The billionaire Reuben brothers, David and Simon, have made a bid for Santander’s €3 billion (£2.6 billion) headquarters in Madrid.
The property is being sold following years of legal wrangling between property speculators.
According to the Sunday Times, the Reubens, who have an estimated fortune of £15 billion, are competing against the bank itself, which wants to buy back the 40-year lease, and the private equity firm AGC Equity Partners.
Santander’s headquarters include a sprawling campus with a championship golf course and an olive grove. There is also an infant education centre for as many as 500 children.
The campus was sold for €1.9 billion the day after Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008 to Glenn Maud, a former lawyer from Sheffield, and Derek Quinlan, a former tax inspector from Dublin. It was financed at a loan-to-value ratio of 98% and fell into negative equity when the market turned sour.
Notorious dealmaker Robert Tchenguiz launched an assault in 2010, buying a slice of debt with backing from Abu Dhabi in an attempt to prise ownership away from Maud and Quinlan, prompting a legal battle. The company that owned the property went bust in 2015.
The Reubens, who were born in India and made more than £1 billion trading aluminium in Russia, are understood to have made it through the first round of bidding, the newspaper reported.
The Santander building is valued at between €2.5 billion and €3 billion.
The news follows a series of major deals by the Reubens this year, most notably their purchase of Mayfair’s iconic Burlington Arcade for approximately £300 million.
The duo’s London portfolio includes Millbank Tower and the John Lewis Partnership headquarters in Victoria.
The brothers have also increased their exposure to hotels after acquiring a site in Soho in August. Comprising three retail and office buildings, and with planning consent for a hotel with restaurant and bar space, the site was acquired from the Shiva Hotel group, who will operate the hotel under a long lease.
Earlier this year, the property tycoons bought Glen House, a freehold building at 125-133 Old Brompton Road, which is home to a Ferrari showroom on the ground floor and has planning consent for offices and luxury apartments over five upper floors.
Other acquisitions in 2018 include 69-70 Pall Mall, which comprises a banking hall let to HSBC and five floors of offices that were formally HSBC’s headquarters; 10 Shepherd Market in Mayfair, which is home to Kitty Fishers bar and dining room; and Amberley Wharf in Little Venice, which comprises seven blocks of flats let on a long lease to Westminster City Council.
In 2017, the brothers spent more than £200 million on property in London, culminating with the purchase of a St James’s building from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) which could house a new London gallery. Earlier in the year, the brothers won planning consent to transform the former In & Out members club into a luxury hotel.
DMZ is impressed that the Reuben brothers have kept their acquisition spree going in 2018 despite the economic and political uncertainties. Hopefully 2019 will bring more of the same.