26 February 2018 – Cinco Días
The residential market is going to undergo a real shake-up over the coming months. From the summer onwards, Spain’s residential property developers expect the main investment funds to place on the market the large land banks that they have been stockpiling following their purchases from the banks, whereby alleviating the shortage of plots for construction in those areas where activity has resumed. Thousands of millions in investments are at stake.
Specifically, the major stars are going to be Blackstone, which took control of Popular’s toxic property portfolio last year, and Cerberus, which did the same with assets from BBVA. Moreover, managers such as Bain Capital, with land proceeding from Liberbank, will also play a significant role.
The other major player that is going to star in this market over the coming months is Sareb, which is preparing its largest-ever land transaction under a new formula. It is looking to team up with a large property developer to contribute plots worth €800 million and integrate its residential business in exchange for entering the share capital of a company that will be listed on the stock market in the medium term. In fact, large funds are arriving to compete with the bad bank to supply land (…).
“Expectations are high”, says Pablo Méndez, Director of Capital Markets at the consultancy firm Savills Aguirre Newman. “We expect the funds to bring products onto the market during the course of this year. They are going to want to maximise the value of their land, and so they will sell it on a piecemeal basis. We do not expect to see large portfolios for sale, at least not in Madrid, Cataluña or Levante”, he explained. “Nevertheless, I think that we may see portfolio sales in other areas that are starting to reactivate and that are of interest to real estate companies, such as Galicia, Asturias, Santander, Burgos, Tarragona and other large cities”.
House building activity has reactivated timidly in Spain, with 80,000 new house starts last year and with the objective for the sector of reaching around 150,000 new homes per year as the healthy cruising speed. New companies, such as the listed firms Neinor and Aedas, together with others such as Aelca, Vía Célere, ASG, Amenabar and Metrovacesa (which returned to the stock market earlier this month) have boosted activity. But there has been a shortage of buildable land (plots with the necessary permits) in Spain’s large cities, above all in Madrid and Barcelona.
Simultaneously, the banks have been forced to divest property from their balance sheets, under pressure from the regulations set by the European Central Bank, like the entities that received public help did back in 2012, when they transferred their toxic assets to Sareb. In the funds, the banks have found the best partners for getting rid of their properties to start putting them on the market (…).
“We estimate that the large funds have land worth more than €15 billion”, calculates Samuel Población, Director of Residential and Land, at the consultancy firm CBRE.
Blackstone is going to become one of the key players over the next few months. The US fund purchased 51% of Popular’s portfolio worth €10 billion from Santander. Of that total, 42% corresponds to land. The agreement is not expected to be definitively closed until March. From then on, Aliseda will start to sell those plots. The new CEO of that servicer is Eduard Mendiluce, who is also continuing to serve as the head of Anticipa, the company that Blackstone uses to manage its housing portfolios.
Meanwhile, Cerberus acquired 80% of BBVA’s real estate portfolio for €4 billion. Almost 80% of those assets comprise plots of land. In that case, they are waiting until June, for the operation to materialise, before starting to place any portfolios on the market. That sales mandate will be entrusted to Haya Real Estate, the servicer that Cerberus is planning to list on the stock market. Note, the US fund also acquired a majority stake in the residential property developer Inmoglacier, which is expected to receive a small proportion of the plots to make it grow and become one of the new stars of the sector.
Finally, Bain Capital, on a smaller scale, acquired around €144 million of land from Liberbank, at the same time as taking over the Catalan property developer Habitat (…).
Original story: Cinco Días (by Alfonso Simón Ruiz)
Translation: Carmel Drake