Banks speed up the sale of non strategic assets in order to reinforce their capital.

Banks have placed the “For sale” sign on most of its assets and businesses. Either to reduce their balance, or to increase the capital base or even to improve their efficiency, financial institutions have speeded up the sale of non strategic businesses during the last few months. And, according to experts, this is only the beginning of a trend which will continue in 2013.

Those institutions that have received financial aid, such as Bankia, Catalunya Banc or NCG Banco, are the most active ones when negotiating disinvestments, as imposed by Brussels. Nevertheless, healthy institutions are also taking the initiative. (…)

There are all kind of different businesses on sale: insurance companies, fund and retirement pensions management companies and deposit companies. They are also studying the sale of more strategic areas for banks such as the recovery services, real estate management platforms or even the segment of credit cards. In the short term, nationalized banks may also transfer network of branches and participated companies.

Banks started to get rid of the insurance business once the crisis started. All institutions have obtained gains with the agreements on insurances or the sale of portfolios. These agreements will allow them to liberate capital, which is absorbed on a greater scale by insurances, facing Basel III.

In other segments, Popular has been one of the most active institutions in Spain. It transferred 51% of its fund management company to Allianz in 2011, it outsourced its business of custody and liquidation of national and international securities to BNP; and has closed the sale  of its recovery services to EOS Group and a portfolio of troubled loans of 1150 million Euros to Lindorff and AnaCap.

That type of business and portfolios is the one with the most agreements during this last year. Santander was the pioneer in this field, transferring its recovery subsidiary, Reintegra, to Lindorff, in 2011. Banesto followed its steps last year when it sold Aktua to Centerbridge.

Now, institutions such as Bankia and CaixaBank want to go ahead transferring their teams specialized in the management and recovery of real estate assets. Bankia Habitat, will be in new hands from May on. Meanwhile, CaixaBank wants to do the same with Servicaixa, according to Bloomberg.

The fund management companies are another non strategic segment, although the sale agreements are still scarce in this sector. One of the last operations, other than the Popular one to Allianz, is the sale of the management company to Liberbank, acquired by Banco Madrid.

Apart from the transfer or outsourcing of businesses and services, experts hope for more operations of strategic assets for institutions, mainly because of the requirements imposed by the troika in order to approve the Spanish financial rescue. Investment banks sources do not dismiss new operations such as the BMN one, which transferred the former Caixa Penedes to Banco Sabadell.

An increase in the sale of participated companies by nationalized and healthy institutions is also expected. La Caixa has already done so, with the sale of 3% of Abertis to OHL. The Catalan savings bank needs to close new disinvestments with the aim of complying with the new requirements from Brussels. (…)

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