Cerberus Gets its Cheque Book out again to Buy NPLs from CaixaBank

4 December 2017 – Voz Pópuli

Cerberus is stepping on the accelerator in Spain. The US fund has starred in another major operation just days after acquiring a real estate portfolio from BBVA. One of Cerberus’s subsidiaries, Gescobro, has won an auction for €0.8 billion in non-performing loans and real estate from CaixaBank.

The fund has purchased part of that portfolio, known as Project Egeo, whilst the Norwegian group Lindorff has bought the rest, according to financial sources consulted by this newspaper.

Part (€0.5 billion – €0.6 billion) of this €0.8 billion portfolio comprises unsecured loans (credit cards, personal loans and others without any guarantee) and just over €0.2 billion relates to loans to SMEs secured by real estate.

This is Cerberus’s fourth operation in the Spanish financial and real estate sector in 2017 following the acquisition of Project Jaipur from BBVA (€0.6 billion in non-performing property developer loans; the purchase of the real estate arm of Liberbank, Mihabitans, for €85 million; and the acquisition of €13 billion in property from BBVA for €4 billion.

Strategic fit

The sale of Project Egeo, which is still pending the completion of the necessary paperwork, forms part of the routine divestment plans of the Catalan group. In this way, it is managing and controlling its default rate and complying with the regulatory requirements of the European Central Bank (ECB).

Currently, the group’s default rate stands at 6.4%, after falling by seven tenths in the last year. In total, its doubtful loans amount to €15.3 billion, of which €13.9 billion are in Spain. It has another €7.2 billion in foreclosed assets.

The firm that has won the auction, Gescobro, has been led by Iheb Nafaa until now, but he was recently poached by Servihabitat, the real estate company owned by TPG (51%) and CaixaBank (49%).

Meanwhile, Lindorff has been one of the main competitors in the bank debt market since 2012. More than a year ago, it expanded its real estate business with the purchase of Aktua, the former real estate arm of Banesto; and it strengthened its business through a merger with Intrum Justicia.

Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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