23 October 2017 – El Confidencial
The largest hotel Socimi in Spain may soon have a replica in Portugal. Azora, the manager of Hispania, is working on the creation of a new vehicle to enter the Portuguese market, on the basis that, over the next few years, it expects to see a repeat there of the recovery that the Spanish real estate market is experiencing at the moment.
The Director-General of Hispania, Cristina García-Peri, revealed Azora’s plans at the Barcelona Meeting Point conference, which was held in the Catalan capital last week. “We are looking at the Portuguese holiday market”, said the director, who also highlighted the opportunities that the country’s two major cities, Lisbon and Porto, have to offer.
Sources consulted by El Confidencial confirm that Azora’s strategy is aimed at constituting a new vehicle, given that Hispania’s mandate focuses solely on the Spanish market. As such, the firm is currently making contact with several funds to define the terms of the project.
The example of what Azora has done with Hispania is the best endorsement that the manager can show investors to attract them towards this new proposal, given that the firm founded by Concha Osácar and Fernando Gumuzio considers that the Portuguese market is very similar to the Spanish market and therefore, they already have a wealth of knowledge in terms of both the product and the environment.
Following in Hispania’s footsteps
Created three and a half years ago, Hispania has become the largest owner of hotels in the country in that short space of time, with 36 establishments and more than 10,350 beds. Most of its properties are located in the Canary and Balearic Islands.
Moreover, in the summer, the Socimi acquired a plot of land in Teguise (Lanzarote), where it is going to build a new five-star establishment with 225 rooms, which it will integrate with the existing Occidental Playa and Barceló Lanzarote hotels, to create a mega-resort with 1,033 rooms, the largest in Hispania’s whole portfolio.
Despite the success achieved with its tourist business, in the spring, Azora made a proposal to the Socimi’s shareholders, led by George Soros, to activate the divestment period for the vehicle and whereby renounce the option of converting it into a permanent entity.
This decision has meant that the company has activated a formal process to sell its entire office portfolio. To this end, it has been holding exclusive negotiations with the insurance company Swiss Life for several months now and it has also started to divest its 754 residential properties, one by one.
In terms of Hispania’s hotels, which account for the bulk of its portfolio, it has until December 2020. Until then, the Socimi will focus on continuing to acquire assets, as well as improving and actively managing the ones it already owns to allow it to increase its rate of return on these investments from 10% to 12%.
Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)
Translation: Carmel Drake
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