29 September 2017 – Expansión
Financial sources explain that the fund may also be interested in acquiring around €4,000 million in foreclosed assets and doubtful real estate loans from the bank.
BBVA’s real estate activity, which centres around Anida, comprises two branches. On the one hand, the manager is in charge of administration. On the other hand, it is responsible for the real estate assets, be they foreclosed properties or loans to property developers. BBVA’s gross exposure to property amounts to €20,190 million, according to the latest available data. The entity has a coverage level of 57%, which reduces its net risk in terms of the real estate sector to €8,760 million.
In a relevant fact sent to Spain’s National Securities Market Commission (CNMV), BBVA reported that it is holding conversations with Cerberus (…). “At this time, it is not possible to determine whether the conversations will end in an agreement or not, or what the terms and conditions of such an agreement, were it to be reached, might be”, said the bank.
Similar to Santander
According to sources, the intention of Cerberus is to acquire a majority stake in the real estate company, similar to the agreement that Santander reached with Blackstone to deconsolidate the real estate risk of Popular. Hours after Brussels authorised the purchase of until then the sixth largest Spanish bank by assets, Santander sold Blackstone a 51% stake in the company to offload its problem assets with a gross value of €30,000 million. That was the largest ever real estate operation in Spain.
If the negotiations with Cerberus prove fruitful, BBVA would follow the template established by Santander. Some sources indicate that Cerberus has decided to try its hardest to buy Anida after not making it past the first round in the bid for Popular’s toxic real estate. In fact, the same sources say that the CEO of Cerberus, John Snow, travelled to Madrid a few weeks ago to meet with BBVA’s President, Francisco González.
The negotiations, with Cerberus as the only interlocutor, are very advanced, say sources in the sector. It is expected that the sale of the majority stake in Anida and of property by BBVA could be completed within the next few weeks.
BBVA is being advised by the law firm Clifford Chance and by a team from the consultancy firm PwC. Meanwhile, Linklaters is advising the US fund, which has also hired JLL for the negotiations.
BBVA is one of a handful of banks that have retained full control over their real estate businesses. During the crisis, several entities sold their management companies to specialist funds to generate profits with which to strengthen their businesses and accelerate the divestment of problem assets. Only Kutxabank (to Lone Star) and Santander (with the transfer of Popular’s business to Blackstone) have managed to close block sales of their management arms and asset portfolios.
Original story: Expansión (by R. Ruiz & R. Sampedro)
Translation: Carmel Drake