Solvia: Sabadell Puts its Real Estate Subsidiary Up For Sale

17 October 2018 – El País

Sabadell is going to listen to offers from several real estate vulture funds that are interested in acquiring its subsidiary Solvia, the manager of its properties. The entity, which declined to comment, has now entrusted the sales process to an investment bank. In the summer, Jaime Guardiola, CEO of Sabadell, justified holding onto Solvia due to “the great contribution it makes to the bank”, but now he is taking a step towards selling it. Sources in the sector indicate that Sabadell wants to strengthen itself and take advantage of the good climate still being enjoyed in the real estate market.

The banks are getting rid of properties before the booming market deflates. They are selling not only portfolios, but also the companies that specialise in the management of those real estate assets, known in the sector as servicers. Until now, it was typical for the banks to include their servicers in the package of asset sales: that is what CaixaBank did with Servihabitat and BBVA with Anida.

But, Sabadell wanted to get more mileage out of its subsidiary and so decided not to sell Solvia when it divested around €12.2 billion of its properties to Axactor, Cerberus, Deutsche Bank and Carval. Nevertheless, Sabadell has now taken the definitive step and is open to offers from the interested vulture funds. According to sources in the market, the interested parties include Cerberus and Oaktree.

148,000 assets under management

Based on data as at May 2018, Solvia is one of the leaders in the real estate services market in Spain, with a portfolio of 148,000 units in assets under management, whose value exceeds €31 billion, according to the entity. In a report from Goldman Sachs, Sabadell indicates that Solvia’s annual profit amounts to €40 million.

The company has extensive experience in the marketing of new build developments, given that it has placed more than 10,000 homes in new developments on the market since 2015. At the moment, Solvia has 55 developments up for sale. In terms of rental, as of October, the firm was managing 32,000 assets, of which 74% belong to Sabadell. Solvia also works with other clients, including Sareb.

The report from Goldman Sachs noted that Sabadell could sell Solvia as a way of raising its capital ratios, with little detriment to its income statement.

Market sources agree with these arguments to explain the step taken by Sabadell. On the one hand, as the European Central Bank has indicated, entities must accelerate the sale of all businesses relating to the real estate sector. The banks are aware that times of lower economic growth will come and understand the importance of taking advantage of the appetite that the large international funds still have for Spanish property.

On the other hand, the sale of Solvia will also result in cost savings, a reduction in the workforce and, above all, lower capital consumption. In the last quarter, between March and June, Sabadell’s capital ratio decreased by one point, from 12% to 11% for its CET 1 fully loaded capital ratio (the highest quality indicator). The limit on the basis of which the ECB applies severe measures is 10.5%.

This decrease was due to the problems that Sabadell has been facing with its British subsidiary TSB, which was left without a service for weeks. Between March and June, the bank lost €138 million in provisions against real estate portfolios and the problems at TSB.

Original story: El País (by Íñigo de Barrón)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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