Sale Of Habitat Set To Close This Week Despite Catalan Crisis

15 November 2017 – El Confidencial

Last weekend marked the deadline for the three funds interested in buying the Catalan real estate company Habitat, namely Apollo, Bain and Oaktree, to submit their binding offers. Despite constituting one of the most important real estate sales of our times, there have been doubts in the market about the impact that the sovereign challenge in Cataluña may have on the appetite of these three investment giants. Their parent companies have ended up living through the worst moments of the crisis once again, requesting regular reports about the political situation in Spain.

And in the end, all three interested parties decided to push ahead and put their binding offers on the table for the purchase of the real estate company, which is worth between €200 million and €250 million. Irea, which has been engaged by the shareholders of Habitat to lead the sales process, plans to explain to them the pros and cons of each proposal between now and Friday, the day when the winner of the process is expected to be chosen.

Sources consulted by El Confidencial state that the most attractive offers were those presented by Bain and Apollo and they all but rule out Oaktree‘s chances. According to the schedule, the players behind the two best offers will be given the opportunity to fine-tune their proposals between today and Friday. Although the possibility also exists that Irea may choose the best proposal, without asking for any improvements, to present it directly to the shareholders of Habitat.

One way or another, the idea is that this week, the winner of the quest for Habitat will be chosen, a transaction that the interested parties are looking to complete before the end of the year.

Buildable land platform

The purchase of Habitat will allow the successful buyer to acquire an important platform through which to benefit from the recovery of the Spanish residential property development market. That desire has had a strong impact on the parent companies of the three interested funds, all from the US, allowing them to overlook the political and economic uncertainty unleashed by the independence challenge.

Habitat is the heir of the former Ferrovial Inmobiliaria, a company that the firm controlled then by Bruno Figueras acquired for €2,200 million at the end of 2006; that operation that gave rise to the fifth largest property developer in Spain. But, just two years later, during the first few months of the crisis in the sector, the company filed for the fourth largest creditor bankruptcy of all time, with debt amounting to €2,800 million.

Although it managed to get out of that hole in 2010, five years later Figueras was forced to cede control to the creditor funds, and firms such as Capstone, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Värde and Marathon acquired 70% of the share capital when the bulk of the debt was converted into shares. (…).

Bain, Apollo and Oaktree have all been trying to acquire a large domestic property developer for some time now, to allow them to create a large group through which to benefit from the recovery in the market. In fact, the former has just acquired, together with Oceanwood, €602 million in real estate assets from Liberbank, whilst Apollo fought to the end to acquire the €30,000 million portfolio of toxic assets from Banco Popular that was sold in the summer.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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