Colonial Reports Profits Up as Takeover Deadline Looms

Spanish property firm Colonial announced it enjoyed a substantial increase in profits in 2007, as the firm faced an acquisition deadline of today from Investment Corp. of Dubai.  The investment group has offered $4.5 billion for the Barcelona-based developer.   Colonial said net profit jumped last year to $129.7 million from $26.1 million, due to its acquisition of Spanish mall developer Riofisa, and a nearly $840 million increase in the value of its assets. Many real estate firms in Spain have been confronting significant financial problems of late, especially if they have large residential divisions, as residential housing has been overbuilt in the country, said Roger Cooke, (pictured), managing partner of Cushman & Wakefield Spain. Gauging these companies’ health comes down to three factors: the extent of their exposure to the residential market; whether they have moved from development into investment; and if they are diversified outside of Spain, Cooke said. On Feb. 1, CPN reported that GE Real Estate Iberia dropped out of the competition for Colonial. GE claimed it could not get access to the accounts, despite earlier news that Colonial management would open its books. If Investment Corp. of Dubai does acquire Colonial, Cooke said it will take some time to determine if they made a propitious move. “It really depends on how the market comes around,” said Cooke. While Colonial is a residential developer, its purchase of Riofisa has meant that Colonial now has a retail development pipeline outside of Spain, as well as inside the country, and also owns office space in Spain. But Cooke said an open question is the effect that a slowing residential construction industry will have on Spain’s economy, as major job losses could result.