25 February 2015 – El Confidencial
Banco Sabadell and its real estate arm Solvia have infiltrated the top ranking of (Spain’s) real estate managers, which mainly includes vulture funds. These funds now have (assets under management amounting to) €278,000 million.
The international funds have consolidated their position as the new players in the real estate sector after Sareb’s latest auction. In fact, together, the so-called vulture funds control a portfolio of assets amounting to more than €278,000 million, including land; properties; and mortgage and developer debt. There are some important exceptions (in the ranking), such as Solvia (Banco Sabadell) and Anida (BBVA), but the top positions are held by institutional investors such as TPG (Servihabitat), Cerberus (Haya Real Estate) and Apollo (Altamira), who monopolise the sector.
Following the bid for Sareb’s assets, the largest manager or servicer is Servihabitat, owned by Caixabank (51%) and the US fund TPG (49%). In total, the company manages €58,698 million, having taken on €19,725 million from Sareb. The entity was already ranked first or second-place, depending on whether the loans in its portfolio were included in the calculations, rather than just the properties.
Since the start of the year, Servihabitat has controlled 21% of the assets of the so-called servicers, including properties and loans. Following the auction, it now also manages assets of Nova Caixa Galicia, Liberbank and Banco de Valencia. This hegemony has been thanks to Sareb’s most recent auction, which was held less than two months ago, which awarded portfolios amounting to €41,200 million. The assets (awarded in that auction) have been managed by the winning companies since 1 January 2015.
The main upset (in the rankings) has been Banco Sabadell and its real estate arm Solvia, which has infiltrated the ranking of the top property managers in Spain. The bank was one of the few that did not sell its real estate portfolio to the vulture funds, like most of its competitors did, and as a result, it has become the fourth largest entity in the (servicing) sector, a surprise gate-crasher to the party, with assets of €39,765 million. Of this amount, €17,187 million came from the most recent auction, in the form of assets that came from Bankia. 43% of the assets that Solvia now manages came from Sareb. It has a 13% share of that market.
Off the podium
In this sense, another important development is that of Apollo. Previously it was the sixth largest player. Now, following the auction and its purchase of Altamira from Banco Santander for €700 million at the end of 2013, it has risen to third place. This bronze medal position reflects the fact that Altamira-Apollo now manages €46,566 million. It has acquired more than half of its property and loan (€26,056 million) from Sareb. The entity has a 17% share of Sareb’s market.
These increases have been achieved at the expense of another operator, Anida, which has dropped down the rankings to fifth place. Anida is the real estate arm of BBVA and has more than €25,000 million assets under management. It is one of only a handful of companies of this type, which, like Solvia, has not allowed foreign funds to participate in its capital. Neither Anida nor Aliseda, which was sold by Banco Popular to Värde Partners and Kennedy Wilson for €815 million, participated in the most recent auction and so they lost size in a business where critical mass is fundamental.
Haya Real Estate, owned by Cerberus, is still the entity that depends most heavily on the Sareb. It controls assets that mainly come from Bankia and so 65% of its portfolio depends on the Sareb contract, much more than Altamira (55%) and Solvia (43%).
By contrast, from all of the large players, Servihabitat is the one that is least dependent on the bad bank, despite having won some of the lots it has auctioned, since it already had a significant asset base. It depends on Sareb for 33% of its portfolio only, which means, on paper, that it should have a higher operating management margin than its closest competitors.
Original story: El Confidencial (by Marcos Lamelas)
Translation: Carmel Drake