The Business Year

José Cardoso Botelho

Managing Director, Vanguard Properties

Arthur Moreno

Founder, Stone Capital

The unique nature of all of Vanguard Properties' and Stone Capital's projects shows that Portugal's real estate sector is in safe hands.

How would you evaluate the company’s performance and operations?

JOSÉ CARDOSO BOTELHO We started Vanguard Properties in 4Q2015 to invest in the Portuguese real estate sector. At present, we appraise opportunities across Portugal, though the first deals were concluded in Lisbon and then Algarve and Comporta. We focus on areas where it is pleasant and easy to live with great prospects. We invested in Castilho 203, which is conceivably the most high-end residential building under construction in Lisbon. We will also build the largest residential tower in Portugal, named Infinity, in Campolide, Lisbon. Other than that, we bought three developments in Algarve, one of them, Bayline, located just 50m from a 6-km beach. Moreover, we purchased an amazing 350-ha plot in Muda, Comporta, to develop a 200-plot village surrounded by 42 farms. Each plot is around 5ha, and one can build a house of up to 500sqm. We are the leader of a consortium that signed in September 2018 a sale and purchase agreement to acquire the famous Comporta Dunes and Comporta Links, perhaps the trendiest present and future spot in Portugal and Europe. All together, we have about 1.05 million sqm of construction in Portugal. Our main shareholder is Claude Berda, which is also one of the largest owners of residential apartments and developers in Switzerland.

ARTHUR MORENO My brother and I started Stone Capital in 2011 after realizing there was significant potential to renovate the city center of Lisbon, where many buildings, some of which, located in prime neighborhoods and with beautiful architectural value, were still standing in a poor state. Even though Portugal was in the middle of one of its worst economic crises, we thought that there was still an opportunity to refurbish ill-maintained buildings by focusing on outstanding assets in the best areas of Lisbon, as we have always believed in the inherent value of this type of asset in the long run. This strategy has paid off, and our business has grown successfully and at a rapid pace since. We now have more than 40 projects in different phases representing more than EUR500 million in investments. We launched a couple years before the recent uptrend of the Portuguese real estate market and managed to create a strong brand based on an extensive portfolio of landmark assets. We have set up an excellent team of highly recognized professionals and have gathered invaluable goodwill with the authorities because they have valued our commitment to developing and building beautiful projects since day one.

How would you describe your target market?

JCB In the beginning, we were interested in developing projects for foreigners. Later, with the recovery of the Portuguese economy, locals have become a key segment. Typically, we are approached by Brazilians, French, Swiss, Italians, Turks, and South Africans. We see an increasing number of foreign buyers, namely people who do not just want to invest but want to live here. Increasingly, when people look to relocate, Europe is the only place they are looking at, and Portugal is the popular choice.

What is attractive about the Portuguese real estate market for foreign investors?

AM Portugal offers a great location within Europe and is less prone to some of the social problems that face other parts of Europe. Even though prices have been rising fast, we still see an upside in the market, both in terms of capital appreciation and yields. This is especially true for the products we are focusing on, which are at the higher-end of the market with distinctive characteristics and are therefore safer investments in the long run.

What trends do you identify in the local real estate market, and how do you find solutions in response to shifting demands?

JCB For our most important development, which will be in the Comporta area, people are increasingly careful about sustainability. Therefore, our project is designed taking in consideration three axes: sea, land, and community. On the community side, we want to create jobs, promote local productions and invest in art, culture and education.

AM The upward trend in prime real estate in Lisbon has made it difficult for lower-income households to find affordable living options. To counter this trend, the Lisbon City Hall has prioritized the development of social housing programs. Being aware of our responsibility as developers, we have decided to take part in this initiative and have won the first tender. We are convinced that it is important to have a strong social mix within the city to ensure that Lisbon’s authenticity is not lost, and this program is an excellent opportunity to concretely foster this idea.



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