x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Aabar Investments bids for Santander headquarters

Aabar is part of a consortium planning to take over Banco Santander's Madrid headquarters.

Aabar Investments, a fund owned by the Abu Dhabi Government's International Petroleum Investment Company, is part of a consortium making a €2.3 billion (Dh11.16bn) bid for the Madrid headquarters of the bank Santander, according to media reports.

The effort is being led by Robert Tchenguiz, a UK investment tycoon. Under the plans being pursued, the consortium would buy about £200 million (Dh1.15bn) of debt that originally helped to fund the purchase of the properties.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) issued the debt to the property investors Derek Quinlan and Glenn Maud when they acquired the nine-building complex in 2008. The transaction was a sale-and-leasebackin which Santander sold the buildings but then signed a 40-year lease.

The Financial Times said the deal would allow the consortium to take control of the buildings if the original investors failed to keep up with payments.

The newspaper reported that RBS and the consortium "exchanged contracts" last week, with completion expected in the next few weeks.

Santander's headquarters contains more than 278,000 square metres of space. Aabar has been steadily increasing its investments in property in the past three years. It has formed its own Abu Dhabi development arm with Dh5bn (US$1.36bn) worth of land.

It has also provided financing to Extell Development in New York to build Carnegie 57, a luxury tower in midtown.

The 1,000 foot building is one of the largest projects to launch in the city since the financial crisis caused a fall-off in construction.

Aabar owns a diverse range of investments, including stakes in the space tourism company Virgin Galactic, the car maker Daimler and Italy's largest bank, UniCredit.

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