3 November 2017 – Voz Pópuli
The times are changing at Servihabitat, the real estate arm of CaixaBank and one of the largest servicers in Spain. The platform, which is owned by the fund TPG (51%) and the Catalan bank (49%), has appointed a new board of directors after Julián Cabanillas’ decision to leave the firm; he had served as CEO until now.
The historical director of La Caixa has decided to step down after fulfilling the term that he had committed to undertake with the bank and the US fund. According to financial sources consulted by Voz Pópuli, Servihabiat has hired one of the key directors at Cerberus in Spain to replace him: Iheb Naffa, the CEO of Gescobro until now.
For more than a decade, Nafaa was one of the directors of the financial arm of General Electric (GE Capital) in Spain, serving in roles such as the Director of Risks, Director of Operations and Director General. Gescobro hired him in 2015, at the same time as that firm was acquired by Cerberus.
Nafaa will have another former director of General Electric as one of his right-hand men at Servihabitat, namely, Edelweiss Obiol, with whom he worked at the US company. Obiol replaces Feliu Formosa, another former La Caixa director who is leaving Servihabitat, as Finance Director.
McKinsey and Oliver Wyman
The changes in Servihabitat’s leadership come at a time when the real estate company is carrying out a significant internal review. To this end, it has engaged two consultancy firms: McKinsey and Oliver Wyman. Sources consulted explain that these two firms are focusing on improving the real estate company’s internal processes, rather than on involving it in a merger or sale.
One possible corporate operation has been flying over Servihabitat for years. Conversations were even held with the private equity group Investindustrial last year. Various options have been explored, ranging from CaixaBank’s repurchase of TPG’s stake to then look for another operation, or for the fund to sell its 51% stake itself.
All indications are that changes may be afoot in 2018, in the face of the more than likely consolidation of the servicer market. Cerberus, where Nafaa is moving from, Apollo and Blackstone are all lining themselves up as possible buyers.
Servihabitat manages assets worth almost €50,000 million, according to figures as at 2016. They are mainly owned by CaixaBank and Sareb, and so they are not held on its balance sheet. The firm is mainly dedicated to administering the debt and assets and selling them. In 2016, it recorded total sales of €1,645 million. And between January and September of this year, it recorded turnover of €1,300 million, up by 17% compared to the same period last year.
Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Jorge Zuloaga)
Translation: Carmel Drake