16 July 2015 – Expansión
Popular is strengthening its strategy to achieve one of the main objectives it has set itself for the coming years, namely to accelerate the divestment of its non-productive assets. This mainly relates to its real estate portfolio, which includes €15,000 million of problem loans to developers, SMEs and individual borrowers, and a further €14,600 million of foreclosed assets.
One of the initiatives that the bank has set for 2015 is to increase the number of finished properties available for immediate sale through its web channel, by 15,000. It is looking to boost its web channel and thinks that it has great potential. This increase of 15,000 assets represents an increase of almost 50% to the portfolio that the bank currently has available for sale (taking the total to around 30,000 properties).
Currently, Popular sells 73% of its assets through its network of branches, another 21% through commercial agents and only 6% online. In the rest of the sector, digital channels account for 50% of such sales.
The entity, in turn, is accelerating the sale of large portfolios to wholesale investors. In the last two quarters, Popular has closed four such transactions amounting to €333 million, with a 9% discount on the net book value. These operations have included various assets, from residential land to commercial properties and garages.
As a result, the bank has doubled its volume of property sales in the last year. During the first quarter, Popular closed divestments amounting to €534 million, compared with €249 million recorded between January and March 2014, an increase of 115%. In this way and in just one quarter, Popular sold assets with a value very similar to the total amount sold in the whole of 2013, when sales amounted to around €700 million.
Popular’s strategy to dispose of its problem assets has been boosted in the last year and a half, following the partnership agreed in 2013 with the funds Värde Partners and Kennedy Wilson. That transaction, structured through the joint venture known as Aliseda, is not only generating capital to strengthen the bank’s balance sheet, but is also seeking to take advantage of the funds’ extensive experience in this business to accelerate the sale of assets, reduce the length of the recovery process and maximise divestment prices. Kennedy Wilson and Värde Partners, which control 51% of Aliseda, have almost €25,000 million in assets under management. (…)
Original story: Expansión (by M. Martínez)
Translation: Carmel Drake