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npl-reo Market News: Spanish Real Estate Intelligence

Ibercaja Finalises the Sale of a €600M Real Estate Portfolio

8 December 2018 - El Periódico de Aragón

Ibercaja is continuing to take steps to best position itself ahead of its stock market debut, which is scheduled for next spring. The Aragon-based bank wants to divest more real estate assets before the end of the year to clean up its balance sheet and improve profitability, an objective that it expects will materialise in the coming weeks with the sale of a portfolio of problem assets worth around €600 million, according to confirmation provided by the entity yesterday to this newspaper. To carry out this operation, which is called Project Cierzo, it has engaged the investment bank Alantra, which is finalising the negotiations to find a buyer.

The move by Ibercaja follows the widespread practice across the whole Spanish financial sector and forms part of its strategic plan for 2018-2020, whose goals include the aim of reducing its toxic property assets by half (doubtful and foreclosed) with the mixed sale of around €2 billion in land and housing. That would help to improve efficiency, by bringing it below 55%, and would make the entity more attractive for future investors.

During the period 2015-2017, the bank led by Víctor Iglesias (pictured above, left) managed to clean up €1.6 billion. At the end of the third quarter of 2018, the volume of problem assets amounted to €3.9 billion, which represented a decrease of 10.1% (€437 million) with respect to the same period last year and of 7.3% (€304 million) compared to the end of 2017 (€4.2 billion), according to the figures provided by the entity at the beginning of November. Based on those numbers, Project Cierzo – which was revealed by Voz Pópuli – would represent a significant step towards the objective of cutting the entity's real estate balance in half by 2020, as there would be around €1 billion left to achieve that goal.

A month ago, Ibercaja announced that it had engaged the bank Rothschild, as an independent advisor for its stock market debut, a step that European legislation requires it to take before the end of 2020. Currently, the Aragon-based bank is controlled by the Fundación Ibercaja, which owns 87.8% of its share capital, a stake that must be reduced to below 50% to avoid a fine. The other shareholders are the foundations of three former savings banks –CAI, 4.85%; Badajoz, 3.9%; and Círculo de Burgos, 3.45%– which it absorbed when it purchased the Caja3 group in 2013.

The entity is working to ensure that its valuation is as high as possible, and so the specific date for the IPO will depend on the evolution of the market. Nevertheless, it is most likely that it will make the leap during the second quarter of 2019.

Original story: El Periódico de Aragón (by J. H. P.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

 
The Fund Centricus Enters the Bid to Buy Solvia

28 November 2018 - Expansión

A candidate with an exotic air about it has entered the auction for Solvia, the real estate subsidiary controlled in its entirety by Sabadell. The fund Centricus, which is headquartered in London but which has several Chinese and Japanese shareholders, has submitted a binding offer to acquire Sabadell’s asset management platform, according to sources familiar with the process.

Official sources at the bank preferred not to comment in this regard. Centricus wants to enter the Spanish market to compete with the large investment funds specialising in asset management, such as two of the other players interested in Solvia: Cerberus and Intrum, formerly Lindorff.

Centricus manages assets worth more than USD 20 billion and has worked together with the Japanese giant SoftBank to raise funds amounting to USD 100 billion at the international level.

Asian alliances

The British fund also recently joined forces with the Chinese companies China Merchants Group and SPF Group to launch a USD 15 billion fund to invest in technology companies.

Centricus, Cerberus and Intrum have all submitted binding offers for Solvia amounting to more than €300 million. According to sources close to the operation, one of the funds has even offered an amount close to the €400 million that Sabadell aspires to receive. The bank has awarded the mandate to divest Solvia to Alantra.

Sabadell activated the sale of its real estate platform after cleaning up €11.5 billion in toxic assets from its balance sheet. At that time, it preferred to not sell Solvia, like the majority of its competitors did, to try to maximise its revenues. The bank considers that the real estate platform has significant latent profits. Cerberus could be the favourite in the contest since it is now holding advanced conversations with the entity.

Natural buyer

The US fund is the “natural” buyer for Solvia, say financial sources. In fact, during the summer, Cerberus acquired two large portfolios of foreclosed properties from Sabadell (Challenger and Coliseum), with a combined gross value of €9.1 billion.

Sabadell wants to sign the sale of the real estate platform before the end of this year to have its balance sheet free of property remnants. Solvia manages 148,000 assets, with a value of more than €30 billion. In parallel, the bank has also placed up for sale its property developer subsidiary, Solvia Desarrollos Inmobiliarios. The completion of that operation has been delayed until the beginning of 2019.

Original story: Expansión (by R. Sampedro)

Translation: Carmel Drake

 
Cerberus, Intrum & DoBank Bid to Acquire Altamira

15 November 2018 - El Confidencial

There is still an appetite for the servicers' business. The sale of the 85% stake that Apollo owns in Altamira is making its first cut of candidates, with some of the most high profile investors in the segment amongst the finalists. According to financial sources, the fund Cerberus (Haya Real Estate), the Swedish firm Intrum (Nordic Capital) and the Italian firm DoBank (Fortress) are the candidates that have progressed in the process, which is being coordinated by Goldman Sachs, and which was relaunched after the summer following months on the table.

Other players in the sector interested in Spain are also in the process, both at the domestic and European level. One of those new candidates is the US firm Davidson Kempner, which has a portfolio of USD 30 billion under management and with interests in the transformation of toxic assets in the United Kingdom and Ireland, according to sources involved in the operation.

Apollo is willing to take advantage of the hunger for this type of vehicle to make gains, although it does so after four years at the helm of the servicer and having not been awarded any of the large real estate portfolios that the banks have sold (Santander to Blackstone, BBVA to Cerberus, CaixaBank to Lone Star and the Sabadell-Solvia process, in whose final stretch it is not participating). In fact, this divestment comes after Apollo's manager for the last few years – Andrés Rubio – left the fund.

The price of the management platform could reach €1.5 billion (debt included), a business for which Apollo paid €664 million in January 2014 in exchange for an 85% stake (the remaining 15% is still owned by Banco Santander). The agreement comprised the management of toxic assets (recovery of loans and sale of properties) until 2028, although the transformation of that perimeter has led to a change in the management conditions (commissions) and to the repayment of a €200 million dividend.

Altamira has assets under management amounting to more than €50 billion, compared with €26 billion in 2014, and a portfolio comprising more than 82,000 properties at the end of 2017, making it the largest servicer in operation in Spain. In addition to its contract with Santander, it also manages assets for Sareb (which account for 30% of its portfolio) and for third parties – international investors, financial institutions, family offices and institutional clients – as a result of the international expansion plan launched in 2017.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Carlos Hernanz)

Translation: Carmel Drake