UPDATE 1-Neinor, Quabit tie-up kickstarts Spain's 2021 M&A scene, shares rise

(Adds quotes from execs, details, context)

MADRID, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Shares of Spanish housing developer Quabit surged up to 15% on Tuesday after real estate promoter Neinor Homes agreed to buy the firm part-owned by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.

The merged entity would rank among Spain’s top three real estate promoters, with around 2 billion euros in gross asset value, Quabit CEO Felix Abanades said, noting that the goal was to become Spain’s leading platform for rental accommodation.

The deal values Quabit at 62 million euros ($75.35 million), excluding 240 million euros of net debt, around 15% above its market capitalisation of 54 million euros at Monday’s close. It will provide Neinor with 7,000 new housing units and create a company with enough land assets to develop 16,000 units.

“We see much appetite for companies who build to rent in Spain,” Neinor CEO Borja Garcia-Egotxeaga said.

“Our type of middle and upper-middle income housing, on the outskirts of big cities, has gained strength with the COVID-19 crisis.”

Both companies also saw potential in the deepened importance of workers wanting to live near their place of employment as a result of the pandemic, especially near big logistics hubs.

Last year, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim bought a minority stake in Quabit, increasing his bet on the Spanish real estate sector which experts believe is headed towards a series of consolidations.

Garcia-Egotxeaga said the company wanted to use its “very strong” cash position of 2.4 billion euros for new investments, but would for now focus on maximising the value of its land.

If Quabit shareholders approve the deal, they would hold a 7% stake in Neinor, the companies said, while Neinor expects the absorption to produce 200 million euros ($243.02 million) in efficiencies, or synergies, over the next five years.

Neinor shares rose 4.5% to their highest level in more than four months on Tuesday, before retreating to trade 0.4% lower.

Brokers Capital Markets noted that the merged company’s gross development value would reach 4.5 billion euros ($5.47 billion).

$1 = 0.8230 euros Reporting by Clara-Laeila Laudette and Jesus Aguado, editing by Andrei Khalip, Kirsten Donovan