Banks Sell €11,000M NPLs To Clean Up Their B/Ss

30 June 2016 – El Confidencial

Property is still the main obstacle facing Spain’s banks. Although the majority of the domestic financial entities will comfortably pass the European Central Bank (ECB)’s upcoming stress test, most are still weighed down by non-performing loans linked to the real estate sector, which are blackening their balance sheets. To this end, CaixaBank, Bankia, Sabadell, Popular and even Deutsche Bank have put portfolios of non-performing loans up for sale amounting to almost €11,000 million, according to data compiled by El Confidencial.

The most active bank is Sabadell, which has engaged KPMG, PwC and N+1 to help get rid of €3,100 million in consumer loans, credit cards and loans granted to property developers. Of that amount, €1,000 million was sold to the funds Lindorff and Grove Capital last month in an operation known as Corus. Now, the entity has another €1,700 million on the market (Project Normandy), containing foreclosed loans from real estate developers and almost €500 million (Pirenee) corresponding to a mixture of assets. The entity is looking to close both transactions before the summer holidays.

After Sabadell, the most active bank in cleaning up its balance sheet is CaixaBank, which has two processes underway and one in the bag. These include the so-called “Project Carlit”, launched in April with the help of PwC to sell off €750 million in loans linked to shopping centres, offices and the industrial sector; and “Project Sun”, a portfolio of loans granted to almost 150 hotels that the entity foreclosed from businessmen in the sector. In total, around €1,000 million in non-performing loans.

The latter is backed by 11,000 tourist rooms, and several opportunistic funds may be interested, including Starwood, Davidson Kempner Capital and Bank of America. Those entities previously acquired similar liabilities from Bankia in 2014 and 2015 for €1,200 million. In Septemeber, the Catalan entity is planning to launch “Project More 2” containing €200 million of real estate loans, again with the help of PwC.

Bankia, which last year failed to find a buyer for its huge real estate portfolio containing €4,800 million of assets has engaged KPMG, Deloitte and PwC to advise it in 3 of its operations: “Project Lane” (€288 million), “Project Oceana” (€396 million) and “Project Tizona” (€1,000 million). The latter comprises residential mortgages and is the second part of the transaction known as “Project Wind”, when the entity sold €1,300 million in similar liabilities to the fund Oaktree.

Alongside these three major players, several other entities also have operations on the market, including Popular, Banca Mare Nostrum, Abanca (which just sold €1,300 million in NPLs to EOS) and Ibercaja…But the entity that has drawn the most attention is Deutsche Bank, because it had not chosen to clean up its accounts in this way until now. The German group, the only foreign bank with a presence in Spain, which has an extensive network of offices, is sounding out institutional investors regarding the sale of €800 million in non-performing mortgages.

Although the German entity was not greatly impacted by the real estate crash, thanks to its prudent strategy vis-à-vis granting property-related loans, the truth is that it was weighed down by packages of unpaid loans from high income clients. Antonio Rodríguez-Pina, Chairman of the bank’s Spanish subsidiary, has decided to get rid of these NPLs in order to improve its balance sheet and reduce the default ratio, a measure that coincides with Deutsche Bank’s decision to continue its operations in Spain, for the time being. (…).

Original story: El Confidencial (by Agustín Marco)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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