Spain’s ohl increases stake in €500-million madrid…

Construction company OHL Desarrollos has purchased a 32.5% stake in the Centro Canalejas Madrid development from Grupo Villar Mir to increase its holding in the project to 50%.

PokerStars founder Mark Scheinberg owns the other half of the ambitious plan, which was originally kicked off in 2014 and was faced with a myriad of challenges that prevented its earlier completion.

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The complex, which will feature hotel and residential areas as well as retail space and multiple food and beverage outlets, is now slated for late 2019 opening. It is being developed next to the Puerta del Sol square in Madrid and includes buildings formerly occupied by the Banco Santander.

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In a Monday filing to Spain’s National Securities Market Commission (Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores), OHL said that it would pay €50 million for the 32.5% stake in the development with an option for an additional €10-million payment in the event of gains if it sells its stake subsequently.

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Excluding the newly added holding, OHL originally owned 17.5% in the scheme. The acquisition marks Villar Mir’s official exit from the project and provides OHL with a 50% stake, the other 50% being owned by Mr. Scheinberg, who joined the project last February through his company Mohari Limited.

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More about the Project
Grupo Villar Mir and OHL bought the land where the complex is currently being developed back in 2012 from its former occupant Banco Santander. The property was set for an earlier launch, but legal and other challenges prevented that from happening.
Development work commenced in 2014 and the complex is now expected to open doors in late 2019. It will feature a 200-room Four Seasons-operated hotel, which will mark the Canadian chain’s entry into the Spanish hospitality market, a residential area, which will, too, be operated by Four Seasons.

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The property is expected to create 4,800 direct and indirect jobs and has been touted as one aiming to bring revitalization to the area and protect the historic and cultural heritage of the buildings it will include. In fact, the risks the project might pose to the integrity of the area has been one of the main reasons why it has been contested heavily by a number of heritage defense groups.

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Mr. Scheinberg, who together with his father, Isai, founded PokerStars in the 2000s and then sold it to Canada’s Amaya for nearly $5 billion, entered the Centro Canalejas Madrid scheme in February 2017. The businessman, whose net worth is estimated at $4.8 billion (Forbes: Real Time Net Worth), paid €225 million for a 50% stake in the endeavor.

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The deal marks his first foray into the Spanish real estate market, which seems to be gradually returning its mojo after the 2008 property bubble burst that saw property prices collapse overnight and shatter Spain’s economy like a massive earthquake.