Spain’s Banks Plan to Sell Real Estate Worth €12.5bn+ over the Next 2 Years

19 November 2018 – El Economista

The banks have set themselves the deadline of 2020 to reduce the property that remains on their balance sheets to an absolute minimum. On the basis of the strategic plans set out by Bankia, Liberbank, Ibercaja and the portfolio of commercial premises put up for sale by Santander, the entities are planning to divest at least €12.5 billion in non-performing assets over the next 24 months.

At this stage, we do not yet know which objectives CaixaBank will set itself in this regard; the entity will unveil its new strategic plan in London on 27 November. Meanwhile, the entity led by Ana Botín has delayed the presentation of its new objectives to the beginning of next year, as it awaits the evolution of the outcome of the elections held in Brazil in October. The exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, which must take place in March, is also important for the group.

Spain’s entities have accelerated the divestment of their real estate in a frantic fashion over the last 15 months. This summer, Banco Sabadell sold four portfolios of non-performing assets for a combined gross value of €12.2 billion. Those operations allowed the entity to fulfil in one fell swoop the objective that it had set itself in its Strategic Plan 2018-2020 to reduce its non-performing assets by €2 billion per year.

At the end of the third quarter of this year, the entity led by Josep Oliu held €13.62 billion in toxic property left on its balance sheet, nevertheless, once the sales undertaken this summer have been completed, that exposure will be reduced by almost half to €7.67 billion, most of which comprises doubtful loans. The exposure of foreclosed assets has been reduced to around €1.2 billion.

Orderly reduction

With respect to Bankia, in its Strategic Plan to 2020, the entity projected an annual reduction in non-performing assets of €2.9 billion, which would result in the clean-up of €8.7 billion over three years. The bank chaired by José Ignacio Goirigolzarri has divested €2.4 billion during the first three quarters of this year, according to its latest accounts at the end of September, which means that it needs to sell only another €500 million during the final quarter (…).

In the same way, Liberbank closed the third quarter of the year with gross non-performing assets amounting to €3.6 billion, 25% less than it held a year ago. The bank has set itself the objective of leaving €1.7 billion on its balance sheet by the end of 2020, in other words, €1.9 billion less than it currently has.

Finally, Ibercaja, which also unveiled its objectives to 2020 in March, announced its plans to reduce its toxic assets by 50% in three years, which would mean decreasing the balance by around €1.85 billion.

15 months of sales

Santander fired the starting gun on this race with the sale of 50% of Popular’s property to Blackstone, in an operation announced in August last year. Since then, the largest sale by the bank was a portfolio of flats and garages to Cerberus in September, for a purchase price of around €1.535 billion. Thus, the bank still has a second portfolio of foreclosed assets up for sale with a gross value of around €2.4 billion (…).

The most active investment funds to purchase portfolios over the last few months have been Cerberus, Blackstone and Lone Star. Between then three of them, they have made acquisitions of foreclosed assets and doubtful loans from the Spanish banks and Sareb amounting to €48 billion (…).

Original story: El Economista (by Eva Díaz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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