Lone Star & Cerberus Increase their Commitment to Spanish Property

21 February 2019 – Expansión

The need for the banks to reduce their exposure to property and the funds’ appetite for the Spanish real estate sector have converged in recent years leading to the transfer of portfolios of debt and foreclosed assets worth millions of euros. Blackstone, Cerberus, Lone Star, the Canadian pension fund (CPPIB), Bain, Axactor and Lindorff are the funds that have been behind most of the major transactions involving portfolios of bank debt secured by real estate collateral during that period.

Emilio Portes, Director of Quantitative & Risk Management at JLL for Southern Europe, said that, following a frantic 2017 when more than €55 billion was transacted, last year saw portfolios sold with a gross value of more than €45 billion (…).

In 2018, the indisputable star was Lone Star, which took control of a portfolio worth around €12.8 billion from CaixaBank. Specifically, CaixaBank sold that portfolio along with Servihabitat to a company called Coral Homes in which Lone Star owns an 80% stake. Cerberus was also active last year with the purchase of several portfolios from Sabadell, Santander and CaixaBank with a total gross value of €12.5 billion. Behind it, came CPPIB, Axactor, D.E. Shaw and Lindorff, according to data provided by JLL.

“The sum of the transactions recorded over the last two years exceeds €100 billion, which places Spain as one of the countries with the largest transaction volume in Europe and the most liquid in terms of real transactions”, says Portes. In those portfolios, there are various types of assets, mainly residential, but also land, offices, premises and hotels.

The year ahead

During 2019, the banks will continue to divest assets, although with smaller portfolio sales. “In 2019, we expect a transaction volume of €20 billion, in addition to whatever Sareb ends up doing”, revealed Portes. He explains that most of the large Spanish banks have now reduced their NPA (non-performing asset) ratios to below 5%.

Following the activity undertaken by the large banks, all eyes are now focused on the medium and small-sized entities, particularly those with the greatest property exposure and therefore most pressure, as well as on Sareb, which has assets worth more than €35 billion still left to sell (…).

The heirs of the banks’ property, having purchased at significant discounts, have an average investment horizon of five years before they undo their positions (…)

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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