Project Ánfora: BBVA Studies €1bn+ Offers from Cerberus, CPPIB & Lone Star

19 November 2018 – Voz Pópuli

BBVA has chosen the three finalists who are going to compete for the largest portfolio of assets currently on the market, Project Ánfora. The entity is holding negotiations with three major North American funds, Cerberus, CPPIB and Lone Star, according to financial sources consulted by Voz Pópuli.

Up for grabs: a portfolio a real estate loans worth €2.5 billion. Some of the offers exceed €1 billion, according to the same sources.

BBVA expects to conclude the process before the end of the year to whereby end 2018 in the best way possible. It will be the last set of annual accounts with Francisco González as President, and at the current pace, they could be closed with one of the largest profits in the group’s history. The entity earned €4.3 billion to September; its record annual profit to date is €6.1 billion, which is registered in 2007.

In addition to Project Ánfora, BBVA has just closed Project Marina: the sale of its real estate arm Anida and of assets worth €13 billion to Cerberus. Nevertheless, the transfer of a large part of those assets, which proceeded from Unnim, is pending authorisation by the Deposit Guarantee Fund (FGD).

Property to zero

Following those two operations, and others in the past – such as the sale of its stake in Testa – the property left on BBVA’s balance sheet is going to almost immaterial. With that, the CEO, Carlos Torres, hopes that the real estate unit will stop weighing down on the group’s income statement from 2019 onwards.

The favourite of the candidates to purchase the €2.5 billion portfolio is Cerberus. Not only because of the appetite that the US fund has been showing regarding the purchase of real estate assets in Spain, but also because of the interest that it will have in Divarian, the new Anida, continuing to manage the assets.

CPPIB (Canada Pension Plan Investment Board) is the other entity that is backing the Spanish market most heavily, through its stake in Altamira and the acquisition of portfolios from Sabadell and BBVA.

Meanwhile, Lone Star has started investing more money in Spain following the changes in its management team and because it wants to gain volume to make its acquisition of CaixaBank’s property profitable.

Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake

171