The intention was revealed during the first edition of the Iberian REIT Conference, organized by Iberian Property and EPRA last week in Madrid, where the managers of Merlin Properties, focused on office and commerce assets, and Hispania, dedicated to the tourism segment, announced that they intend to invest in our country.

Ismael Clemente, CEO of Merlin Properties, announced during the conference that the SOCIMI wants to increase its exposure to Portuguese real estate, where it already has several office buildings and a commercial gallery. It assumes to be especially aware of the retail segment.

Hispania should make its entrance into Portugal when it finds the right opportunity. Cristina García-Peri, general manager of the SOCIMI, explains that the company is attentive, especially to the banking portfolios, which may have "good opportunities".

José Luis Del Valle, who heads Lar España, acknowledged the "great opportunity that Portuguese real estate makes", but said to be, for the time being, focused only in Spain.


Without REITs, "investors will have to invest through other countries"

In this meeting of real estate investors, the participants recognized the common aspects between the Iberian markets as a benefit for investment, but pointed out that Portugal lacks a REITs regime, which could eventually limit the attractiveness of the investment.

Manuel Puerta da Costa, present at the conference representing APFIPP, believes that "if Portugal does not legislate REITs, investors will have to invest in our market through other countries, with due losses in terms of revenue for the country. The government, whatever its political ideology, should think about national interests and have a long-term perspective in this field, assuming that this REIT figure, as evidenced in several European realities, plays a role of public good, transparent and professional", he highlighted.

On the other hand, Miguel Ferre, Senior Advisor of EY and one of the "fathers" of current REITs legislation in Spain, believes that "there is a huge expectation about Portugal's awakening to real estate investment through listed companies, specifically in the context of improving the economy and the real estate market. The Portuguese Government, which is now facing the decision to regulate listed real estate, has to think to whom the REIT model is directed. To capture the international investor it is important to offer simple, comparable and similar products to the rest of the markets. That is why about 90% of REITs use the same format.

António Gil Machado, director of VI Iberian Property's platform, points out that this is an "investment mechanism that coexists with existing alternatives, attracting mainly international capital, which pursues to invest in a format comparable with other countries where it is already present. This is absolutely crucial at a time when Portugal is having an unprecedented international projection, with increasing credibility, and when the competition between cities for investment is increasingly fierce."

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