Project Big Bang: Bankia Selects Contenders For Final Phase

26 June 2015 – Expansión

Bankia has launched the final phase of the sale of its remaining assets, worth €4,800 million. The process is expected to be completed in July. Blackstone, Apollo, Cerberus, Deutsche and Oaktree are amongst the investors that have been selected to proceed to the final round.

Bankia’s Project Big Bang is entering the final phase. In the last few days, the entity chaired by José Ignacio Goirigolzarri has announced the names of the investors that have passed the first round of non-binding offers. Around five funds have overcome the hurdle, including: Blackstone, Deutsche Bank, Apollo, Cerberus and Oaktree.

At stake is the largest sale of real estate assets – excluding debt operations – since the economic crisis hit: foreclosed residential assets, commercial premises and land worth €4,800 million.

From next week, the selected funds will deploy their real estate teams, and those of their consultants, to undertake a more accurate valuation of the reality. This is a highly complex project because Project Big Bang comprises 46,000 real estate assets scattered all over Spain. The funds and their advisors will select the broadest samples possible to try to obtain the most accurate valuation.

The investors are going to have to work against the clock, since the next date marked in the calendar is 31 July, when theoretically, they should submit their binding offers. According to financial sources, Bankia wants to settle the transaction as soon as possible so that it is not hampered by the political uncertainty that will only increase as the general election moves closer.

Dividing up the portfolio

Even so, the competitive auction is not expected to be finalised until after the summer, since following the receipt of the final offers, Bankia and its advisors – Credit Suisse and KPMG – will have to analyse them and prepare the documentation necessary to complete the sale.

According to various funds, all indications suggest that the Big Bang portfolio will end up being divided up, since Bankia and its advisors believe that they will maximise its value that way.

The foreclosed assets amounting to €4,800 million…are recorded on Bankia’s balance sheet at around €2,900 million. That would be the base price that Bankia would expect to receive, since a lower price would mean it would have to recognise new provisions.

The portfolio for sale mainly comprises residential assets (apartments, houses and garages) – 38,500 assets in total, covering 3.6 million square metres. Around 65% of the homes are located in Valencia, Cataluña and Madrid, and 5% of them are currently rented out. The residential portion of the portfolio is worth €3,300 million.

In addition, Bankia is selling 5,000 commercial assets (offices, shops, hotels, warehouses and industrial buildings) worth €1,100 million; and 2,600 plots of land – of which 65% may be developed – worth €400 million.

Of the candidates, it seems that Cerberus is the best positioned – it purchased Bankia Habitat – now Haya Real Estate – in 2013 and therefore, knows the portfolio first hand, according to financial sources.

Apollo is also expected to bid hard for the portfolio, through Altamira. After acquiring 85% of Santander’s real estate arm, Apollo has not yet acquired any significant asset portfolios to generate returns from its platform, although it was one of the asset managers chosen by Sareb to handle some of its portfolio.

Original story: Expansión (by Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake