Blackstone reportedly eyes Spanish REIT Hispania

Blackstone, the US private equity firm, is reportedly considering a bid for Hispania, the listed manager of €2 bn of commercial and residential real estate and hotels in Spain.  

New York-based Blackstone is among companies considering whether to make an offer for all or some of Hispania, newswire Bloomberg has reported citing confidential sources. Earlier PropertyEU reported that Tristan Capital Partners, a pan-European real estate investment management boutique firm, is looking to acquire a €500 mln office portfolio from Hispania.  All the firms declined to comment and Bloomberg emphasised that no final decisions have been made and that Hispania may resolve not to accept any offer.

News of potential suitors propelled Hispania's share price to €18.50 on Thursday morning before receding. Hispania was trading at €17.38 before noon on Friday. 

Hot market
Spanish real estate has recovered strongly in recent years and PropertyEU's latest Spanish investment briefing heard in January that the market is ahead of the UK and second only to Germany as international investors’ favoured destination in Europe. This has led to a scramble among foreign and local investors to snap up the choicest assets and entire management platforms. Figures from RCA show that Spain was the fourth most active country in terms of real estate transactions last year as €20.9 bn of real estate changed hands. This represents a 35% year-on-year increase in Spanish transactions.

Hispania was part of the first wave of real estate investment trusts (known as Socimi) established in Spain following the Global Financial Crisis and the Iberian country's property-led economic crisis.

Hispania's overall €2 bn portfolio includes €600 mln worth of offices and €700 mln of residential property. The rest is hotels. The Socimi is looking to divest the entire office package except for two buildings, the Uría Menéndez headquarters project and the Helios project, both in the Spanish capital, according to Spanish press reports. Hispania, which is selling the assets as part of a strategic refocusing on hotel properties, had previously been in talks with Swiss Life REIM to divest the 24- property strong portfolio, but the sale collapsed due to the political crisis in Catalonia. 

It is believed that CBRE and JLL are advising on the sales process. A Tristan spokesperson declined to comment on the rumours when contacted by PropertyEU.  

Private equity
Meanwhile, US private equity is also flexing its muscles elsewhere in the UK and European real estate arenas. Vienna- and Warsaw-listed property group Immonanz dismissed a bid in late March by US private equity firm Starwood Capital Group for a 5% stake in the CEE property owner, calling the price it was offering 'inappropriate'. 

Starwood Capital's simultaneous offer for up to 26% of the capital of CA Immo, another Vienna-listed property company, was better received. The management board of CA Immo last week responded with a statement saying it 'in general welcomes the interest', describing Starwood as a 'financial investor with an excellent reputation'. Click here to read, Immofinanz rejects Starwood bid as too low

Lone Star, another US private equity heavyweight, has said it is evaluating the sale of its 61% stake in the Warsaw-listed real estate developer Globe Trade Centre (GTC) to a strategic or financial investor. Lone Star has hired JP Morgan and UBS to help it review its options regarding its investment in GTC, which has a market cap of €1 bn (PLN 4.3 bn) and a portfolio valued at €2 bn.

Lone Star has also reportedly hired Eastdil Secured and Credit Suisse to explore a full or partial sale of UK property developer Quintain in a move aimed at reducing its UK exposure ahead of Brexit. According to a news report by the Financial Times, Lone Star could raise over £3 bn (€3.4 bn) from the sale of the UK property developer, which it took over in 2015 and took private shortly thereafter. Click here for more on Lone Star


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