GONZALO ROBINA

Mexico 2020 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

As the largest real estate group in Mexico, Fibra Uno is able to withstand crisis, pivot into good opportunities, and support its people.

Gonzalo Robina
BIOGRAPHY

Gonzalo Robina is the Director General of Fibra Uno. He has more than 35 years of experience in the real estate sector. He has been responsible for the acquisition of more than 500 properties that are worth a total of MXN170 billion. He has helped raise more than MXN120 million in capital markets. He is also the founder, president, and director general of MexFund, a real estate fund that was acquired by Fibra Uno in 2011.

What was Fibra Uno's biggest achievement in 2019?
Our biggest achievement was definitely our participation in capital markets. We issued over USD1 million in bonds that, given the conditions of the market, allowed us to strengthen our financial position. It will play a significant role in our acquisition of a 1.2-million-sqm estate portfolio that we call the Titan market. This is prime estate close to the US-Mexico border and it currently serves industrial manufacturing with high export potential.

What is Fibra Uno's decision-making process when investing in a new project?
It goes beyond any particular set process; it is based on the instinct we have developed over years of experience. In addition, because we are the largest real estate group in Mexico, virtually every opportunity crosses our desks. We have a great understanding of the current state of the market. All the 600 acquisitions that we have done over the last nine years went through strict screening and due diligence.

What is Fibra Uno's competitive advantage over other real estate firms in Mexico?
We represent 45% of the national market, and the liquidity behind our bonds is extraordinary. Those conditions ensure great stability in our finances and grants us access to international markets and investment, which is something that most other firms lack. We have built a diverse portfolio that includes industrial, corporate, and commercial properties. For many, this allows us to be their one-stop shop for real estate.

How has Fibra Uno adapted to modern trends of e-commerce and shared workspaces?
Our ideal share has always been 40% commercial estate, 40% industrial, and 20% office space. Over the years and as promising opportunities came up, the proportion shifted in different directions. With the recent acquisition of industrial properties, that share will go back, more or less, to our ideal ratio for risk management reasons.

How do you expect the COVID-19 crisis to impact your market and the economy?
Beyond COVID-19, the overall conditions of the market are also affected by the plummeting oil prices and will present a complex picture. We will support our tenants in every way possible and have already accounted for not receiving a regular year's worth of rents and payments in some of our properties. Thankfully, our company has a strong financial backing, allowing us to withstand the effects of the pandemic, pivot into good opportunities that may arise, and support our people.

Most of our interviewees say Mexico lacks investment in real estate. What is your take on the matter?
Depending on where one is looking, the current conditions will generate the best real estate investment opportunities the market has ever seen. Specifically, on built projects, the market will offer great deals in the next 12-18 months. New real estate might have to wait a few years because construction will slow down. On our side, we will finish our ongoing projects and then wait for great opportunities to reach our desks.

Can you expand on Fibra Uno's ongoing projects?
We are developing the biggest mixed-use project in Mexico. The first office building is up and running, the commercial mall will open in 2021, and the 72-story Mítikah residential tower will be complete in early 2021. On the industrial side, we are developing over 360,000sqm of logistics and supply chain facilities. For example, we recently finished TecnoParque.

What are your main priorities for 2020?
Stability is our main priority for 2020. We will work to ensure job security for our staff so that they can face the current crisis without losing any income. We will also do our best to support our tenants and be ready to jump on any promising opportunities.