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Spanish Real Estate Deals: Who Bought What In 2014

2014 was a record year for investment in the Spanish property sector. The property portal Idealista.com looks at who bought what.

Translation and adaptation of an article published by Idealista.com

vultureDuring the first half of 2014, big funds lead the stampede of foreign investors into Spain, but the second half belonged to private investors and REITS (real estate investment trusts, know as SOCIMIs in Spain).

As the year progressed, the preferred “target asset” also changed. Deals involving shopping centres and property platforms were gradually replaced by others that, until recently, were unthinkable, such as property-backed debt, or even plots for residential development.

“After a long, hard ride through the desert, Spain became a solid property investment destination during 2014,” Mikel Marco-Gardoqui, national director for investments at CBRE states in Trends, the report published recently by his company. This journey has mainly been led by investment giants. Names such as Blackstone, Pimco, Goldman Sachs, Lone Star and Apollo, among others, are now a familiar in Spain.

Investment fund Apollo kicked off 2014 with the first transaction of the year. On 7 January, it announced the purchase of 85 per cent of Altamira, Banco Santander’s real estate servicer. This deals was one of the largest acquisitions of a bank property platform, at €664 million.

However, the record was set at the end of the year: In December, Kutxabank sold its property platform and half its property assets to Lone Star for €930 million. A total of eight real estate servicers have been sold since 2013. BBVA’s Anida is almost the only one left in bank hands.

In terms of appeal to investors, once bank servicers were all gone, retail sites and offices were the most sought-after assets between January and June last year. Up to 14 shopping centres were sold in the first six months, but as optimism in the sector grew, and the more attractive assets disappeared, investors shifted their attention to other properties such as plots of land, or property-backed debt. This shift helped Catalunya Banc sell €3,500 million worth of toxic mortgages to Blackstone, followed by the Sareb “Bad Bank” selling €200 million in loans backed by buildings with rental properties.

Even building land found buyers in the second half of 2014. The Sareb sold its first plot for residential development to Castlelake, followed by other land deals in Madrid totaling five by year end. More than anything this illustrates the dramatic turnaround of investor sentiment towards Spanish real estate that took place in 2014.

Spanish Property Insight adapts and translates selected articles from the local press for the benefit of non-Spanish speakers.

This translation is based on the following article (in Spanish): ¿quién y qué activos inmobiliarios se vendieron en 2014?. Check out the table of deals in 2014 at the end of the article.

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