Citi Seeks New Shareholders For Uro Property

20 May 2016 – Expansión

Uro Property, the Socimi that owns a quarter of Santander’s branch network in Spain, may see a change in its shareholders in the coming months. The company that holds 84% of its share capital, Ziloti Holdings, has given Citi a mandate to study possible shareholder changes.

This mandate comes in the face of interest from some of the current shareholders to exit the company, given that they were forced to acquire shares in the first place when their debt was converted into capital in 2014.

The main shareholders of Uro Property – both through Ziloti and otherwise – are Santander, with 22.7%; Atisha Holding, the former Sun Group, with 18.9%; Phoenix Life Assurance, with 14.6%; CaixaBank, with 14.5%; BNP Paribas, with 9.2%; and other private investors and international entities.

Citi will mainly look for investors amongst the large pension funds, insurance companies and investment funds.

The departure of the shareholders was vetoed until March under an institutional agreement reached following the recapitalisation of Uro.

The renewal of the shareholder base is one of the outstanding milestones for the company, which owns 755 Santander branches in Spain. It refinanced its debt last year and cancelled a swap, whereby reducing the financing costs of its €1,300 million debt from 6% to 3.35%. Last year, the Socimi sold 381 branches to Axa for €308 million, recording a capital gain of €27 million.

Original story: Expansión (by J. Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Uro Property To Issue Bonds To Secure €1,300M Funding

27 April 2015 – El Confidencial

The Socimi has launched its road show to issue 25-year debt that will allow it to repay all of its banking loans. The placement will be conducted in Holland through a special vehicle.

Uro Property has stepped on the accelerator to adjust its financial structure and position itself so as to compete head to head with the major Socimis in the market. Following its sale of 381 Banco Santander branches to AXA Real Estate (last month), the company chaired by Carlos Martínez Campos and led by Simon Blaxland, has launched a bond issue with a view to securing funds amounting to €1,300 million.

Through this placement, the Socimi wants to refinance all of its bank debt, which amounted to €1,424 million before the transaction with AXA, but which will be reduced by the corresponding proportion following the sale to the French group, since all of the funds (raised from the sale) will be used to repay its financial commitments.

This will be the first major bond transaction carried out by a Spanish Socimi. It forms part of the general move by these companies to return to the stock markets in search of liquidity and whereby take advantage of the window of opportunity that has opened up in stock markets around the world.

Holland is the market chosen by Uro to conduct its bond issue, which will be undertaken through the ad hoc creation of a special vehicle to issue the debt. Uro will verify investors’ appetite during the international road show, which the company has now launched; its objective is to reduce its current spread by 200-300 basis points and adjust the lifespan of the issuing vehicle to reflect the average life of Santander’s rental assets, i.e. around 25 years, although there will also be shorter terms.

The agreement with AXA has proved to be a lifeline for the Socimi, since it has resulted in the materialisation of the asset values assigned by CBRE. When Uro first listed on the MAB on 12 March, the real estate consultancy firm valued the company’s total portfolio at €2,000 million. Less than two months later, the French group, which owns one of the largest real estate investment vehicles in Europe, has paid 10% whereby giving credibility to Uro’s core assets.

Following the transaction with AXA, Uro now owns 755 Banco Santander branches, which have a combined surface area of more than 340,000 square metres and are valued at more than €1,700 million. Moreover, the branches that Uro has retained are the most desirable (prime) and are mainly located in Madrid and Barcelona, which explains why, despite having sold around one third of its assets (in terms of the number of branches), in terms of value, the sale only represents 15%.

Next steps

With all eyes on the closure of the (bond) issue in May, Uro is working on its road map, with a view to freeing up all of its bank loans and therefore, being able to address the company’s next objective, namely its listing on the stock exchange next year.

The Socimi’s major shareholder is Santander, which holds 24% of Uro’s share capital, whilst CaixaBank holds 14.98%, BNP Paribas owns 8.81% and Societe Generale holds 3.14%. Moreover, several hedge funds and entities such as Barclays and Bayerische Landesbank hold smaller stakes, of less than 1%, whilst the company’s former shareholders, Sun Capital, which is now known as Atisha Holding, and the Pearl Group, now Phoenix Life, hold 21.7% and 14.38%, respectively.

All of these shareholders have committed to continue to hold the Socimi’s share capital, for the next 12 months at least, although it is possible that, if an agreement is made between the shareholders, this period, known as the lock-up, may decrease if the circumstances in the market dictate that a move to obtain liquidity should be launched before the planned schedule, to pave the way for the stock market listing.

Uro’s IPO on the MAB was carried out to comply with the rules established for Socimis, which requires them to become listed vehicles within a maximum period of two years. Although Santander’s landlord still had time before the end of that term, it decided to list in March precisely because it wanted to pave the way for its bond issue, since investors always look more favourably upon debt issued by listed vehicles.

Nevertheless, since that was not its natural market and since at the time, it regarded the step more as a requirement than a vocation, it limited its placement on the Alternative Investment Market to the minimum legal requirement of €2 million. In contrast, once it has finished adjusting its financial structure and is able to begin actively working on its stock exchange listing, the company will have the opportunity to raise capital, which it will use to finance purchases, like other Socimis have done, given that all of the funds raised from its current bond issue will be used to repay its debt.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Santander’s Landlord Finalises The Sale Of 400 Branches

5 March 2015 – El Confidencial

Uro Property, the name given to the company formerly known as Samos, will begin trading on the MAB (‘Mercado Alternativo Bursátil’ or Alternative Investment Market) with the minimum legal amount, given that its ultimate aim is to move onto the main stock market.

Another one of the Socimi giants is counting down the hours until its goes public. Uro Property, the name give to the company formerly known as Samos, and the company through which several investment funds advised by Oleguer Pujol purchased a one third stake in Santander’s branches, will list on the MAB within the next few days and will continue to put the pieces in place to fulfil its aim of listing on the main stock market, with a healthier financial structure.

With this challenge in mind, the company chaired by Carlos Martínez Campos and led by Simon Blaxland is finalising the sale of 400 of the 1,316 branches that it owns, a transaction that it is already negotiating with an institutional investor and that will allow it to repay some of its €1,424 million loans ahead of time. This debt was already financed last year, when Samos’s creditor entities, led by Santander and CaixaBank, took control of the company, by capitalising €424 million of mezzanine debt and creating Uro.

This transaction turned Santander into the main shareholder of the Socimi, with a 24% stake, whilst CaixaBank took ownership of 14.89%; BNP Paribas holds a 8.81% stake and Société Générale holds 3.14%. In addition, several hedge funds and other entities, including Barclays and Bayerische Landesbank were left with stakes of less than 1%; whilst the former shareholders, Sun Capital, now known as Atisha Holding and the Pearl Group, now Phoenix Life, hold 21.7% and 14.38%, respectively.

All of the shareholders have committed to retaining their stakes for a minimum period of 12 months, during which time Uro Property is confident that it will close a new financing deal that will allow it to reduce its spread from its current level of 300 basis points to closer to 200 basis points.

In fact, the listing on MAB is seen as another step in this process, given that by law, all of the Socimis are obliged to go public within a period of two years. Although Uro Property’s deadline in this sense does not expire until after 2015, it has chosen to go public as soon as possible precisely because it believes that its status as a listed company will facilitate its refinancing.

This explains why Santander’s landlord is going to limit its initial placement to the minimum established by law: two million euros, a paltry figure, considering that its assets have been valued by CB Richard Ellis to amount to €2,000 million and given that forecasts suggest its market value amounts to around €500 million.

An independent audit to separate the company from Pujol

Renta 4 has been hired as the liquidity provider, whilst EY has performed the valuation of the company ahead of the placement. Aware that all eyes are focused on it, given its historical ties with Oleguer Pujol, the company commissioned Deloitte to conduct an independent audit (the auditor of the Socimi’s accounts is PwC), which certified that the maximum investment made in the Socimi by the son of the former President of Cataluña amounted to €67,000.

The Socimi has signed a new lease agreement with Santander, which has committed to occupy the properties for a minimum period of 25 years, and it may extend that period by 14 more years for a third of the assets, which the bank, chaired by Ana Botín, has identified as more strategic for its business. In return, the company has been granted the right to review the portfolio each year, as well as the ability to exchange some branches for others, provided these exchanges do not represent more than 1% per year, under any circumstances.

Santander will pay Uro rent amounting to €125 million net, since the bank itself will bear all of the costs relating to the properties. This guaranteed income, together with the refinancing deal signed last year, allowed the Socimi to generate profits in 2014. Moreover, with the new financial structure that it is negotiating, which it is hoped will extend the current six year maturity period, the Socimi is confident that it will significantly improve its results; this is key for a vehicle such as this, whose main attraction is the fact that it is obliged to distribute the majority of its profits in the form of dividends.

Uro will be able to begin working on its plans to list on the main stock market and expand its portfolio of assets from 2016, in line with the steps being taken by its competitors, such as Merlin, which acquired BBVA’s offices.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake