Sareb Quarantines its €30bn Mega-Portfolio Entrusted to Goldmans For The Time Being

11 June 2018 – El Confidencial

The most important operation in Sareb’s history is going to have to wait. Despite the wishes of Goldman Sachs, the bank charged with leading the sale of €30 million in toxic assets, to formally launch the process before the end of June, the entity chaired by Jaime Echegoyen would rather be cautious and have everything locked down, and well locked down, before it gives the final green light to an operation of this magnitude.

Particularly, when its largest shareholders, the State through the FROB, has just experienced an unexpected change of Government. Although sources at Sareb insist that a firm date has not yet been set for this sale and that all of the work carried out to date has been preliminary, during the conversations that Goldmans held with interested funds before the vote of no confidence (in the Spanish parliament), it was understood that the process would begin this month, according to several sources in the know.

Nevertheless, the change in the political panorama, which has resulted in Pedro Sánchez’s appointment as President and Nadia Calviño as the Minister for the Economy, lends itself to prudence, to avoiding any rushed decisions and to allowing time for the new Government to analyse this operation. Above all, when one of the objectives of the PSOE’s economics team has, for months, been to conduct a thorough audit of Sareb to understand the real extent of the public debt as a whole, according to Voz Pópuli.

The sale of the portfolio entrusted to Goldman would allow Sareb to decimate its liabilities in one fell swoop and generate two years worth of revenues in a single operation. The question is at what cost, in other words, what losses would such a divestment generate, given that all of these sales are being undertaken at discounts that the bad bank is finding very difficult to bear.

In fact, in order to play in this league of major operations, Sareb has been analysing for months all kinds of formulae to reduce its losses. One way of mitigating the losses and achieving better offers is to share the ownership of the capital of the new company to which these toxic assets would be transferred, like Santander and BBVA have done in similar cases.

Another lever that has already been analysed is to take advantage of the FAB (Banking Assets Fund) – that Sareb created in its early stages, because that would provide the operation with tax incentives, or associate it with the servicing contract, which has been in the hands of Haya until now.

That “servicer”, which is controlled by Cerberus, manages all of the toxic property that Bankia transferred to Sareb, whose deficit was the largest, in absolute numbers, of the bank rescue, another important argument why the new Government wants to understand in detail the design and consequences of the Goldman operation before giving it the green light, or not.

What is happening with Ebro and the property development plans?

(…) In terms of the entity’s other two star projects: the search for a partner to promote €800 million in residential assets and the sale of a €10 billion portfolio baptised Ebro.

The former has two finalists, Aelca and Aedas, and looks to be on schedule for a winner to be selected ahead of the summer (…).

In the case of Ebro, Sareb’s decision to not go ahead with this portfolio responds to, amongst other reasons, the fact that some of the perimeter proceeded from Haya assets, which are the ones that make up the entire Goldman portfolio, and so a decision was taken to desist from this project to give priority to the Goldman deal.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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