I have been relishing the revelations in recent issues of The New York Timesrevealing the secret foreign buyers of new condominium apartments in skyscraper towers around Central Park. The rich list includes Russian oligarchs, Indian swindlers, politically-connected Malaysians, a whole cast of scamsters seeking a huge rarely-occupied pied-à-terre with drop-dead views. On a clear day you can see the former Borscht Belt, to your north, formally the Catskill Mountains. You can see Atlantic City to the south. But you will never see your neighbors thanks to an intricate system of private elevators. Thanks to shell companies you will be able to avoid taxation as a US resident.
Back in the Mother Country, it is not that easy for controversial or crooked foreigners to load up on real estate. The Qatari royal family just got turned down over its planning application for a palatial residence at the edge of Regent’s Park in London.
This came despite the impact of Qatari capital on the British capitol. Qatar has taken control of Canary Wharf; it is unclear if the owner of the iconic buildings in the new London financial center is the royal family or the country, because they don’t keep separate accounts. Qataris now also own Harrod’s, the top London department store. They also own a stake in Heathrow airport.
Yet the Qatari ruling family was turned down when it sought to build a palace near the London Central Mosque and the US Ambassador’s residence. The Crown Estate and Royal Park administrators did not say no; it was the planning chief of the Royal Borough of Camden, NW
The recent real estate boom in both London and New York came from oil money (now harder to come by); Chinese nouveau riche relatives of high officials (now lying low to avoid corruption investigations and execution); and Russian oligarchs (suffering from sanctions and ruble depreciation.) So the impact of the nay-saying council will be felt beyond the deck chairs and the rose gardens it protected.
*Abengoa SA of Spain reported preliminary unaudited 2014 results for its Nasdaq-listed B share ADRs after the market closed yesterday. For the full year it expects to report revenues at euros 7.15 bn, off 1%. But after tax profits are expected to rise by ~24% to euros 125 mn. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (a measure of cashflow) rose 11% year/year. It closed the year with a backlog of around euros 8 bn. It did not sort out Q4 results from the full year.
During 2014 ABGB spun out part of its Abengoa Yield sub. It now expects its stake will be below 50% this mid-year, as a “discontinued operation” and it will no longer consolidated with its parent. It also last year arranged to spin off its Projects Warehouse 1 with EIG Global Energy Partners this March. These moves enabled ABGB to slash its debt by euros 3.35 bn to euros 2.35 bn as of last Dec. 31.