Benson Elliot joins forces with Banco Sabadell to unlock flagship Barcelona office investment (ES)

Benson Elliot, the leading European private equity real estate firm, has completed a milestone debt transaction in the Spanish market, securing a prime office investment in Barcelona for Benson Elliot Real Estate Partners III from Spain's Banco Sabadell.

The transaction was structured and negotiated directly with Banco Sabadell, and involves the forward purchase of Antic Cami de Valencia (Antic Cami), a three-building, 20,000-m² office complex in central Barcelona with an end value of ca. €80 million.

Banco Sabadell's real estate subsidiary, Solvia, took control of Antic Cami after the previous owners defaulted on a loan from the bank in 2009. In 2010, Benson Elliot and local partner Urban Input began working with Banco Sabadell and Solvia to restructure the bank's position and move the project forward. Under the terms agreed with Banco Sabadell, the Benson Elliot-led joint venture will acquire the completed buildings from Solvia in early 2013, with financing for the purchase provided by the bank.

Marc Mogull, Managing Partner at Benson Elliot, commented: "This is a win-win transaction for Benson Elliot and Banco Sabadell, and indeed for the city of Barcelona. We've worked well with the Sabadell and Solvia teams to allocate risk and structure solutions, and I've no doubt this will become a model for future investments in the Spanish market. Catalonia has been resilient throughout the recent crisis, led by Barcelona's position as a key European business hub.

"When markets stabilize Barcelona will face a shortage of truly prime office space – a shortage that Antic Cami de Valencia can at least start to fill."

Salvador Grane, Chief Executive Officer at Solvia and Assistant General Manager at Banco Sabadell commented: "This is a landmark transaction for us and Benson Elliot has been an indispensable part of this process. The innovative structure of the deal is a great outcome for the bank, as well as for our partners. This is an exciting time for the Barcelona market and this transaction shows that attractive opportunities and successful partnerships will arise from the market's recent volatility.

"As one of Spain's largest banking groups, Banco Sabadell is a leading expert in the country's real estate sector. Our goal is to maximize returns on our real estate assets and we look forward to exploring other projects with Benson Elliot in the future."

Antic Cami is located in 22@, central Barcelona's modern business district, close to the crossing of the area's two principal thoroughfares (Avenida Diagonal and Avenida Pere IV), and with immediate access to local metro and tram stops. Antic Cami is expected to be the only major new building to be delivered in Barcelona by 2012/2013. It will be the first energy efficient, LEED-certified office building in the market, as well as one of the city's most design-efficient buildings.

Howard Pierce, Director at Urban Input, commented: "We are pleased to partner with Benson Elliot on this innovative and important project. We are providing space designed around occupiers' needs first, from large floor plates through to smaller modules. Antic Cami aims to provide a top-quality environment while bringing internationally recognized green building practices to Barcelona."

Source: FD

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