Sabadell to Sell Solvia As It Unloads Real Estate Assets

30 August 2018

Banc Sabadell is taking offers for Solvia after ruling out placing it together with portfolios of real estate assets.

Unlike Santander and Caixabank, which unloaded most of their real estate assets when they transferred their portfolios of properties to investment funds, Banc Sabadell kept Solvia out of its sale of assets to Cerberus, which was concluded in July. Now, however, the Catalan bank is taking offers for its subsidiary, with an eye on wrapping up the sale within a few months.

Sources in the financial industry told Economia Digital that Sabadell, which is chaired by Josep Oliu, has decided to finalise the sale of its real estate assets through a partial or total sale of its servicer, Solvia. Although it has not yet initiated a formal sales process, the bank reportedly hopes to finalise the deal during the last four months of 2018.

“We are not a property firm, it is not our line of business,” Jaume Guardiola, CEO of Sabadell, has stated on several occasions when asked about the future of the bank’s real estate assets and its property firm, Solvia. Market sources had speculated that Solvia would be sold off together with the bank’s portfoli0 of property, land and related loans. However, Solvia remained in the bank’s hands.

Sabadell decided to leave the property firm out of its sale of the bank’s three property portfolios, worth 11 billion euros. Two of the three were eventually acquired by the venture capital fund Cerberus. The bank held on for a higher price for the servicer and hopes that the asset will help in the sale of the portfolio of properties that it still possesses, which is worth about another €2 billion.

That decision was made just over a month ago, but Guardiola’s position seems to have won, and the bank has put the sale of its property firm on the table again. The idea is that the company will be sold without any included assets, and the sale will be restricted to Solvia’s network and operations, in addition to its roughly 800 employees.

Sabadell has not yet received any formal offers, although Solvia is expected to draw some interest, considering that it is one of Spain’s biggest servicers. Several investment funds are investing in the country’s property market and could be interested in acquiring a servicer.

Solvia, in the hands of a fund?

All the large funds that have acquired real estate assets in Spain already have subsidiary property firms. Cerberus, which bought assets from BBVA and Sabadell, has Haya Real Estate. Apollo, which acquired Santander’s assets, owns Altamira. Lone Star owned Neinor, though it subsequently sold it, it will also acquire Servihabitat when it completes its purchase of 80% of Caixabank real estate assets. Lastly, Blackstone owns Anticipa.

However, other funds are making smaller purchases and could be interested in a property firm such as Solvia to help unload their property holdings in the future. Oaktree, which has acquired several buildings, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and Bain Capital are all possible buyers.

Sabadell waves goodbye to its real estate business

This summer, Banc Sabadell sold a good part of its real estate assets. Of the three large portfolios it had on sale, two went to Cerberus and the third to Deutsche Bank. The assets sold to the investment fund were valued at 9.1 billion euros, while the portfolio that Sabadell sold to the German bank had assets worth €2.4 billion.

Sabadell applied a 57% write-off on the sales, a figure below previous large sales by BBVA and Santander, where the discount exceeded 60%. The banks that waited most, such as Caixabank and Sabadell itself, benefited from the growing interest of investors in Spanish property to sell their holdings at a higher price.

Original Story: Economia Digital – Xavier Alegret

Translation: Richard Turner