Santander Uses Uro Property’s First Dividend To Pay Off Debts

6 July 2015 – El Confidencial

Just four months after Uro Property’s IPO on the stock market, the landlord of 1,136 Santander branches, has approved its first dividends and the entity chaired by Ana Botín has used the funds to pay off some of the Socimi’s debts. And that is because Santander is not only the Socimi’s tenant, it is also the main shareholder of the company, previously known as Samos, which it inherited after the company’s bankruptcy due to its inability to pay off debts amounting to more than €2,000 million.

The foreclosure by the banks was orchestrated, primarily, through the company Zitoli, which currently holds 85% of the share capital, whilst Santander owns the remaining 15% as a result of its financing of the mezzanine debt. The two partners have agreed to use the shareholder remuneration that Uro Property has just authorised, amounting to €154.3 million, to repay its debts and continue the clean up of the Socimi.

This decision has been orchestrated through the issue of demand notes, securities that will be capitalised, taking advantage of a capital increase to pay off loans, which will take place this summer, just after 30 July, when the dividend payment will be made. From that moment on, Ziloti and Santander will devote 57% of the remuneration due to them, almost €88 million, to continue with the plan to clean up the Socimi.

The Cantabrian entity has the leading role in this process, since through its indirect shareholding via Ziloti, as well as the direct stake it holds from the inherited mezzanine loan, it holds 24% of the share capital. The next largest shareholder is CaixaBank, with a 15% stake, BNP Paribas with a 8.81% stake and Société Générale, with a 3.14% stake. Moreover, several hedge funds and entities such as Barclays and Bayerische Landesbankhold hold stakes of less than 1%; whilst the former shareholders, Sun Capital, now known as Atisha Holding, and Pearl Group, now Phoenix Life, hold 21.7% and 14.38% stakes, respectively.

These vehicles created the current Uro Property together with Drago Capital, the fund led by Oriol Pujol, which is currently being investigated by the Tax Authorities and from whom the Socimi has made every effort to distance itself. That former link is the main threat that hangs over the entity and could severely jeopardise the efforts being made by it, under the guidelines set out by its creditors to clean up its balance sheet.

In fact, the Socimi is one of 64 individuals and legal entities that have been denounced by the Tax Ministry for “the alleged commission of a crime involving money laundering and fraud”.

Whilst the Courts continue with their investigations, the banks are also progressing quickly with their roadmap designed to financially restructure the Socimi and find an exit for those creditors that do not want to continue to hold shares in the company. One of the main steps taken to that end, besides the listing of Uro Property on the stock exchange, was the sale of 381 branches to Axa for €308 million, which was approved in April, and the issue of bonds amounting to €1,300 million.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake