Blackstone Puts 2 million m2 of Popular’s Residential Land up for Sale

1 October 2018 – Cinco Días

Now that the banks have offloaded their real estate portfolios onto the opportunistic funds that acquired them, it is time for the next move. Those buyers are going to see at first hand whether property developers are interested in buying plots on which to homes can be built all over Spain. The first player to test the market is Blackstone, which has placed a macro-portfolio of land spanning 2 million m2 from Popular on the market; according to market sources, it has the capacity for the construction of more than 18,000 homes.

The operation is being carried out through Aliseda, a company controlled by Blackstone (51%) and Santander (49%). The value of the plots is almost €500 million, according to sources at Aliseda. That real estate firm already revealed, at the start of September, that a sales process was in the pipeline relating to so-called Project Origin (…).

This land proceeds from the toxic assets of Popular, after Santander sold 51% of the property-linked portfolio to Blackstone last year for €5.1 billion. In that portfolio, there were doubtful loans and foreclosed assets, including both homes and land linked to property developers. Of those assets, 42% corresponded to land and work in progress projects. In that operation, the servicer Aliseda was also transferred. That entity is now responsible for managing those assets, recovering doubtful loans and, when recovery is not possible, foreclosing the properties and putting them on the market, like in  the case of this macro-operation.

The details of the operation

The details of the operation reveal a gigantic portfolio. The land portfolio spans 2.05 million m2 for residential use, specifically for the construction of 18,299 homes, on plots located in 43 provinces, but excluding Madrid and Barcelona. In total, 270 assets have been put up for sale.

Blackstone and Santander, through their servicer Aliseda, are giving companies the option of bidding only for the plots that are of interest to them. The real estate firm has opened an online store in which it says around 1,000 interested investors are participating.

Local property developers are expected to be the players most interested in these plots. In fact, Blackstone has decided to put plots on the market in locations where demand has reactivated a bit later, whereby backing the recovery of the property sector across Spain. The fund has entrusted this transaction to the real estate consultancy CBRE.

The portfolio is divided into four categories, based on the type of land. Specifically, 158 assets (58% of the total) corresponding to 888,364 m2 of land, are finalist plots (which can be built on right away) with capacity for 8,691 homes. It has also put some work in progress projects up for sale, in other words, developments that were left unfinished. In that case, there are 39 assets, spanning 174,034 m2 and corresponding to 1,549 homes.

Aliseda is also marketing 33 assets for which the urbanisation process has been started, with capacity for 4,603 homes and another 42 assets without any licences for 4,772 homes.

In terms of the locations, Andalucía, Levante and Galicia account for the majority of the assets. The 10 provinces with the most homes in the portfolio are Murcia (14%), Málaga (12%), Castellón (7%), Valencia (5%), La Coruña (5%), Alicante (4%), Asturias (4%), Navarra (4%) and Zaragoza (3%).

Property developers interested in bidding for one or more of the plots will have until the end of October to do so and Aliseda expects to close the operations during December.

To put the gigantic size of the portfolio being marketed by Aliseda into context, it is worth comparing it with the land banks owned by some of the large listed property developers. Only Metrovacesa (in which Santander and BBVA hold stakes) owns more land. It currently owns plots for 38,000 homes, with a gross value of €2.686 billion, according to its most recent accounts. In the case of Aedas, it has a landbank for 14,521 homes and Neinor has land for another 13,500 units (…).

It remains to be seen whether the appetite of property developers for these locations outside of Madrid and Barcelona, the most active markets, is sufficient and whether they will be capable of swallowing up this supply. It is the first time that interest in the market for land proceeding from bank assets has been tested on such a large scale (…).

Original story: Cinco Días (by Alfonso Simón Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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