The largest investors in the Ibex: families, fortunes, international funds and the State

Spanish capital has withstood three years of convulsions in the markets caused by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine without losing weight in the Ibex, the stock index of the 35 main listed companies in the country.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
10 June 2023 Saturday 04:26
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The largest investors in the Ibex: families, fortunes, international funds and the State

Spanish capital has withstood three years of convulsions in the markets caused by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine without losing weight in the Ibex, the stock index of the 35 main listed companies in the country. Family fortunes, which often give consistency to the shareholders of the companies they founded, and the presence of the State, which has increased slightly through Indra, offset the presence of international investors. Added to these factors is the Government's anti-takeover shield, which has prevented the purchase of strategic companies by foreign buyers at times of weaker prices.

The 35 Ibex companies are valued at just over 600,000 million euros and are subject to a continuous transfer of shares. However, a third of this capital is settled among nearly 80 investors with a vocation for permanence. They are known as significant shareholders, who declare their shares to the CNMV and who articulate the distribution of power of each company. Among them are family fortunes, state vehicles, international managers, pension funds or activist investors. And among all of them, Amancio Ortega, the Spanish State and the Criteria Caixa holding company stand out, which lead the Spanish capital and occupy the first positions together with the omnipresent American manager BlackRock.

The founder of Inditex is the largest investor on the Ibex, with 59% stakes in the textile giant, 5% in Enagás and 5% in Redeia, valued together, at the close of last Tuesday, at 59,193 million euros, according to the analysis carried out by La Vanguardia regarding the significant shareholders of the selective. This group of investors brings together shares for 230,000 million euros and is the one that has a true institutional presence in companies, beyond the free float that is traded daily.

Second on the list is the American manager BlackRock, with a stake in 21 of the 35 Ibex companies and an investment of 19,789 million euros. This global investment giant, which has close to 8 trillion euros distributed throughout the planet, targets the large listed companies, in which it takes up to 6% of the capital with no ambition other than financial. He appears in Iberdrola, Santander, Aena or Telefónica, but in none of them has he claimed his entry into the board of directors.

The colorful podium is completed by the State. Through Sepi, Enaire and Frob, the Government has influence over several listed companies and an investment of 18,774 million euros for which it also obtains dividends. It has 51% of Aena, 20% of Redeia, 25% of Indra, 16% of CaixaBank and 5% of Enagás. In two of them, Redeia and Enagás, which have a monopoly over the electricity and gas transmission networks, the law grants them control of the company.

Two names also stand out at the top of the list, again different from the rest. They are Criteria Caixa and Enel. The La Caixa Banking Foundation holding company compensates to some extent for the withdrawal of many banks and savings banks from the capital of several listed companies after the previous crisis. It does so with an investment of 18,000 million in corporations with which it maintains a close relationship, such as Naturgy, Cellnex, Telefónica and, of course, CaixaBank. Instead, the Italian utility concentrates its presence in a listed company, in Endesa, in which it has a 70% valued at 15,823 million euros.

The top five investors of the Ibex are the best example of the variety of shareholding profiles, although it is possible to extract patterns. One of them is the origin of the capital, which continues to have Spain, with 59%, as the first country. The Anglo-Saxon presence stands out through a multitude of American and British funds that, together, account for 22% of the investment. The French presence, on the other hand, has become residual, with banks such as Credit Agricole or Société Générale crouching while Qatar emerges among non-EU countries, either through IAG, Iberdrola or Colonial.

The operator of the Spanish market, BME, has its own calculations about the foreign presence in the Ibex and in the Spanish stock market as a whole. It does so by taking all the capital and not only the significant stakes, but also the minority ones and from this it deduces that international investors, as a whole, control 51%, according to what its CEO, Javier Hernani, indicated a few days ago at the Medcap forum. . With which, at present, the Spanish leadership in the stock market is more qualitative than quantitative, but the trend in any case is towards a greater internationalization of capital.

"In recent years, the weight of international shareholders has been increasingly strengthened," they point out from BME. According to his estimates, there is at least one foreign investor as a buyer or seller in close to 80% of the volume traded on BME. His presence is significant, especially if you look back. In 1992, when some of the large privatizations had not yet taken place, its weight was 30%.

Among international investors, the TCI fund, directed by Chris Hohn, stands out for its business activism, capable of causing changes in the management of Aena or Cellnex. "Activism in Spain is not yet as frequent as in other markets, but it is increasing," says Borja Miranda, general director for Spain and Latin America of Morrow Sodali, one of the main proxy solicitors in the market, dedicated to managing relationships of companies with institutional shareholders.

"Year after year we see that it is less and less frequent that the items on the agenda of the shareholders' meetings go ahead with the support of 99%," says Miranda. Investors' search for influence is also typical of some sovereign wealth funds such as the Norwegian one, present in several Spanish listed companies. The governments of Qatar or Algeria, through Sonatrach, have also entered the listed Ibex.

However, if there is a group of backbone investors, it is that of the great fortunes and Spanish families that have founded the companies themselves. They have 42% of the significant shares and, starting with Inditex, they often form the nucleus of power that identifies the corporation before any investor.

The construction sector requires special mention when identifying fortunes. The Entrecanales, with 9,545 million investment, control two Ibex companies, Acciona and Acciona Energía, while the Del Pino family adds 7,056 million for a joint 32.8% in Ferrovial. They are not an entirely unbreakable block, in view of the rejection of one of them, Leopoldo del Pino, to the transfer of headquarters to the Netherlands. Another notable presence is that of Florentino Pérez, whose 13.8% in ACS is worth 1,225 million.

There are more families with a presence on the Ibex, sometimes with order and command in the companies. The López-Belmonte have 55% of Rovi for a value of 1,291 million; the Escarrers 48% of Meliá for 655 million; the Díaz-Tejeiros 34.9% of Solaria for 554 million, and the Marches 18.9% of Acerinox for 508 million. There are also the Domínguez de Gor, with 5% of Rovi and Unicaja for 238 million, and the Escribano, newcomers to the Ibex by buying 3% of Indra for 60 million.

There are also Catalan families, especially around Grifols or Fluidra. The Grifols Roura have 9.1% of Grifols valued at 458 million, compared to 352 million for Grifols Gras for 7% of this company or 307 million for Nuria Roura for 6.1%. In Fluidra, the Serras have 8.1%, valued at 270 million; the Garrigós, 7.7%, at 257 million, and the Plans, 7%, at 234 million. The Puig family owns 7.3% of Colonial which, at market price, is worth 226 million.

Family businesses have a proven resilience. EY's 2023 family business index confirms this, concluding that they are capable of growing faster than average. This is also the impression of the Family Business Institute, whose president, Andrés Sendagorta, defended in a recent conference the potential of capital markets as a "resource-raising mechanism and as a liquidity instrument" for this type of company.

Among the personal fortunes, a place has recently been made on the Ibex that of Manuel Lao, who has developed his business career in Catalonia with the creation of Cirsa, later sold to the venture capital firm Blackstone, and who now has a 6, 2% of Merlin and 3% of Sacyr valued at 297 million.