Centerbridge Could Raise €200M-€300M From Sale Of Aktua

6 November 2015 – Expansión

The consolidation has begun of the banks’ former real estate companies, also known as servicers. The US fund Centerbridge has put its subsidiary Aktua up for sale, which it acquired from Banesto in 2012. The operation – known as Project Pegasus – has been entrusted to the investment banks Barclays and Bank of America, and to the law firm Linklaters, and has been valued at between €200 million and €300 million, according to various sources.

Aktua currently employs around 400 people and manages real estate assets worth €6,000 million. Alongside the assets that originated from Banesto – whose management it maintained following that entity’s integration with Santander – Centerbridge also manages properties and debt from BMN and several recovery contracts for other entities.

Centerbridge’s withdrawal from the market was first triggered when Aktua lost the contract it had held with Sareb, following that entity’s tender to select new managers in 2014. Since then, those assets have been managed by Altamira, owned by Apollo and Santander, which seems to be the likely candidate to take over Aktua.

Sources in the sector do not rule out the possibility that Aktua will end up in the hands of one of the other servicers that are part-owned by funds operating in Spain, such as Altamira; Aliseda, owned by Värde, Kennedy Wilson and Popular; Haya Real Estate, owned by Cerberus; Servihabitat, owned by TPG and CaixaBank; and Anticipa, owned by Blackstone. They have also not ruled out the possibility that Solvia, owned by Sabadell, will enter the process, since it was awarded one of the Sareb contracts.

With these kinds of operations, international funds are looking to obtain scale and efficiency in order to make their platforms more profitable. These investors spent almost €2,300 million buying servicers from the banks.

According to Reuters, new funds, interested in entering the sector for the first time, may also join the bidding, such as the private equity firm Permira.

In addition to these possible mergers, experts in the sector also expect that some of the entities that have not outsourced the management of their assets may do so. In fact, Ibercaja is progressing with Project Kite, which includes 6,900 residential units, 1,300 commercial premises and industrial warehouses and 600 plots of land, worth €800 million, and a team of professionals specialising in the segment, comprising around 50 employees.

Centerbridge’s exit from this business comes at a time when other opportunistic funds are also leaving the market, such as Elliott, which recently sold its recovery management platform to Cabot; and Fortress, which has put two of its main businesses in Spain up for sale: the financing company Lico Leasing and the loan management platform Paratus.

Original story: Expansión (by J. Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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