UK-based private equity fund manager Benson Elliot has agreed the €80 million (£55.7 million) sale of its landmark Cornerstone office development in Poblenou, Barcelona to a fund managed and advised by UBS Global Asset Management’s Global Real Estate (GRE) business.
Benson Elliot forward purchased the 20,700 sq m (223,000 sq ft) development from Solvia, a Banco Sabadell subsidiary, in March 2011, in a joint venture with Bream Real Estate, at a time when there were few investors prepared to commit to Spain’s real estate sector.
Cornerstone has the distinction of being one of Barcelona’s most design-efficient buildings. Opened in November 2013, it was the recipient of the city’s first LEED Gold Certificate for an office development.
The building’s distinctive design has been one of the keys to keeping interest high among prospective tenants. Cornerstone is now 77 per cent occupied, at just over the 12 months post-delivery mark. It main tenants include ADP, an international leader in outsourced services and human resource management, and Henkel, a German manufacturer.
Trish Barrigan, a Senior Partner at Benson Elliot, said: “When we committed to purchase Cornerstone in 2011, Benson Elliot was one of a small handful of international real estate companies who would even consider Spain as an investment target.“We believed in the sustainability of Barcelona as a magnet for international business, and saw a dearth of competitive supply in the pipeline. Cornerstone is now one of Barcelona’s leading office developments, and the strong institutional interest we saw emerge during the sale process has validated our decision to move early into the Spanish market.”
Poblenou is the largest office sub-market in Barcelona and is home to a range of quality occupiers, including Ogilvy & Mather, Hyatt and Cuatrecasas. Benson Elliot’s acquisition of a 23,400 sq m (251,875 sq ft) land plot located in the San Glorias area is a clear indication of its commitment to Poblenou. The site has been earmarked for another trophy office development.
Manuel Hidalgo, GRE’s Head of Transactions Spain, commented, “Cornerstone is a Grade A urban office park of outstanding quality. It really ticks all the most important boxes for modern occupiers such as efficiency, sustainability, quality, excellent access to public transport and with plenty of restaurants and shops embedded in the very lively district of Poblenou.
“This investment demonstrates our commitment to Barcelona, which ranks among the top business locations within Europe. It also strengthens our position in this market, where GRE’s funds have been present for many years and which already own six office buildings.”
Cushman & Wakefield and Ashurst advised Benson Elliot, while buy-side legal advice was provided by Dentons.
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