Institutional Investors Return to Spain

One of the greenest office parks in Barcelona has a new owner.
Cornerstone Office Development in Poblenou, Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain—One of the greenest office parks in Barcelona has a new owner.

London-based private equity real estate fund manager Benson Elliot has recently agreed to sell its trophy Cornerstone development in Poblenou, Barcelona. A fund managed by the real estate division of UBS Global Asset Management purchased the property for approximately $88 million (€80 million).

When it opened in November 2013, Cornerstone was awarded  the  city’s  first  ever  LEED  Gold  Certificate  for  an  office  development. The building is now 77 percent occupied and owes much of its leasing success to its efficient design. ADP, a global leader in outsourced services and human resources management, and German manufacturer Henkel are among the property’s tenants.

Back in March 2011, Benson Elliot and its joint venture partner Bream Real Estate agreed to forward purchase the approximately 223,000-square-foot (20,700-square-meter) facility from Banco Sabadell subsidiary Solvia. At that time, not many investors were willing to make such a considerable – let alone speculative – commitment to the Spanish office real estate sector.

“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,” Trish Barrigan, senior partner at Benson Elliot, said.

Benson Elliot was advised by Cushman & Wakefield and Ashurst, while the buyer’s legal advice was provided by Dentons.

Poblenou is Barcelona’s largest and most dynamic office submarket, home to notable companies such as Ogilvy & Mather, Hyatt and Cuatrecasas. In September 2014, Benson Elliot acquired an approximately 251,000-square-foot (23,400-square-meter) land plot in the Las Glorias area (a little more than half a mile from Cornerstone). This site is earmarked for another landmark office development.

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