Mandarin Oriental Enters The Bidding War To Buy The Ritz

12 February 2015 – Cinco Días

A new chapter has begun in the bidding war to buy the Ritz in Madrid, one of the most emblematic hotels in the capital. The property has been on the market for almost two years, but may have a new owner in a matter of days. Mandarin Oriental, one of the largest Asian luxury hotel chains, has set its sights on the hotel, which is currently controlled by Orient-Express and Omega Capital, the investment company owned by Alicia Koplowitz.

The owners of the Ritz have been looking for a buyer for the property for almost two years, which, despite its prime location and the power of its brand, has lost much of its appeal in recent years, due to a lack of investment. This has meant that all of the operators that have shown an interest in acquiring the property have identified the need to undertake a major refurbishment, which has played against a quick sale.

Despite that, Orient-Express, now known as Belmond, and Omega have remained steadfast in their price expectations, which led Marriott to placing an offer for €130 million on the table; the transaction fell through at the last minute, when it seemed like every blessing had been given. The problem was that, by adding the purchase cost to the amount required to reform the property, the buyer considered that the final result was infeasible.

Fairmont took over the reins in the bidding process during the second half of last year, by offering €120 million for the property, whose refurbishment it valued at around €60 million. The luxury hotel chain analysed all kinds of options to try to close the transaction successfully, ranging from reselling the rights of the Ritz brand to Marriott – which would have allowed its rival to use the brand throughout the Iberian Peninsular – to addressing the possibility of operating the asset under its second brand, Raffles.

But, according to several market sources close to the negotiations, Fairmont has now also withdrawn from the bidding, leaving the way open for Mandarin. The Asian player may end up closing this complex transaction, mediated by JLL, through an agreement whereby it takes on a management role, but which, in any case, will allow the Asian chain to establish itself in Madrid, a market that it has been analysing with much interest for over a year.

After acquiring numbers 38 and 40 on the exclusive Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona, overlooking Casa Batlló, the Hong Kong firm opened its first property in Spain at the end of 2009. With this investment now well established, the Asian hotel chain has plans to grow in the country, both in Barcelona and, above all, in Madrid.

Luxury hotels arrive in Madrid

The emergence of Four Seasons in the capital, which has reached an agreement with OHL Desarrollos to open the luxury Canalejas complex, has been a catalyst for the Madrilenian hotel market. The large international chains have set their sights on the city and deals are expected to be signed for properties such as the Hotel Villa Magna, the Hotel Miguel Ángel and the old headquarters of Asturiana de Minas; without forgetting the Edificio España, which was acquired by the Chinese Group Dalian Wanda.

These deals will follow others agreed in the last few months, such as the opening of Barceló’s four star hotel in the Torre de Madrid, the conversion of the Hotel Asturias into a boutique hotel and the transformation of the historical Tio Pepe building into a 5 star hotel.

Omega Capital and Belmond acquired the Ritz twelve years ago for €125 million. The strong impact of the economic crisis on the hotel sector in the capital, with declining tourist numbers and low prices, in addition to the cost of the pending renovation of the emblematic hotel, has taken its toll on the brand, for which an impairment loss of €12 million was recorded in 2013, the last full period for which official results are available.

Original story: Cinco Días (by R. Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Talus To be Ortega’s Neighbour On Gran Vía

29 January 2015 – Cinco Días

Two buildings on the same street in Madrid have changed hands within just over a week of each other. The fund Talus Real Estate has agreed the acquisition of the building on Gran Vía 30 (on the corner of Calle Valverde) for €42 million. On Monday, the company Drago Real Estate announced the sale of its building on Gran Vía 32 to Pontegadea, the company that owns Inditex’s real estate assets and receives its dividends on behalf of Amancio Ortega, the founder and primary shareholder of the fashion group.

According to sources close to the negotiations, JLL and Aguirre Newman have participated in the sale of the property on Gran Vía 30, as advisory consultants. However, the companies involved did not want to confirm this information yesterday.

The same sources said that the buyer plans to refurbish the property. The fashion chain Sfera, owned by El Corte Inglés, has a store that occupies two floors of the building.

Talus Real Estate’s main executives are David Finkel and Jordi Moix and its headquarters are located in Madrid. According to the company’s website, before joining Talus, Finkel worked for Westbrook Parners, where he co-directed their business in London. Westbrook Partners is a real estate investment group that was founded in 1994, has offices in the US, London, Munich, Paris and Tokyo and has invested USD 10,000 million to date. Prior to that, he worked for the Japanese entity, Nomura and for iStar Financial, another international real estate investment group.

Moix has held senior positions in the Spanish real estate companies Reyal Urbis, Metrovacesa, Layetana and Habitat; he has also worked for IAG and Citibank. Currently, he is vice-president of FC Barcelona’s real estate business.

Gran Vía is trading up

The sale of the property on Gran Vía 30 is the latest in a series of transactions undertaken on the Madrid street that will change its appearance as it approaches its 105th birthday.

The fashion group Primark will occupy several floors of Gran Vía 32, when it opens its largest store in Spain there. Talus Real Estate will also refurbish the Gran Vía 30 building. In Plaza de España, the Chinese group Wanda will convert the Edificio España into a luxury hotel and shopping centre. Next to the building sold by Santander, the hotel chain Barceló will take over some of Torre Madrid to open another hotel.

Late last year, Axa Real Estate, a subsidiary of the insurance company Axa, acquired Gran Vía 37, where the fashion retailer H&M has its largest store in Spain and which used to house the Avenida cinema, for €80 million. Also last year, the Community of Madrid sold Gran Vía 20 for €20 million to Caja Rural de Almendralejo Sociedad Cooperativa de Crédito.

2015, another big year for real estate investment

With the sale of Gran Vía 32 and the upcoming sale of the Plenilunio shopping centre, the amount of investment in Madrid will amount to €800 million. According to sources familiar with the transaction, the sale of the shopping centre will reach a figure close to €400 million.

In 2014, investment in real estate in Spain amounted to between €6,000-€9,000 million, almost twice the figures recorded in the previous three years.

During the year ahead, Socimis, which revolutionised the sector in 2014, will continue to invest, as will investment banks, whereby replacing opportunistic funds. The liquidity injection announced by the ECB will boost the sector. The expected sale of Realia will be another major transaction. Industry experts are also drawing attention to investment in logistics platforms.

Original story: Cinco Días (by Alberto Ortín Ramón)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Wanda Meets González To Discuss Its €3,000m Investment In Madrid

28 January 2015 – Expansión

Representatives of the business group Wanda, owned by the Chinese magnate Wang Jianlin, met with the President of the Community of Madrid, Ignacio González, first thing on Tuesday, to discuss the project to build a housing, hotel and leisure complex in the Campamento neighbourhood of the capital.

The Wanda delegation was led by its CEO, Zhu Huan.

Wang Jianlin, owner of the Wanda Group, recently announced his willingness to invest €3,000 million in a large housing and leisure complex in the Campamento area of Madrid, in the south-west of the capital, on land belonging to the Ministry of Defence.

A few months ago, the Chinese magnate bought the Edificio España, in Plaza de España, with a view to building housing, shops and a luxury hotel there; and a few days ago, he completed the purchase of 20% of the football club Atlético de Madrid for €45 million following a capital increase by the club.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Santander Concludes Transformation Of ‘Banif Properties’ Fund

23 January 2015 – Expansión

Santander has just submitted the prospectus for its new real estate investment company, Luri 6 SII (the entity resulting from the transformation of its ‘Banif Properties’ fund), to the CNMV.

The company announced its intention to convert the fund into a company, at the end of November, and with the publication of this prospectus, which contains the investment policy and company by-laws, this process has now been completed.

The goal of the company is to liquidate the assets that it already holds in its portfolio, estimated to amount to more than €1,500 million.

The entity has closed a number of large transactions in recent months, most notably, the sale of Edificio España to the Chinese group Dalian Wanda for €265 million in June last year. Santander had purchased the landmark building from Metrovacesa in mid-2005.

Sources at the entity say that Santander has no intention of selling this vehicle, which it currently owns outright, and that there are no plans to convert it into a Socimi or list it on any exchange, as various sectors had speculated.

Decline

Banif Properties was the largest fund of its kind, until the financial crisis and the illiquidity of its real estate investments led to its decline.

In 2008, an avalanche of redemptions forced Santander to freeze capital withdrawals from the fund for almost two years, whereby trapping thousands of stakeholders. In 2011, the entity gave them the option of redeeming their stakes, but at a significant loss. Most left the fund. Those investors who did not accept the offer at the time, did so in December and January 2013, when Santander offered to transfer their shares to a newly created monetary fund or redeem them without charging any commission.

Original story: Expansión (by A. Antón)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Wang Jianlin Plans To Invest €3,000m In Macro-Complex In Madrid

22 January 2015 – Expansión

Following his investment in Atlético de Madrid, the Chinese tycoon, owner of the Edificio España, is studying the possibility of building a residential and tourist complex that would also include casinos. He is considering two locations: Campamento and Venta de la Rubia.

Yesterday, for the first time, the Chinese businessman, Wang Jianlin (pictured), owner of the conglomerate Wanda Group, confirmed his plans for the creation of a residential and leisure macro-complex in Madrid. “We have already had a meeting with the Spanish President and it is now up to Spain to take a decision”, said Wang in China, after signing an agreement to acquire 20% of the Atlético de Madrid football club.

The objective of Wang Jianlin, who has assets of more than $13,200 million, according to the most recent Forbes ranking, is to invest at least €3,000 million in the creation of an upmarket complex that would include up to 15,000 luxury homes. The development would also house leisure areas, such as a retail complex, theme parks and casinos. In fact, Jianlin has already hired the project’s creator from the gaming magnate Sheldon Adelson in Macau, say sources close to the entrepreneur.

Location

In terms of the location of the macro-complex, Wang Jianlin and his team have two options. On the one hand, the site in Venta de la Rubia, in Alcorcón, where Sheldon Adelson was going to build the failed Eurovegas project. On the other hand, an old barracks site in Campamento, in Madrid, which is currently owned by the Ministry of Defence.

In favour of the former are its location, close to Madrid’s tourist attractions, such as the Royal Palace, and crucially, the fact that it has a single owner, the central Government, which would massively simplify future negotiations regarding construction. Against, is the price that Jianlin would have to pay for the site, which covers almost 9 million square metres, and the fact that a development plan already exists and modifications to it may delay construction.

The second option, in Venta de la Rubia, is close to Santander’s business park, as well as to the land where Atlético de Madrid plans to build its new sports facilities; in addition, Wang would be allowed to create a tailor-made development plan for the site. Furthermore, the owners of the land, who are united through a Compensation Board and which include companies such as Metrovacesa and the Urtinsa group, would be willing to hand over some of the land for free – something they already offered to Adelson, according to real estate sources – since the rest would be re-valued.

Regardless of the location that Wang Jianlin and his team finally choose, the construction of this macro-complex would revitalise this area to the south-west of the capital. “The goal is to convert the Paseo de Extremadura into the new Castellana, and develop the whole of the surrounding area through the Jianlin complex”, explain sources close to the businessman.

“He is keen to start very soon”, said Enrique Cerezo, President of Atlético de Madrid, yesterday. Mr Cerezo has acted as a guide to Jianlin during his visits to Madrid. Yesterday, the President of the Community of Madrid, Ignacio González said that  “The regional government is “fully” committed”.

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Wanda, Four Seasons to Bring Super Luxury to Madrid

13/01/2014 – El Economista

Two new hotels, one belonging to Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin and his Wanda group which is set to open its doors inside the iconic Edificio España building (pictured on the right), and the other, to be occupied by Four Seasons, to open in the so-called Canalejas triangle, will foreseebly offer the first apartments having access to top-end hotel amenities.

Potential buyers of the flats must obviously have a great purchasing power. Normally, they would be businessmen seeking second residences providing them with privacy and, at the same time, exclusive hotel services.

In addition, an owner of such an apartment could ask for preparing the dwelling for their arrival at the city or doing some necessary fittings and fixtures.

The Mixed Use

This kind of property model has been already pursued in the past but finally it didn’t pan out. In 2007, Portugese family Queiroz Pereira, the owners of the Ritz in Lisboa or the Hotel Villamagna in Madrid, reduced the number of keys to 110 and turned the rest of the rooms into luxury apartments, aiming at intending 100% of the available space for them. Though, in the end, they only renovated the property and stood by the traditional use of the property.

“Right now, none of the establishments combines a luxury hotel with high-end dwelling units, like in other cities. In Madrid, we only find commercial properties of mixed use, such as one of the Cuatro Torres standing out in the skyline of the northern part of the capital. Owned by Sacyr, the skyscraper houses a five-star Hotel Eurostar Madrid Tower, while the rest of the building is leased to consulting firm PwC ”, explained Patricio Palomar, Alternative Investment head at CBRE.

 

Original story: El Economista (by Virginia Martinez & Alba Brualla)

Translation: AURA REE