In March, Metrovacesa bought a 30%stake in Gecina for euro 1.64 billion ($2 billion) from Allianz AGHolding's French unit Assurances Generales de France SA and Frenchmutual insurer Azur-GMF. It also launched a tender offer for therest of France's biggest real estate company. Joaquin Rivero, theSpanish company's chairman, said at a press conference at the endof April that Metrovacesa was hoping to hold 80% of Gecina afterthe bid.

The deal marked the largest cross-border merger in Europe's realestate industry. With the control of Gecina, Metrovacesa boastsmore than euro 13.6 billion ($16.66 billion) in assets and abouteuro 1.4 billion ($1.7 billion) in joint annual revenue. The newlycombined group is now bigger than Netherlands-based Rodamco EuropeNV and Spain's Fadesa Inmobiliaria and marginally smaller than theUK's British Land.

Metrovacesa is Spain's biggest property company following its2003 merger with Bami. The company develops and leases residentialand office space, and it has a portfolio totaling 1.2 million sm.The firm also develops and sells apartment blocks, shoppingcenters, parking lots and other property. Metrovacesa operatesabout seven hotels and plans to develop more; brands undermanagement include Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza. Primary tenantsinclude the Madrid Stock Exchange and H&M.

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