BBVA’s Purchase Of Catalunya Banc Is “Unblocked”

16 April 2015 – El Mundo

Yesterday, the US fund Blackstone finalised its purchase of a portfolio of problematic assets from Catalunya Banc (which is known by its commercial name: ‘Catalunya Caixa’) for €4,123 million. This transaction unblocks the acquisition of that entity by BBVA, which now just needs to be approved by the EU’s competition authorities.

The Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring (the FROB) confirmed yesterday that the transaction had been conducted through the transfer of the portfolio to an asset securitisation fund, with the support of the public body itself, which sits under the Ministry of the Economy.

Specifically, the FROB will subscribe to a bond issue amounting to €524.9 million, whilst Blackstone will contribute €3,598.4 million. As a result of this transaction, the US fund will acquire a portfolio of problematic loans amounting to almost €6,400 million. Last summer, the portfolio aroused (a great deal of) interest from several funds that specialise in the management of doubtful debts.

Boost to business

The completion of this sale was a necessary condition for BBVA’s purchase of Catalunya Banc to go ahead. BBVA won the competitive tender against Santander and CaixaBank.

The entity chaired by Francisco González offered €1,187 million for the ill-fated savings bank, although the final price will be lower once cumulative tax credits have been deducted and because a series of guarantees will take effect in the event that the assets acquired are impaired by more than expected.

This purchase has allowed BBVA to gain a significant presence in Catalunya, where it is now the second largest entity by market share (accounting for almost 30%), exceeded only by CaixaBank. The transaction has also allowed BBVA to boost its asset management business, by adding around €2,000 million of assets under management.

Just like in the case of Novagalicia, the tender for Catalunya Banc has received criticism from those who believe that the State has rushed to sell of both of the entities. The losses of the Catalan entity alone amounted to €11,500 million.

Original story: El Mundo (by J. G. Gallego)

Translation: Carmel Drake