27 December 2016 – Vozpópuli
BBVA is reorganising its real estate management team to accelerate the divestment of its property portfolio. The entity chaired by Francisco González has agreed to the early retirement of Agustín Vidal-Aragón (pictured above), the Director who has been responsible for Anida and BBVA Real Estate since 2014. His departure, at 55 years old, comes at a time when the bank wants to shake up its business and make the real estate hangover disappear from its balance sheet as soon as possible, according to financial sources consulted by Vozpópuli. Sources at the bank declined to comment.
Javier Rodrígeuz Soler, Director of Strategy and M&A will take over the reins. He is one of the directors who has gained the most influence in the bank’s organisational chart in recent times. He reports directly into González and comes from McKinsey, like the bank’s number two in charge, Carlos Torres.
Over the last few years, Vidal-Aragón had held several different roles in BBVA, incuding Director of Pensions and Insurance in Latin America and Regional Director in Andalucía, before he was appointed Head of Real Estate in May 2014. At the time he replaced Antonio Bejar, who moved to take over the reins at Operación Chamartín.
Sources in the market consider that BBVA has fallen behind its competitors in terms of divesting its real estate portfolio under Vidal-Aragón’s mandate. According to the most recent publicly available figures, the bank still has more than €22,000 million in real estate exposure in Spain, one of the largest balances in the sector.
Rodríguez Soler is expected to place much greater emphasis on the sale of large real estate packages through the wholesale markets, aimed at large international funds. One example of this is the operation that the bank put on the market two months ago: Project Buffalo, through which it is seeking to remove 4,000 homes from its balance sheet.
Another strategic turn is linked to a change in philosophy. Until now, the culture at BBVA was to preserve the maximum value of its properties on the balance sheet, rejecting offers even if they equated to book value. From now on, they will think about property as an inheritance that they need to get rid of as soon as possible and at the best possible price, in that order in terms of priorities.
Rodríguz Soler has created a team of his own to handle this challenge. The following people will report directly into him: Juan de Ortueta (Foreclosed assets), Juan Pedro del Castillo (Financing) and Ana Fernández Manrique (Strategy and Finance). In addition, he has recruited Pedro Egea from the Secretary General’s team, who will take care of all of the administration and control aspects of the real estate business.
Another change is that Cesáreo Rey, Head of Investments, will report into Rodríguez Soler’s area. He will do so directly to one of his trusted executives, José Ferrís. On balance, the new strategy seeks to get rid of the old inheritance.
Original story: Vozpópuli (by Jorge Zuloaga)
Translation: Carmel Drake