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Blackstone Creates Europe’s First Restructured Loan Securitisation Fund

4 October 2016 – Expansión

The US giant Blackstone is doing great business in Spain with the problem assets that it bought from Catalunya Banc at the beginning of 2015. And it is now going to set the cat amongst the pigeons with an operation that looks set to represent a golden solution for its competitors and Spain’s banks in general.

The firm has just created the first securitisation fund in Europe from restructured loans. It is a pilot test, involving €265 million of credits, but it will likely open the way for other Spanish entities to dispose of the majority of their problematic loans without having to sell them to vulture funds at knockdown prices.

Blackstone completed the purchase of Catalunya Banc’s problematic mortgage portfolio for almost €3,600 million in April 2015 – the portfolio had a nominal value of more than €6,000 million – that sale was a condition for BBVA to acquire the Catalan group. The purchase was structured through a fund to which Blackstone contributed €3,598.4 million and the FROB the remaining €524.9 million.

The well trodden path

Now Blackstone, which has spent almost a year “negotiating” with the CNMV to obtain approval for this operation’s prospectus, is selling these mortgages to qualifying investors through a traditional securitisation fund, like the ones created in Spain to finance the credit boom until the outbreak of the financial crisis, but with the difference, given that this time the fund involves restructured loans. In other words, it contains credits whose conditions have been altered to allow the borrowers to afford the repayments.

Financial sources explain that, rather than discounts of 70%, such as those being applied to the direct sale of portfolios through bilateral contracts between entities and the funds who are active in this niche of the market – such as Apollo, Lone Star and Centerbridge, as well as Blackstone – these mortgages may now be placed on the market with discounts of less than 10% for the most subordinated (higher risk) tranches.

Nevertheless, these portfolios contain loans that borrowers have been repaying for more than 37 months without any help, thanks to the economic recovery, in other words, they contain “high quality” problem loans. In total, they will generate returns of more than 100 basis points above Euibor and so represent an interesting alternative for investors looking to take on more risk in the almost-zero interest rate environment.

Original story: Expansión (by Daniel Badía)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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