For Sale, Cheap: The Cranes in Spain

Spanish banks stop refinancing loans that kept developers alive
Potential buyers inspect and bid on new and used construction equipment at an auction in Ocaña, Spain Photograph by Angel Navarrete/Bloomberg

When Spain had Europe’s third-biggest construction market, Angel Fernandez used to travel to the Netherlands to buy equipment for Spanish homebuilders. Now he watches as buyers come to Spain to take diggers, excavators, and trucks to countries where they won’t just gather dust. Standing in a sunburned field in Ocaña, a 90-minute drive south of Madrid, Fernandez looks on as Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers sells never-used construction equipment at discounts of as much as 20 percent. “My business is being made obsolete,” says Fernandez, who is there to look for bargains for Spanish clients that are still operating. “When the crisis began in 2008, we all thought that it would be over in two or three years, but we got to 2011 and realized we were in worse shape.”

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