Popular Puts €500M Distressed Asset Portfolio Up For Sale

21 April 2017 – El Mundo

Banco Popular, the Spanish entity that is under the most pressure from the ECB to accelerate the cleanup of its balance sheet, is starting to debut on the wholesale market, in search of investors interested in its portfolios of distressed assets. The entity has committed to eliminating €15,000 million from its balance sheet by 2018, which represents almost half of its total risk.

The latest move has been to put a portfolio of distressed assets up for sale, amounting to €500 million. The portfolio is sparking potential interest amongst funds that specialise in buying portfolios at low prices to generate returns from them later through the recovery of their value or their resale. Banco Popular told this newspaper that it does not have any portfolios of that kind up for sale and that it only publicises such operations once they have been completed, however, two financial sources consulted separately, confirmed otherwise.

The portfolio up for sale is the largest, by volume, that the entity has marketed since it began its timid cleanup process at the end of 2016. In January, whilst the entity’s former Chairman was in the middle of being replaced, Popular sold a portfolio of debt, amounting to €200 million and secured by hotel assets. It also placed a €400 million portfolio, secured by homes, parking spaces and storerooms. The purchasers in those cases were the investment funds Apollo and Blackstone, respectively.

The sense in the financial markets is that this move by Banco Popular will be the first of many whereby the entity will try to offload new portfolios of assets in order to fulfil the “ambitious and realistic” strategies that the regulators have been requiring of it since 20 March to clean up its balance sheet and achieve the established capital and risk coverage ratios.

Changes in the sector

In fact, Popular is far from the only entity to be placing portfolios of this kind on the market. So far this year, entities such as Bankia, Sabadell, Deutsche Bank and BBVA have placed €1,600 million with specialist funds such as Blackstone, Grove and Oaktree. (…).

Original story: El Mundo (by César Urrutia)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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