9 June 2015 – Expansión
Project Kite / The Aragonese group has engaged N+1 to negotiate the sale of 6,900 residential units, 1,300 retail premises and industrial warehouses and 600 plots of land with large overseas funds.
Ibercaja wants to forget about its real estate legacy and focus on its traditional business. After studying a possible operation for several months, the Aragonese group has now decided to sell nearly all of its real estate business. To this end, it has engaged N+1, which has distributed preliminary information about Project Kite to large international funds over the last few days.
Through this operation, Ibercaja offers investors €800 million of foreclosed assets, according to financial sources. Based on the latest available figures, as at the end of 2014, the group held more than €900 million of foreclosure homes, land and property developments on its balance sheet.
The €800 million portfolio will include 6,900 residential units (homes, garages and storerooms); 1,300 retail premises and industrial warehouses; and 600 plots of land, almost half of which have building permits. The homes are primarily located in Zaragoza, Madrid and Barcelona.
According to sources, the operation may include a management contract for the remaining real estate assets and the transfer of a team of specialist professionals, comprising around 50 employees. The model for the transaction will be similar to the one adopted by Kutxabank last year.
With this project, Ibercaja joins Bankia, which recently put all of its foreclosed assets up for sale, in the so-called Project Big Bang. These entities are looking to get rid of the real estate assets that are weighing them down, whereby taking advantage of the interest that large funds are showing in becoming Spain’s new property companies, and thus being able to use their resources to grant new loans once more.
The political environment following the regional and local elections has caused many funds to review their strategies, although according to financial sources, they will continue to buy assets provided the misgivings about the general election do not increase.
Ibercaja already explored the possible sale of its real estate portfolio in the middle of 2014, but in the end it backed out.
In 2014, the group also studied the possibility of an institutional investor acquiring some of its share capital; it engaged JP Morgan to assist with that analysis, but ended up ruling out the option. All indications are that Ibercaja will accelerate its IPO in 2016, in line with the philosophy of the savings bank law and the wishes of the ECB.
The Aragonese entity – the result of the merger of Ibercaja and Caja 3 – generated €42.6 million during Q1 2015, up 6% from a year earlier.
Original story: Expansión (by Jorge Zuloaga)
Translation: Carmel Drake