Saturday, January 17, 2009

More grist for the mill

Since yesterday, several posts have appeared on different Internet sites positing (mostly similar) scenarios for what's happening with the Loreto Bay development. Most of the information is credited to "credible" or "reliable" sources, but none appear to be from any official source, i.e. Loreto Bay or Citigroup.

Each agree that Citigroup has three bids for the sale of Loreto Bay, the only thing that differs is who has made or is making the bids. It is also agreed that Re:Play's contract expired Dec. 31, 2008, and has not been renewed. There appears to be some disagreement about whether Re:Play is completely out of the picture or just renegotiating a new contract. However, the firm Alvarez and Marsal has been named on a couple of sites as the new management company.

A quick look at the company's Web site reveals they do have a real estate advisory arm which can: "develop and execute sophisticated real estate strategies aimed at improving operations, unlocking value or minimizing risk. ...A&M Real Estate Advisory Services adds further depth to A&M's core problem-solving competency for healthy and troubled companies."

Sounds expensive.

As for the bidders on the property, Mexican businessman Carlos Slim (ranked as the second wealthiest man in the world in 2008 by Forbes with assets totaling more than $60 billion) has been named as a potential buyer and he is by far the most interesting of those mentioned. His story begins with his Lebanese father emigrating to Mexico at the age of 14, where he opened a dry goods store with one of his brothers. He built on that success with real estate holdings and other business acquisitions. His son, Carlos, apparently inherited his father's business acumen, starting as a mathematics teacher and moving on to real estate, mining interests and more. He has also endowed a number of charitable foundations over the years. In
1990, Slim's Grupo Carso, with French and American partners, purchased the state telephone company, Teléfonos de México (Telmex) and the rest is history. He's a fascinating man with a fascinating business and philanthropic philosophy.

As far as potential owners go, Slim's appeal lies in his business successes and the fact that he is a Mexican with an obvious love of his country. What better steward for the original dream and vision for Loreto Bay? And speaking of that original dream and vision, David Butterfield and Slim will both be speaking at a Gaining Ground conference in Guanajuato, Mexico, in April. The conference will focus on sustainability and the future of the real estate market. Coincidence? There is also information on the Internet that Slim has bought up a good bit of Baja real estate, including land in and around the Bay of Conception near Mulege.

The other bidders are purported to be Spano Partners, currently heading up the Nopolo Marriott project, an unnamed Bay area company or Re:Play - take your pick.

We're also getting conflicting information on construction activity in Agua Viva. According to Laurie with TCC, only skeleton crews are at work in the development, including Agua Viva. But Kelli who writes the Watch and Learn blog states in her latest post that "crews are working hard in Agua Viva", but work on the Paseo has not yet resumed. Of course, those observations are most likely a matter of perspective, with Laurie having a different take on the level of construction in her role with TCC.

1 comment:

Carol_Sanders13 said...

Hi Paula, I am constantly amazed at your ability to get information ahead of announcements - LBC finally posted a letter confirming your "rumors" today. Thank you for keeping on top of this and giving us further information on possible purchasers. I appreciated hearing your speculation and background on Carlos Slim etc. I guess those reporter instincts never quit! Please keep up the good work.