Bankia Begins its Spring Cleaning in Earnest, Selling off Real Estate Assets

31 August 2018

The financial institution has so far lagged behind the other banks’ efforts to unload their portfolios of foreclosed real estate properties.

Since the end of 2014, after having transferred the worst of its assets to Sareb, Bankia has sold €4.2 billion defaulted loans to institutional investors. According to Moody’s, it is the banking institution which has sold off the most assets since then. However, the sales of much of the property inherited by many of Spain’s largest banks to investment funds has left Bankia behind in the clean-up process. The bank still has properties valued at €4.761 billion and another €10.809 billion euros in NPLs (developers and non-developers).

These assets account for roughly 8% of Bankia’s total assets. This percentage contrasts with BBVA, CaixaBank and Sabadell, whose sales have left their exposure at 4% or less, a level considered acceptable by the major rating agencies. They will lower their exposure to that of Bankinter’s in just a few months, which barely financed any developers during the credit boom.

Changed dynamics

BBVA sold a portfolio of 78,000 flats, stores and garages to Cerberus and €1 billion in delinquent loans to a Canadian fund this year. CaixaBank transferred its entire real estate portfolio to Lone Star -leaving out the Banco de Valencia – just holding on to its delinquent loans. Finally, Sabadell’s exposure will fall to just one billion euros of foreclosed properties.

Santander was the institution that began the change, with its sale last summer of most of the assets it inherited from Popular, within a few weeks of acquiring the bank.

Publicly, Bankia’s management has indicated that they will maintain their policy regarding sales of medium-sized portfolios (up to 500 million euros) so as not to generate losses for the bank. This way it may avoid the discounts of between 60% and 80% that the funds have been achieving when acquiring the large portfolios of real estate assets.

So far this year, Bankia sold a €290-million portfolio to Golden Tree, with two more in preparation, one worth €450 million and another €400 million. The merger with BMN added even more toxic assets to the bank’s balance sheet. 71% of the buildings are finished homes, which are more easily sold. Haya Real Estate (Cerberus) is in charge of marketing, with which the bank just renegotiated its contract after the merger with BMN. So far this year, the group has sold apartments and stores worth 309 million euros. The percentage of land in the portfolio is small, at 6.7%. “We were the first to sell portfolios. For the type of asset we have, we believe that the placement of medium-sized portfolios is what gives us the best result in terms of price, because that is where we find more interest and competition from interested buyers,” the CEO of Bankia explained.

As a result, in 2012, Bankia transferred its worst assets (in large part, delinquent loans to developers) to Sareb, the bad bank. It transferred assets worth €22.317 billion, of which €2.850 billion came from its parent BFA. For its part, BMN transferred assets valued at €5.819 billion to the public vehicle.

Sareb applied a 45% discount to the loans to developers, 63% to ongoing developments and 79.5% to land.

The flats and NPLs only generate expenses – payments of local taxes – and no income, therefore decreasing the banks’ profitability. That is why it is so important for the banks to get rid of the real estate as quickly as possible. In the case of BBVA, the bank could double its level of profitability in two years, according to Alantra. Something similar could occur with CaixaBank and Sabadell.

Bankinter’s healthy balance sheet is the reason why it has an ROE ratio (13%) that is much higher than that of its competitors.

An eventual sale of Bankia’s real estate holdings could also help boost its stock market price, to reduce the possible need for public aid, according to analysts.

The firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods believes that Bankia will continue to have the second-worst ratio of unprofitable assets of Spain’s listed banks in 2019 and 2020, only behind Liberbank.

Santander Spain is in the middle of the group because while it cleaned up Popular, it has yet to follow through on Santander’s own, original exposure.

Original Story: ProOrbyt Expansión – R. Lander

Translation: Richard Turner

 

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