UPDATE 1-Spain's Colonial shareholders back Villar Mir turnaround

Tue Jan 21, 2014 1:48pm EST

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BARCELONA Jan 21 (Reuters) - Shareholders of Spanish property company Colonial backed a restructuring plan from major investor Villar Mir on Tuesday which will see the family-owned conglomerate take a stake of up to 30 percent stake in the indebted developer.

Villar Mir group, controlled by the chairman of Spanish builder OHL, and two other investment groups from South America and Andorra will invest 500 million euros in the property developer.

That will leave Villar Mir with up to 30 percent of Colonial. Any stake above that level would force it to make a takeover offer for the whole group.

The restructuring marks a tentative comeback for one of the early casualties of Spain's 2008 real estate market crash. Colonial, which owns landmark office blocks in Madrid and Barcelona, was taken over by its bank creditors that year, and dozens of property firms have collapsed since then.

It also adds to signs that the country's ailing real estate market may be close to hitting bottom, after house prices dropped close to 40 percent in the past five years.

Colonial Chairman Juan Jose Bruguera said that the company's "DNA is alive" and added its three new major investors "see their investment as long-term, not speculative."

"They want to maintain the conservative approach we have pursued so far," he told reporters after the shareholder meeting.

Colonial has a loan of about 1.8 billion euros maturing in December this year that will also be refinanced, and it will sell up to 20 percent of its French business Societe Fonciere Lyonnaise (SFL), in which it has a 53 percent stake.

In total, it is planning a capital raising of up to 1 billion euros, with Villar Mir and other anchor investors providing half the funds.

A competing restructuring offer from creditor Brookfield Asset Management was not directly put to shareholders to vote on.

Canada's Brookfield, which owns 46 percent of the Colonial loan maturing in December, had tabled a rival offer to inject capital in the group. But it wanted Colonial to sell all of SFL. (Reporting by Braden Phillips, Writing by Sarah White, Editing by Louise Heavens)

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