24 November 2016 – Expansión
Gas Natural has had a change of heart in its strategy to sell its real estate jewels in Madrid. The firm chaired by Isidro Fainé, which engaged the real estate consultants CBRE and Cushman & Wakefield in the summer to sell its main real estate assets in the capital, has decided to divide up its batch of four properties and sell the most sought after asset, located on Avenida de San Luis, in a separate transaction.
In this sense, the energy company has reached an agreement with IBA Capital, through its Socimi Zambal, to sell its headquarters in the capital located on Avenida de San Luis 77. The transaction will be completed within the next few days for around €120 million, once the bureaucratic procedures have been completed.
The firm has opted for the sale & leaseback formula, involving the sale of the property and its subsequent lease for a period of ten years.
The real estate fund manager, which purchased Vodafone España’s headquarters in Madrid just over a year ago, has knocked out the Spanish real estate and investment manager, Drago Capital, from the process, which until now was the favourite candidate for taking over Gas Natural’s buildings in Madrid. Drago Capital, which has been in exclusive negotiations with the energy firm for several weeks regarding the purchase, was unable to complete the operation as it failed to obtain financing from the banks.
In terms of the rest of the buildings up for sale – one property on Avenida de América 38; the Acanto 11 complex; and the Antonio López complex, on Antonio López 193– , the company has decided to reopen the process and invite those investors who expressed interest in the initial process to participate. Besides Drago Capital, the finalists also included Henderson Park and Has Capital.
In total, the combined surface area of the four complexes amounts to 57,000 m2. In addition, this asset portfolio includes 1,695 parking spaces. Specifically, Gas Natural’s headquarters on Avenida de San Luis 77 has a surface area of almost 32,000 m2, which is dedicated to office space. With this operation, Gas Natural is taking advantage of the real estate sector’s current strong performance to generate value from its properties and earn some cash, without having to move its staff by remaining as the tenant.
The office market in Madrid and Barcelona has heated up a lot in recent months due to the shortage of high quality products in good locations. During the first three quarters of this year, investment in the office market amounted to €2,200 million, according to data from Aguirre Newman.
Gas Natural’s approach is in line with that of some of its rivals, which have also opted to divest their real estate investments. For example, Torre Cepsa, located in the Cuatro Torres complex in Madrid, was sold to Amancio Ortega’s investment vehicle, Pontegadea, two months ago for €490 million. Meanwhile, Endesa’s headquarters in the capital is owned by the Socimi Merlin and Iberdrola’s head office in Bilbao is partly owned by Kutxabank.
Original story: Expansión (by R. Arroyo & M. Á. Patiño)
Translation: Carmel Drake