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All Market News: Spanish Real Estate Intelligence

Blackstone Will Pay Merlin, Santander & BBVA €948M for 50.01% of Testa

18 September 2018 - Cinco Días

Another major movement in the real estate sector and with the same star as the buyer: the US giant Blackstone. After acquiring the Socimi Hispania, which specialises in hotels, the fund has now set its sights on Testa, the largest owner of rental housing in Spain.

Blackstone has already agreed to purchase 50.01% of the Socimi (...) from three of Testa’s largest shareholders (Merlin Properties, Santander and BBVA), according to a statement filed by the real estate company with the Alternative Investment Market (MAB) on Monday. Nevertheless, Acciona, the other major shareholder, has not sold its stake. The US fund manager is carrying out the operation through the company Tropic Real Estate Holding and is paying €948 million, whereby valuing Testa at €1.895 billion.

Blackstone is paying €14.327 per share. The company's closing price at the end of trading on Friday was €14, representing a premium of just over 2%.

Blackstone is keeping the offer open for the other shareholders. In fact, the document sent to the exchange by Testa explains that the bidder “has committed to buying all of the remaining shares in the company” under the same conditions.

Testa’s shareholders regard this operation as an exit following their failure to launch a major IPO in June, when the political uncertainty, above all surrounding Italy, caused a surge in the markets. The intention of Merlin, Santander and BBVA (and to a lesser extent Acciona, which wanted to remain as an industrial partner) was to divest their stakes with that great stock market debut. Now they have found an escape route with Blackstone as the buyer.

Merlin also reported on Monday that with this operation, it will raise €321.2 million in exchange for its 16.95% stake in Testa. The funds obtained by Merlin will be used to reduce its debt in line with the objectives set out in the company’s business plan.

BBVA, which owned 25.24% of Testa has also sold all of its shares. Meanwhile, Santander sold just 7.82% of the 36.87% that it held in Testa, which made possible the operation that has given Blackstone control over the entity.

The new Testa Residencial is a listed real estate investment company promoted in 2016 by the banks and Merlin. The latter company had been left with homes following its purchase of the former Testa from Sacyr in 2015; meanwhile, Santander and BBVA contributed rental homes from the property developer Metrovacesa. Finally, last year, Acciona incorporated more than 1,000 homes, worth €340 million, to close the current alliance between the four shareholders.

Testa is currently the market leader in the residential rental sector in Spain. It has a portfolio of 10,615 units, worth €2.675 billion, mainly private housing, with annualised gross rental income of €85 million and an occupancy rate of 91.4%.

Original story: Cinco Días 

Translation: Carmel Drake

 
Cerberus to Buy €5M Portfolio from Santander whilst BdE Reviews its Deal with Sabadell

19 September 2018 - El Confidencial

Banco Santander has chosen a buyer for the last portfolio of toxic assets that it still has on its balance sheet. The chosen entity is Cerberus, the opportunistic fund with which the bank chaired by Ana Botín has been holding exclusive negotiations for the sale of the so-called Apple portfolio, which has a nominal value of €5.1 billion, according to confirmation from sources close to the operation. If the deal is closed, the US entity will be the owner of a large part of the real estate business of Santander, BBVA and Banco Sabadell.

The final agreement depends exclusively on locking down the price that Cerberus is offering and that Santander hopes to obtain. The operation could be closed for a price of between €2.8 billion and €3.2 billion, according to the same sources. Banco Santander declined to make any official comment about this information, just like Cerberus. Debtwire, the specialist medium for professionals in financial markets revealed the name of the US fund as the main candidate to acquire this portfolio on 3 September.

If the exclusive talks prove fruitful, Cerberus will fight off competition from Apollo, Lone Star and Blackstone, the other three vulture funds that have also bid for this portfolio of homes, premises and land that Santander foreclosed in exchange for the non-payment of loans by its clients. In theory, the natural winner of the auction was going to be Apollo, which reached an agreement in principle with the Cantabrian bank at the beginning of August for around €2.9 billion.

Nevertheless, that deal fell apart in the middle of last month, to the anger of the fund led at that time by Andrés Rubio, President of Altamira, the real estate company owned jointly by Apollo and Santander since 2013. Rubio left Apollo in the middle of the transaction, which further weakened that firm’s chances of becoming Santander’s natural partner.

With this operation, Spain's banks will complete the transfer of the majority of the risk linked to the property sector that they still have left over following the financial crisis. In fact, Santander already sold half of the toxic portfolio that it inherited from Popular last summer 2017 - €30 billion – to Blackstone for around €5 billion. Afterwards, BBVA placed almost €13 billion with Cerberus, whilst Lone Star acquired a portfolio worth €6.7 billion from CaixaBank along with its real estate arm Servihabitat.

The most recent high profile transaction announced was the purchase by Cerberus of €9 million of doubtful assets from Sabadell. Nevertheless, that operation is now being reviewed by the Ministry of the Economy given that the Deposit Guarantee Fund is going to have to recognise losses of around €3 billion as a result. That money will go against the State’s own income statement, given that what the Catalan bank, headquartered in Madrid, has sold to the US fund is the former Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo (CAM) portfolio, for which it received an asset protection scheme (EPA) (…).

Original story: El Confidencial (by Agustín Marco)

Translation: Carmel Drake

 
Axactor Buys 1,500 Assets From a Spanish Bank Worth €102M

17 September 2018 - Eje Prime

Axactor is continuing to heat up its Norwegian capital with Spanish real estate. The Scandinavian fund has purchased a portfolio containing almost 1,500 foreclosed assets from a Spanish bank whose value amounts to €102 million. With this deal, the European company has now completed seven operations in the Spanish real estate sector.

The portfolio, called Omega B, has been transferred to Axactor under the joint venture format: the financial entity, whose name has not been revealed, will retain ownership of 25% of the assets, whilst the remainder will pass into the hands of the Norwegian fund.

Since its arrival in the Spanish real estate market in 2017, Axactor has accumulated more than 8,000 assets under management. One of the largest operations that the Norwegian fund has completed in the last year was the acquisition of a portfolio of problem assets from Banco Sabadell worth €900 million.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake