Miami’s landmark Espirito Santo Plaza has been mandated to be sold in the bankruptcy process tied to the collapse of Banco Espirito Santo (BES). The mandate shall be carried out by Miami-based EXAN Capital.
Rio Forte Investments, the controlling entity of Estoril, Inc, (the asset’s owning entity), sought protection from creditors in Luxembourg in July of 2014, hoping to avoid a fire sale of its assets.
Banco Espirito Santo had to be rescued due to the debt exposure of firms related to the Espirito Santo family.
On August 3, 2014, Banco de Portugal, Portugal's central bank, announced a €4.4 billion bailout of BES which heralded the end of BES as a private bank. The bailout was funded by the Portuguese Resolution Fund. The bank was split in two: a healthy bank known as Novo Banco, and the existing bank, where the toxic assets remained. Most of these toxic assets are held in Luxembourg by two holding companies: Espirito Santo Financial Group (ESFG) and its subsidiary Espirito Santo Financiere SA, where RIOFORTE and the associated Espirito Santo Plaza are held.
Immediately prior to seeking such protection, the mixed-use tower (offices, retail, and parking garage) had been all but sold to an investor identified by Miami-based EXAN Capital, a boutique Real Estate Investment Firm. That process came to a halt when the bankruptcy process began.
This week the court-appointed trustees in Luxembourg announced that EXAN Capital will lead the sale process, as they did once before, because of their deep familiarity with the building and the transaction. EXAN believes that with a court-mandated marketing process open to new bidders, in a strictly transparent and public process, creditors of Rio Forte will find the outcome more favorable than in the prior process.
The Plaza (at 1395 Brickell Avenue) is an iconic 36-story mixed-use tower that in 2012 was awarded the American Institute of Architecture’s highest honor for a commercial building in the state of Florida, being recognized as Commercial Building of the Year. Located in Miami’s thriving financial district (Brickell), the building’s designers (Kohn Pederson Fox) built the glass- curtain wall to contain its trademark arch, symbolizing both the building and the neighborhood being “Miami’s Gateway to Latin America.” With nearly 660,000 square feet of offices,retail, hotel, and 121 luxury condos, the Plaza will command a market premium as the irreplaceable asset that it is.
"The sale of the Espirito Santo Plaza will no doubt draw attention from both local investors and those from around the globe, as both recognize the rarely seen opportunity for what it is," notes Adam Wolfson, SVP at EXAN Capital, who will be managing the sale process. EXAN reiterates the open and transparent process and encourages qualified bidders to contact them in their Miami offices for more information.