Solvia Plans To Purchase Other RE Platforms

27 March 2015 – Expansión

The real estate platform expects to hire 200 people this year / Banco Sabadell is giving greater autonomy to its subsidiary, Solvia, which has taken a big step forward after being awarded the management of 42,900 assets by Sareb, worth €11,500 million.

Banco Sabadell wants to covert Solvia into a leading player in the Spanish real estate sector. The entity has proposed that it lead the consolidation process that the servicers in the market are expected to undergo (in the coming months and years). Servicers are the asset management platforms that were created in Spain following the burst of the real estate bubble and the restructuring of the financial sector. These companies were created as “bad banks”, in which entities placed the (distressed) assets that were accumulating on their balances sheets. In recent years, almost all of the financial institutions have opted to sell all or part of their platforms to specialist funds. Nevertheless, Sabadell has chosen to retain full ownership of Solvia and to promote its growth to the maximum.

“Solvia is the only servicer whose capital is held 100% locally; it is supported by a committed shareholder, a strong brand and an excellent system and team of professionals”, says Miguel Montes, CEO of Sabadell and the head of the real estate company.

As one of the winners of the contract to manage some of Sareb’s portfolio, Solvia now manages assets amounting to €34,000 million, with a portfolio of 135,000 units. Of this, €25,000 million relate exclusively to property and the remaining €9,000 million relate to loan portfolios.

Potential IPO

According to Montes, Solvia will grow through the purchase of new product portfolios and the acquisition of other platforms, since some of them have been left with small portfolios. “In Spain, there will be a consolidation (of the number of players) in the servicer market. Solvia will opt to purchase (some of its smaller competitors) to increase its size. We think that this is a business that is worth investing in”, he assures.

According to the director, if it grows in size, Solvia may consider an IPO. “Now is still not the right time to list the company on the stock exchange; before considering that, Solvia must establish itself as an independent multi-client servicer, but the stock exchange is not the only alternative, there are other options”, he says.

To accelerate growth and facilitate its ability to work with all kinds of external clients, Sabadell has decided to grant Solvia maximum independence, by providing the entity with the resources and structure necessary to operate autonomously. Thus, the company will depend increasingly less on the bank’s central services and will have its own management team. As such, it has launched a serious offensive to attract talent and recruit experienced professionals.

Solvia closed 2014 with a workforce of 240 people and this year expects to hire 200 more, to take its total number of employees to 440.

The real estate company recently hired Francisco Pérez – former director of the real estate developer Vertix – as the regional director in Cataluña. To strengthen its office in Madrid, it has hired Javier Román Palero from the fund Apollo.

The majority of the properties that Solvia manages following the award of Sareb’s portfolio, which in turn came from Ceiss, are located in the central region of Spain. Under project Ibero, Solvía also won the management of properties from Sareb that had previously belonged to Banco Gallego and Bankia. In total, 42,900 units with an original value of €11,500 million, although Sareb purchased them for €7,000 million. “We have completed the migration of the portfolio of assets that came from Ceiss and Banco Gallego; the migration of the properties from Bankia will be completed in May”, explains Montes.

To strengthen its autonomy, Solvia is expected to adopt a brand that differentiates it from Sabadell. In fact, at its regional headquarters in Barcelona, it already has a sign that does not include the letters “B” or “S” in the logo, which identify the bank.

Alicante

In parallel, Solvia has relocated some of its team to Alicante, where it has opened the registered headquarters of the property marketing platform. “In 2014, Solvia sold 16,200 units for €2,750 million. None of the banks sold as much as us”, highlights Montes.

In parallel to the sale of properties from the portfolio, Solvia’s other main business line is the direct development of newly built homes on land that it owns. “We have 1,400 homes under construction” – he says – “and we expect an annual production of one thousand newly-built homes”. According to the director, Solvia has already sold several entire developments. “The number of “off-plan” sales that we are recording is spectacular”, he notes.

Montes says that Solvia’s business is “strategic” for Sabadell, since it will allow the entity to harness the potential being offered by the change in the cycle of the Spanish real estate sector. “Instead of leaving it for someone else to do, we are willing to invest and work hard in this business to leverage the potential value of the real estate market”. He argues.

Solvia has also started to sell land, a market that was completely paralysed until now.

Original story: Expansión (by S. Saborit/S. Arancibia)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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