Cerberus & Blackstone Compete to become Largest RE Firm in Spain

16 October 2018 – Expansión

The US funds Cerberus and Blackstone are battling it out for first place on the podium in the Spanish real estate sector. Cerberus, which has just completed the purchase of 80% of BBVA’s real estate business, has invested more than €10 billion in real estate transactions in the country over the last year. Specifically, Cerberus will now control 80% of Divarian Propiedad, the company to which BBVA has transferred its real estate business and in which the bank will retain the remaining 20%. The groups have not disclosed the price of the transaction or the value of the assets included in Divarian, although the bank did indicate at the time that its intention was to transfer assets with a gross accounting value of approximately €13 billion at an estimated price of around €4 billion.

Anida’s workforce

Divarian, which is going to be managed by Cerberus, will incorporate the specialist staff from BBVA’s former real estate platform, Anida, comprising 400 professionals, into its team.

In addition to this operation, known as Project Marina, Cerberus reached an agreement with Santander in the middle of September to purchase a portfolio of residential properties for around €1.535 billion comprising 35,700 properties, including parking spaces and storerooms. This transaction followed Project Jaipur – a portfolio of property developer loans also acquired from BBVA -; the portfolios Challenger and Coliseum, with a combined gross value of around €9.1 billion, acquired from Sabadell; and Ágora, the portfolio that Cerberus purchased from CaixaBank.

In addition to the purchase of real estate portfolios, Cerberus is the owner of: Haya Real Estate, the largest independent Spanish servicer with €40 billion in assets under management; the property developer Inmoglacier; the online real estate agency between individuals Housell; and Gescobro, the debt recovery company.

The fund, which has not specified how much it has invested since it arrived in the country, has become, together with Blackstone, one of the most active players in the purchase of doubtful debt portfolios (NPLs) and foreclosed assets (REO) with real estate collateral, and has closed more than 30 transactions in Spain over the last five years, even before the recovery of the sector.

Testa

Meanwhile, Blackstone has acquired around €20 billion in property since 2012, to which the Socimi specialising in residential rental assets, Testa, must be added, given that the US fund now controls 70% of that firm’s share capital. The fund marked a milestone last year when it purchased 51% of Banco Popular’s real estate business from Santander, with a book value of around €10.3 billion. To group together the assets, Blackstone and Santander created Project Quasar Investment, a company that includes Aliseda.

The fund is also the largest owner of hotels in Spain through HI Partners and Hispania, one of the leaders in the logistics and office ownership market in Spain.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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