Merlin Properties Said to Plan IPO to Form Largest Spanish REIT

Merlin Properties SA plans to become Spain’s largest real estate investment trust by selling shares to the public by the summer, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

Merlin, a Madrid-based company managed by former directors of RREEF, will be more than double the size of Hispania Activos Inmobiliarios SA (HIS), an externally managed Spanish REIT that listed its shares earlier this month, said the person, who asked not to be named because the information is private. Hispania has a market value of about 530 million euros ($728 million).

Merlin’s management will include David Brush, former head of Europe for Brookfield Property Group, who will be chief investment officer, the person said. The team will also include Ismael Clemente and Miguel Ollero, former directors of RREEF Spain and founders of Magic Real Estate, an asset manager and investment company with 2.8 billion euros of assets under management.

The planned share sale follows a stream of investors including Pacific Investment Management Co.’s Bill Gross, Quantum’s George Soros and billionaire John Paulson who have invested in Spanish REITs betting on a rebound after a six-year property slump. Spain accepted a European bailout of its financial system and formed a bad bank in 2012 to take soured real estate assets off of lenders’ books.

No one at Merlin Properties or Magic Real Estate was available to comment on the planned initial public offering.

Credit Suisse Group AG will coordinate the sale and will be joint bookrunner along with UBS AG (UBSN) and Deutsche Bank AG (DBK), the person said. RREEF is the former name of Deutsche Bank’s real estate investment unit.

Merlin will invest in prime commercial real estate assets primarily in Spain and may invest to a lesser extent in property in Portugal, the person said. The company will take the form of a Socimi, the Spanish equivalent of a REIT.

Hispania Activos is one of two Spanish property companies that have listed their shares on the Madrid exchange this month. The other, Lar Espania Real Estate Socimi SA (LRE), has a market value of 417 million euros.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sharon Smyth in Madrid at ssmyth2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew Blackman at ablackman@bloomberg.net Jeff St.Onge, Andrew Blackman, Kara Wetzel

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