform Stoneweg, a company that manages funds on behalf of institutional investors and family offices in Europe and Latin America, has just made its official presentation, confirming that it has €750 million to invest in property development in Spain during 2017.

Although headquartered in Switzerland, the company was founded in 2015 by two Spaniards, Jaume Sabater and Joaquín Castellví, who both previously worked in the Real Estate area at the investment bank Edmond de Rothschild. Over the last few years, Stoneweg’s investment capacity in real estate assets has exceeded €1,600 million, spread across Spain, the USA, Italy and a small part of Switzerland. (…).

Commitment to Spain

“We decided to take positions in Spain in 2015, buying land and buildings from financial institutions, Sareb and individual owners”, said Joaquín Castellví, Stoneweg’s CEO in Spain. The reasons for the firm’s commitment to Spain include its confidence in the strength of the economic recovery, the “attractive” financing conditions being offered for real estate assets and the “speed and transparency” with which the firm is able to access and close operations with local agents. “Moreover”, added Castellví, “mortgages for real estate assets are increasing again, which means that the Spanish market will be the ideal place to sell assets in around five years”.

Stoneweg’s main investment focus is on the residential market (where it will allocate two-thirds of its capital under management) be it the development of new homes or the renovation of existing buildings. To this end, the modus operandi of the management company, which has already invested €450 million of the €750 million that it is planning to spend this year, consists of closing operations to purchase land or buildings with tickets of between €100 million and €150 million to build on themselves or in conjunction with local property developers.

Currently, the company has 30 residential projects underway (in varying phases), with a total of 1,300 homes, which are due to be ready at various points between this year and 2020. It also plans to close the year with 50 projects in its portfolio, corresponding to 2,000 homes for sale.

Stoneweg insists on building homes “in accordance with the highest international standards, to ensure an extraordinary level of comfort”.

In terms of their locations of choice, Castellví confirmed that his company is focusing on Madrid, Barcelona and the Mediterranean Coast, “but” he says, “ we are flexible both in terms of the type of project, as well as location within the aforementioned areas”. (…).

Original story: El Mundo (by Luis M. De Ciria)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Meliá Generates Profits Of €45M In H1 2016

2 August 2016 – Expansión

The hotel chain earned €45 million during the six months to June and reduced its net debt by €213 million.

The hotel chain Meliá, which will join the Ibex next week, replacing FCC, doubled its profits during the first half of the year, to €45 million. The company has highlighted that the 123% improvement in net profit has been generated even without the sale of any assets.

The company owned by the Escarrer family increased its average revenue per room (RevPAR) by 9.4% – or by 14.2% if we include the assets under management in its portfolio – and whereby recorded six years of consecutive quarterly increases.

The company closed the first half of the year with operating income of €856 million, 0.4% lower than in the same period in 2015. If we strip out the effect of gains from the sale of assets last year, operating income increased by 5.7%.

By geographic region, RevPAR in America was lower in H1 2016 than in H1 2015, which the company explains was due to the impact of the depreciation in the Canadian dollar, the economic deceleration in Brazil and Argentina, changes in reservations due to the Zika virus and the good temperature in the USA and Canada, the main issuing markets. By contrast, the company highlighted the strong performance of hotels in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, with a RevPAR increae of 30.9%.

In terms of the financial situation, Meliá decreased its net debt by €213 million during the first six months of the year, bringing it down to €556 million at the end of June, thanks primarily to the early conversion of a convertible bond issued in 2013.

The Vice-President and CEO of Meliá, Gabriel Escarrer Jaume, stated that the repositioning of its hotels, investment in assets and strategic markets, as well as financial strengthening have allowed the group to return to the Ibex thirteen years later.

The company is “optimistic” about the performance of its hotel complexes during the third quarter and its urban hotels during the second half of the year. In the same way, it forecasts a favourable “albeit unequal” performance across its “European hotels”, influenced by the world environment, especially France, in the face of the heightened terrorist threat. In terms of America, the firm expects a boost with the opening of several new hotels: Innside New York Nomad, ME Miami and Meliá Braco Village (Jamaica).

At a conference with analysts, the company made reference to Brexit explaining that it does not expect any impact in the short term, given that Britons have already booked their holidays for 2016, and some have even booked for next year.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

KKR Gets Ready To Launch €525M RE Fund In Europe

3 May 2016 – El Economista

The US investment firm KKR is finalising its fundraising ahead of the launch of its new fund, which will focus on the real estate sector in Europe. To date, it has already managed to raise USD 598 million (€525 million).

The usual size of KKR’s investment vehicles ranges between USD 500 million and €1,000 million (approximately €439 million and €878 million), a range that the directors of the US firm hope to reach. The new fund’s key investors include Maine Public Employees Retirement System, which has contributed USD 50 million (€44 million) to the firm’s new vehicle.

Just like the other international investment companies, KKR decided to gradually diversify its portfolio of investments. In fact, its specialisation in the real estate sector culminated in 2011, when the US company created a team dedicated especially to that business segment. In the last year, KKR has strengthened its teams in the USA and Europe focused on the real estate sector.

Opportunities in Europe

In the words of one of the directors of KKR, Scott Nuttal, “We are seeing plenty of opportunities to invest in the real estate segment in Europe”. In fact, currently, the US investment firm owns several assets in France, the UK and Spain.

Its first foray into the property sector in France was made in September 2013, when it acquired an office building in the Paris region of River Plaza. A year later, it bought four shopping centres from Corio for €104 million.

In the UK, the US group’s first operation was the purchase of the three- and four-star hotel chain Queens Moat in 2012. During 2013 and 2014, KKR acquired a package of shopping centres located in Oxford, Glasgow, Sunderland and Birmingham.

In Spain, KKR acquired two shopping centres in September 2014: the Nassica in Madrid and Vista Alegre in Zamora. Those assets were previously owned by British Land and KKR spend €90 million on their purchase.

In the rest of the world, the US investment firm controls several assets distributed all over the world. Specifically, in the USA, it owns eight assets (three shopping centres, one residential development, offices and a portfolio of assets relating to the health sector). Moreover, it owns the World Trade Centre in Melbourne (Australia) and the K Tuin towers in Seoul (South Korea).

Original story: El Economista (by Araceli Muñoz and Rubén Esteller)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Barceló Doubled Its Profit In 2014 To Generate c. €50m

12 February 2015 – Expansión

Barceló recorded a profit of c. €50 million in 2014, whereby doubling its result from the previous year. The co-chairman of the hotel chain, Simón Pedro Barceló announced the result yesterday (the group’s definitive results for the year are still pending) and attributed the increase to “a significant increase in EBITDA (from €183 million to €215 million) and the incorporation of ten new hotels in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Moreover, 2014 was the first full year to include the results of its new travel division.

Turnover exceeded €2,000 million, of which €1,100 million was generated by the travel sector and €900 million from hotels. The total figure amounted to €1,800 million in 2013. The co-chairman of Barceló said that it is too soon to say how the tourism sector will evolve over the course of the year, but he noted that “the Caribbean and Mexico have had a strong start to the year and although we do not know what will happen during the summer months, we believe that we will outperform the results recorded in 2014 by 10%”.

According to the latest information released by the Mallorcan company, Barceló has 140 hotels in 17 countries containing 37,380 rooms. Half of them are located in Europe and the remainder are in America, primarily in the US and the Caribbean. It also has 400 travel agencies operating in 22 countries.

New acquisitions

The group, which returned to the travel agency segment last year through its acquisition of Orizonia, together with Globalia, has not ruled out growth through further acquisitions. Yesterday, Simon Pedro Barceló confirmed that “new corporate transactions have not been ruled out” in the travel agency sector.

The family business owns 39% of its hotels outright, and leases or manages the remainder. Its goal is to be “a great hotel company”, said Barceló yesterday, which is why the company is continually adding new hotels to its portfolio. “We have just signed an agreement to lease a new 4 star hotel with 250 rooms in Berlin”, he said.

Barceló, who was giving a lecture at ESADE, was very optimistic about the future of the economy and the tourism sector in particular and encouraged employers to work together with entities that are independent and able.

Original story: Expansión (by Marisa Ángeles)

Translation: Carmel Drake