27 July 2016 – Expansión
The financial institution is considering taking back control of its real estate platform to improve its margins and create a large global firm to provide services in other countries.
The sale of Altamira could turn full circle. Santander and the US fund Apollo have held meetings in recent weeks to discuss the possibility of the Spanish bank repurchasing 85% of the real estate platform, according to financial sources consulted by Expansión.
These negotiations come just two and a half years after the financial institution decided to get rid of its controlling stake in the real estate platform. Then, Apollo fought off other funds in a competitive process in which it paid €664 million for 85% of the company, generating a gross profit of €550 million for the bank.
According to financial sources consulted, Santander’s new approach has arisen for three main reasons: the aim of creating a new area for the management of doubtful assets at the global level, ahead of the forecast increase in default rates in countries such as Brazil; to improve its margins, given that the current agreement forces the bank to pay commission to Altamira; and to take advantage of the financial improvement that Altamira is enjoying.
For the time being, the plans are in a very preliminary phase and both Santander and Apollo have explored other options for Altamira. One of the options would involve a movement in the opposite direction from the 85% repurchase: namely, to extend Apolllo’s agreement to other countries.
Since Apollo took control of Altamira, changes have been introduced in the management of the platform with the aim of maximising sales. One of the new administrators’ great successes came when the company was awarded one of the four management contracts that Sareb put up for tender at the end of 2013.
Specifically, Altamira Asset Management took over the second largest contract on offer, comprising 44,000 properties and loans to doubtful property developers that had been originated by Catalunya Ciaxa, BMN and Caja 3, worth €14,000 million initially. To win this tender, the platform controlled by Apollo paid out €174 million as a deposit for this contract, which it will recover as it achieves its objectives.
In addition to these assets, Altamira administers foreclosed properties and loans linked to properties from Santander and from its main shareholder Apollo. Nevertheless, the Spanish bank will reduce the perimeter of the assets that it holds on its balance sheet as a result of the merger between Metrovacesa and Merlin Properties.
According to its accounts for 2015, Altamira Asset Management Holdings, the company in which Altamira holds a 85% stake, recorded profits of €25.2 million last year, down by 11% compared to the previous year. Part of that decrease was due to the costs of migrating Sareb’s portfolio of assets. Its turnover amounted to €267 million and the operating profit stood at €81 million. The company forecasts that its profits will increase this year thanks to the sales it will generate from Sareb: “In 2016, we will manage Sareb’s portfolio for the whole year, which is expected to increase the group’s turnover”, according to last year’s annual accounts.
Original story: Expansión (J. Zuloaga)
Translation: Carmel Drake