Santander Engages Morgan Stanley To Execute Express Sale Of Popular’s Property

29 June 2017 – Voz Pópuli

Banco Santander does not want to waste any time with its sale of Popular’s properties. The entity chaired by Ana Botín has engaged Morgan Stanley to execute an express plan to get rid of the problem assets that it has inherited from its subsidiary, according to financial sources consulted by Vozpópuli. Sources at Santander declined to comment.

According to the same sources, the mandate does not outline the sale of specific assets, but rather it defines which would be the best solution: the rapid transfer of assets in large batches; the reactivation of Ángel Ron’s old idea of creating a bad bank (Project Sunrise); the transfer of assets to Testa and Metrovacesa; or taking things more slowly to benefit from the economic recovery.

It is about putting the real estate balance sheet in order and defining the best path for each asset type. But Morgan Stanley’s work, which is being led by its CEO, Juan González Pedrol, will not focus only on resolving Popular’s existing property puzzle. It is also meeting investors to get them to analyse assets and prepare bids.

The fact that Santander has already committed to a mandate of this calibre shows that it is not afraid of reducing the volume of problem assets, which amount to almost €50,000 million after the merger. That is something that investors would penalise in the event that those assets stagnated on the bank’s balance sheet. In that context, a few weeks ago, Botín committed to cutting Popular’s real estate exposure in half by 2019.

The person responsible for this task at Santander is Javier García Carranza, Deputy General Manager of the group and Head of Restructuring, Real Estate, Investments and Venture Capital. García Carranza joined Santander from Morgan Stanley, where he used to be responsible for Real Estate in London.

The mandate given to his former entity is one of the most sought-after in the investment banking sector, alongside the capital increase, from which Morgan Stanley has been ruled out. Names still in the running for that €7,000 million-operation include Citigroup and UBS, as global coordinators, and Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, BBVA, HSBC and CaixaBank, according to Bloomberg (…).

Saracho’s plan suspended

One of the first measures introduced by Santander after it took control of Popular was to suspend the operations that Saracho’s team had set in motion. The former management team had at least two portfolios on the market (…).

Sources in the market expect Santander and Morgan Stanley to bring a large portfolio onto the market before the end of the year, given that there is a lot of demand from large international funds. The clean-up conducted during the merger, of almost €8,000 million, means that the group is ready for these operations.

Following the merger, Santander has accumulated problem assets amounting to €48,417 million, according to the latest official figures. Of those, €36,800 million come from Popular, with a coverage after extraordinary provisions of 66%, and €11,600 million from Santander, which before the merger held a coverage of 57%. That means that the new Santander-Popular entity has more assets than Sareb.

In addition, the group holds other investments, such as its stakes in Metrovacesa, Sareb and Testa Residencial, which, in the case of Santander alone, amount to €5,300 million.

Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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