30 October 2017 – Cinco Días
The sale of the real estate assets proceeding from Popular to Blackstone is not over yet, but the strategy behind the operation is already very clear and will reinforce the US fund’s position as the largest homeowner in Spain. The American firm’s plan involves replicating its previous purchase of banking portfolios linked to real estate on a grand scale. Specifically, the fund will transfer a large part of these homes to several Socimis with the aim of renting them out. A small proportion, the lowest quality properties, will be put up for sale.
In August, Santander sold 51% of Popular’s real estate to Blackstone, together with the real estate management platform Aliseda, which it had previously repurchased from Värde and Kennedy Wilson. These assets (comprising homes, land, office and doubtful debt) were worth around €10,000 million, and so Blackstone will pay almost €5,100 million when the operation is finally closed at the beginning of 2018.
Of that transaction, Blackstone and Santander will manage around 80,000 assets through Aliseda. Of those, 30,000 correspond to homes from property developer loans, according to market sources. Now, it has been revealed that the strategy of the two partners involves transferring approximately 70%, in other words, almost 21,000 homes, to several of the US fund’s Socimis with the aim of putting them up for rent, explain sources in the sector (…).
Blackstone has already followed this strategy in the past. Its first major operation in Spain was the purchase of 40,000 mortgages from the now extinct Catalunya Caixa for €4,123 million in 2015. Next, it created the platform Anticipa Real Estate to manage those assets. Prior to the purchase of Popular’s real estate, it had already acquired around €7,000 million in these types of assets, of which 12,000 were homes.
To create the residential giant, the US firm began to create Socimis to which to transfer its properties for rent. The first of these companies was Albirana Properties, which made its debut on the Alternative Investment Market in March, with a market capitalisation of €170 million and 5,000 rental homes under management.
But that was just the beginning. Since then, Blackstone has created several more Socimis, such as Tourmalet, Torbel, Albirana II and Pegarena, according to the tool Insight View from Iberinform. Now, Blackstone will identify the best homes, put them up for rent and package them into several different Socimis.
Currently, Blackstone is involved in a detailed assessment process of the properties in order to proceed with their appraisal, according to sources in the sector, which will conclude with the completion of the operation during the first quarter next year. The other homes, those that will not be transferred to the Socimis, comprise around 9,000 units. They are the worst quality properties and will likely be put up for sale on the retail market.
Blackstone first entered the rental market with the purchase of homes from Madrid’s Municipal Housing Company in 2013, which it subsequently grouped into the Socimi Fidere, whose shares are also traded on the MAB and which has a market capitalisation of €268 million.
Blackstone, which is led by Claudio Boada as the CEO in Spain, is particularly active in the real estate sector in the country. Last week, it purchased the company HI Partners, the owner of 14 holiday hotels, from Sabadell for €630 million.
Original story: Cinco Días (by Alfonso Simón Ruiz)
Translation: Carmel Drake