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npl-reo Market News: Spanish Real Estate Intelligence

Solvia: Sabadell Puts its Real Estate Subsidiary Up For Sale

17 October 2018 - El País

Sabadell is going to listen to offers from several real estate vulture funds that are interested in acquiring its subsidiary Solvia, the manager of its properties. The entity, which declined to comment, has now entrusted the sales process to an investment bank. In the summer, Jaime Guardiola, CEO of Sabadell, justified holding onto Solvia due to “the great contribution it makes to the bank”, but now he is taking a step towards selling it. Sources in the sector indicate that Sabadell wants to strengthen itself and take advantage of the good climate still being enjoyed in the real estate market.

The banks are getting rid of properties before the booming market deflates. They are selling not only portfolios, but also the companies that specialise in the management of those real estate assets, known in the sector as servicers. Until now, it was typical for the banks to include their servicers in the package of asset sales: that is what CaixaBank did with Servihabitat and BBVA with Anida.

But, Sabadell wanted to get more mileage out of its subsidiary and so decided not to sell Solvia when it divested around €12.2 billion of its properties to Axactor, Cerberus, Deutsche Bank and Carval. Nevertheless, Sabadell has now taken the definitive step and is open to offers from the interested vulture funds. According to sources in the market, the interested parties include Cerberus and Oaktree.

148,000 assets under management

Based on data as at May 2018, Solvia is one of the leaders in the real estate services market in Spain, with a portfolio of 148,000 units in assets under management, whose value exceeds €31 billion, according to the entity. In a report from Goldman Sachs, Sabadell indicates that Solvia’s annual profit amounts to €40 million.

The company has extensive experience in the marketing of new build developments, given that it has placed more than 10,000 homes in new developments on the market since 2015. At the moment, Solvia has 55 developments up for sale. In terms of rental, as of October, the firm was managing 32,000 assets, of which 74% belong to Sabadell. Solvia also works with other clients, including Sareb.

The report from Goldman Sachs noted that Sabadell could sell Solvia as a way of raising its capital ratios, with little detriment to its income statement.

Market sources agree with these arguments to explain the step taken by Sabadell. On the one hand, as the European Central Bank has indicated, entities must accelerate the sale of all businesses relating to the real estate sector. The banks are aware that times of lower economic growth will come and understand the importance of taking advantage of the appetite that the large international funds still have for Spanish property.

On the other hand, the sale of Solvia will also result in cost savings, a reduction in the workforce and, above all, lower capital consumption. In the last quarter, between March and June, Sabadell’s capital ratio decreased by one point, from 12% to 11% for its CET 1 fully loaded capital ratio (the highest quality indicator). The limit on the basis of which the ECB applies severe measures is 10.5%.

This decrease was due to the problems that Sabadell has been facing with its British subsidiary TSB, which was left without a service for weeks. Between March and June, the bank lost €138 million in provisions against real estate portfolios and the problems at TSB.

Original story: El País (by Íñigo de Barrón)

Translation: Carmel Drake

 
Brussels Approves the Sale of CaixaBank's RE Arm to Lone Star

11 October 2018 - La Vanguardia

Today, the European Commission (EC) has given the green light for CaixaBank to sell 80% of its real estate business to the US fund Lone Star after verifying that it will not harm competition due to its “limited impact on the market structure”.

The EU Executive reported its approval of the operation, which was announced by CaixaBank on 28 June and which will involve the sale to Lone Star of a portfolio comprising the real estate assets available for sale as at 31 October 2017 and the real estate company Servihabitat.

The package is worth around €7 billion in its entirety.

CaixaBank is planning to close the sale at the end of this year or the beginning of next year and estimates that it will result in cost savings of €550 million over the next three years, between 2019 and 2021.

Moreover, it will allow it to clean up its balance sheet of foreclosed assets proceeding from the crisis and improve its returns, according to the bank.

The Competition Department of the European Commission analysed the operation using the simplified procedure for reviewing mergers, which is used for those deals that, a priori, will generate the fewest problems.

Original story: La Vanguardia

Translation: Carmel Drake

 
Cerberus & Blackstone Compete to become Largest RE Firm in Spain

16 October 2018 - Expansión

The US funds Cerberus and Blackstone are battling it out for first place on the podium in the Spanish real estate sector. Cerberus, which has just completed the purchase of 80% of BBVA’s real estate business, has invested more than €10 billion in real estate transactions in the country over the last year. Specifically, Cerberus will now control 80% of Divarian Propiedad, the company to which BBVA has transferred its real estate business and in which the bank will retain the remaining 20%. The groups have not disclosed the price of the transaction or the value of the assets included in Divarian, although the bank did indicate at the time that its intention was to transfer assets with a gross accounting value of approximately €13 billion at an estimated price of around €4 billion.

Anida’s workforce

Divarian, which is going to be managed by Cerberus, will incorporate the specialist staff from BBVA’s former real estate platform, Anida, comprising 400 professionals, into its team.

In addition to this operation, known as Project Marina, Cerberus reached an agreement with Santander in the middle of September to purchase a portfolio of residential properties for around €1.535 billion comprising 35,700 properties, including parking spaces and storerooms. This transaction followed Project Jaipur – a portfolio of property developer loans also acquired from BBVA -; the portfolios Challenger and Coliseum, with a combined gross value of around €9.1 billion, acquired from Sabadell; and Ágora, the portfolio that Cerberus purchased from CaixaBank.

In addition to the purchase of real estate portfolios, Cerberus is the owner of: Haya Real Estate, the largest independent Spanish servicer with €40 billion in assets under management; the property developer Inmoglacier; the online real estate agency between individuals Housell; and Gescobro, the debt recovery company.

The fund, which has not specified how much it has invested since it arrived in the country, has become, together with Blackstone, one of the most active players in the purchase of doubtful debt portfolios (NPLs) and foreclosed assets (REO) with real estate collateral, and has closed more than 30 transactions in Spain over the last five years, even before the recovery of the sector.

Testa

Meanwhile, Blackstone has acquired around €20 billion in property since 2012, to which the Socimi specialising in residential rental assets, Testa, must be added, given that the US fund now controls 70% of that firm’s share capital. The fund marked a milestone last year when it purchased 51% of Banco Popular’s real estate business from Santander, with a book value of around €10.3 billion. To group together the assets, Blackstone and Santander created Project Quasar Investment, a company that includes Aliseda.

The fund is also the largest owner of hotels in Spain through HI Partners and Hispania, one of the leaders in the logistics and office ownership market in Spain.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake