Cushman & Wakefield has today presented an overview of its local operations for 2014 and prospects for 2015.
Eric van Leuven, C&W managing partner, said, “2014 was exceptional for the real estate sector, with the welcome return of foreign investors to our country and occupational sectors making a recovery, especially offices and retail”.
“Cushman & Wakefield grossed 45% more than in 2013, which is an excellent result for the company that made a profit in all service lines. The departments with the best results were offices, which saw business triple, and investment and retail, which saw business double compared with 2013. Non-transactional departments also yielded excellent results, particularly asset management and valuations”, added Eric van Leuven.
“The volume of commercial real estate investment in Portugal double compared with 2013, reaching 700 million euros, 80% from foreign investors. The last quarter of 2014 saw the first major acquisitions by a number of private equity funds, namely Blackstone and Meyer Bergman. These investors are expected to make more acquisitions in 2015, and will be followed by other investors with a similar investment profile", he concluded.
In 2014 C&W's investment department was involved in more than 40% of the transactions recorded in Portugal, including the acquisition of a retail and logistics property portfolio by Blackstone from ESAF, the sale of Chiado 12 building on behalf of JPMorgan/Imopólis.
The office agency team, which again achieved the best results in 2014, was involved in the leasing of 28,500 m2 of new offices, including the completion of the leasing of the entire Torre Ocidente building to several entities, and numerous contract renegotiation processes.
This team is currently in charge of the leasing of around 60,000 square meters in the greater Lisbon area, including the buildings Étoile 240, Avenida 252 and Café Lisboa on Avenida da Liberdade; Mar Vermelho, Adamastor and Art’s Business Center at Parque das Nações; and Parque Suécia, the building Elevo, Miraflores Premium 1 and 5 of MEAG and the IVG portfolio at Quinta da Fonte, all in zone 7 – Western corridor
The retail department smashed its initial target. Major transactions included those on Av. Da Liberdade which amounted to over 4,000 m2, including the new flagship store of Ermenegildo Zegna, Hugo Boss, and the first stores in Portugal of Hackett, Cos and Juliana Herc, amongst others.
In Chiado, the team was responsible for several transactions, including the sale of Casa da Sorte to a private investor and consequent rental to Confeitaria Alcoa, a Portuguese brand of historic importance.
The commercial and client representation centres are equally important to Cushman & Wakefield's retail practice. The team was also involved in the leasing of the recently opened Alegro de Setúbal. The representation of international clients continues to grow, with Asics being the latest client acquired in this segment, which signed two major contracts in prime locations in the Colombo and Vasco da Gama shopping centres.
In retail consultancy, a sector that experienced growth of more than 70% over 2013, C&W represented a number of international clients, which demonstrates acknowledgement of its experience and leadership in Portugal's retail sector.
The industrial & land team had a very busy year, despite the stagnation still lingering in this sector. A number of advisory and representation services for tenants in the negotiation of contracts and the identification and negotiation of new real estate solutions for tenants, taking advantage of the widespread supply in the market and more competitive rental conditions, essentially marked the year. It was also involved in a major rental of logistics area involving 11,100m² at the former property of Garcias in Alverca.
The teams of the non-transactional departments also posted excellent results.
The property & asset management team had a very positive year as a result of the excellent performance of assets under management, which led to renewed vote of confidence by its clients and consequent consolidation of existing contracts. This department currently has 37 office blocks, 6 shopping centres and 4 logistics plants under its management, amounting to an area of around 340,000 m2 and annual revenue of 42 million Euros.
C&W's valuation & advisory team maintained its position as a market leader, appraising properties worth more than 20 billion Euros in the year, an increase of 25% over 2013, including retail properties, offices, residences, industries and tourism properties. This sector saw business expand by 10% in the period due to the interest of Hospitality assets to both Portuguese and foreign investors.
The project management department was highly diversified in 2014, and its activities included the licensing and construction of the new Igreja de Jesus Cristo dos Santos dos Últimos Dias church in Parque das Nações, and the inspection and coordination of works at a similar church of the same client in Santarém. They also completed project management and architecture projects for the remodelling of offices for Microstrategy, Accenture and Safilo, and project management for reburshiment works at the store Footlocker in Almada Forum, amongst others.
The research & consultancy department performed strongly in international market studies carrying out studies for the whole of Latin America for both investors and retailers. There is a lot of business with banking institutions, primarily analyses of best alternative uses, conducted in conjunction with the appraisals team, in order to respond to the requirement to adapt projects to a new reality.
Looking forward, Eric van Leuven commented, “We go into 2015 with renewed confidence, but still cautious due to the weakness of the economic recovery in Portugal and Europe, and geopolitical tensions. On the plus side, the excess liquidity in several regions and pursuit of yields will continue to benefit Portugal which despite being small, peripheral and in recovery, is viewed as relatively mature, transparent and cheap. Urban redevelopment will remain a priority, facilitated by a slightly more favourable tax framework and more flexible licensing process. In terms of office space, buildings of quality with spacious area are becoming scarce, primarily in Parque das Nações. However, the development of new buildings will only be justified when yields rise, as in the current situation, it is not financially feasible. We also predict an ongoing decline in yields for prime products, implying gains in value".