29 December 2016 – El Confidencial
CaixaBank is going to close 2016 with a healthier balance sheet, thanks to the latest divestment operation that it is about to sign. According to financial sources, the banking institution led by Gonzalo Gortázar (pictured above), has reached an agreement with Apollo Global Management to sell €700 million in foreclosed assets linked to the hotel sector. The US fund is hereby going to acquire 20 four- and five-star holiday establishments that the bank has been holding in its portfolio following non-payments by customers.
The transaction, which has been dubbed Project Sun, is just awaiting the finishing touches from CaixaBank and Apollo, the opportunistic fund that purchased 84% of Banco Santander’s real estate company – Altamira – for €664 million and all of Evo Banco, which previously belonged to the former Novacaixagalicia for €80 million, amongst other things. Nevertheless, the agreement between the bank headquartered in Barcelona and the NYC-based firm is limited to two thirds of the portfolio that was initially put up for sale.
The Spanish financial institution, which has been advised by Alantra, had valued Project Sun at around €1,000 million, on the basis that it contained, on the one hand, unpaid loads secured by 112 hotels; and, on the other hand, 32 establishments that the bank had foreclosed due to non-payment. According to the internal documentation from the sales notebook, in total, 11,000 rooms were put up for sale, the largest hotel portfolio of the year. But at the last minute, the entity has decided to get rid of debt amounting to only around €350 million and 20 hotels worth a similar figure, which means that 12 properties have been left out of the agreement with Apollo Global Management.
The reason is that the offers that it received for these other holiday establishments were well below their respective book values, and so they have chosen to not sell them now so as to sell them for a bad price. Most of the hotels and loans are located in Andalucía (37), Cataluña (22) and the Canary Islands (19). Besides Apollo, which has been advised by Arcano and by Gustavo Gabardo, former Director General of NH Hoteles, CaixaBank had also received interest for this portfolio from other so-called vulture funds, such as Starwood, Cerberus, Oaktree and Bank of America, which had already acquired assets from Bankia, Santander, Sareb and Sabadell.
With this transaction, CaixaBank is going to close the year with €2,400 million less in terms of overdue debt, having already completed the sale of other non-performing loan portfolios. On 30 November, it got rid of the portfolio known as “Far”, which it sold for €700 million to Lindorff and D. E. Shaw. In July, it did the same with another package of unpaid credits for €900 million (Project Carlit), which it sold to Goldman Sachs and D. E. Shaw. (…).
This is the eleventh operation of its kind that CaixaBank has completed since it started to try to remove toxic loans from its balance sheet. (…). Over the last two years, it has managed to get rid of non-performing loans amounting to almost €6,000 million, a strategy that has allowed it to reduce its default rate from almost 12% at the height of the financial crisis to just 8.7%.
Original story: El Confidencial (by Agustín Marco)
Translation: Carmel Drake