Popular Abandons Sunrise To Pursue Other RE Solutions

29 March 2017 – Cinco Días

Speculation about the future of Banco Popular has not dissipated following Emilio Saracho’s arrival as the entity’s new President on 20 February, although it is true that it has tempered slightly. The bank’s low solvency ratios, after it completed a major cleanup effort in 2016, are fueling those rumours and it seems that until the entity shows the market that it is capable of resurrecting itself like Ave Fénix, through some kind of major sales operation, then the market will not stop seeing it as an easy target.

Popular’s level of regulatory capital stood at 8.17% in December, below the 10.5% required by the ECB in January 2019 and also below the average for the sector. Most of its capital consumption is due to its high-risk level, itself a consequence of its large property portfolio, the main problem in all of this. However, a substantial number of the solutions designed by the former President, Ángel Ron, have now disappeared or have been modified. (…)

One project that has been buried almost completely, although it has barely been acknowledged that it is not going to be carried out, is Sunrise. That was Ron’s star project, to eliminate a large part of the entity’s real estate portfolio.

The idea was to transfer around €6,000 million in real estate assets to this vehicle, which was going to be deconsolidated from Banco Popular’s balance sheet, after securing a complex financing structure, and its subsequent debut on the stock market.

It seems that Saracho has not approved of that project since he arrived at the bank and has decided to shut it away in a drawer, never opened. Now questions are being asked about what will happen to Remigio Iglesias and Roberto Rey, two executives hired by Popular last year to serve as the President and CEO of Sunrise, respectively.

Another option still open to Popular is to turn to the European bad bank, which the ECB is expected to create, according to market sources. In fact, Popular’s share price was the most bullish on Tuesday, with an increase of 3.24%, after the European Banking Authority said that it was in favour of creating a European bad bank to solve the problematic loan phenomenon, a project that is also supported by the ECB.

Original story: Cinco Días (by Ángeles Gonzalo Alconada)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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