Cerberus is the Favourite to Acquire Solvia for €300M

31 October 2018 – El Economista

The sale of Solvia, the servicer of Banco Sabadell, is heading into the final stretch. According to reports, the US fund Cerberus is lining itself up as the favourite to acquire that company, worth just over €300 million.

According to market sources, binding offers were submitted on Tuesday for Solvia Servicios Inmobiliarios – the firm responsible for marketing the assets – of which those presented by Cerberus, Intrum (the company resulting from the merger between Justitia and Lindorff) and that of another overseas fund stood out. In particular, the offer submitted by Cerberus is the favourite in the process, which is being coordinated by Alantra.

The entity has engaged Rothschild to find a buyer for its property developer.

In any case, according to the same sources, this transaction exclusively contemplates the sale of the management activity, and not the transfer of assets, which opens the door for Sabadell to obtain greater profits, unlike some of its competitors such as BBVA, which did sell its servicer (Anida) together with a portfolio of assets worth €13 billion to Cerberus, applying a discount to those assets. It is worth recalling, nevertheless, that the US fund closed the acquisition of a portfolio of assets (from the Catalan entity) for more than €3 billion in the summer.

This operation comes in a context in which the international investment funds are very interested in Spanish property, which is allowing the owners to sell at higher multiples. That, together with the requirements of the European Central Bank (ECB) to accelerate the sales of financial institutions to the real estate business, has created the ideal breeding ground for Sabadell to decide to sell this asset.

Moreover, this divestment is going to allow the financial institution to reduce the consumption of capital and, whereby, avoid penalties from the ECB. El Economista made contact with Sabadell, but the entity declined to comment on the operation.

It is worth recalling that the entity – in parallel to the sale of its servicer – has engaged Rothschild to find a buyer for its property developer (Solvia Desarrollos Inmobiliarios) and a portfolio of its best plots of land, worth €1 billion, according to Vozpópuli.

Original story: El Economista (by Araceli Muñoz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Project Apple: Apollo Bids Hard for Santander’s Last Real Estate Portfolio

30 July 2018 – El Confidencial

Project Apple, the name chosen for the €5 billion real estate portfolio that Banco Santander has put up for sale, is entering the home stretch. The entity chaired by Ana Botín has asked the interested funds to submit their definitive offers this week, according to sources close to the operation.

As this newspaper revealed, the firms that have expressed their interest in the operation include the giants Lone Star, Cerberus, Blackstone and Apollo, although, the latter two are regarded as the favourites, given that they have significant recent history with the Cantabrian bank’s property.

Just one year ago, Blackstone was awarded project Quasar, the €30 billion portfolio of gross toxic assets that Santander sold (following its acquisition of Banco Popular). Meanwhile, Apollo owns 85% of Altamira, the real estate asset manager that the financial entity created and which is currently administering the €5 billion portfolio up for sale.

Having been left out of all of the major real estate processes involving the banks, Apollo has decided to bid hard for Apple, according to the same sources, a move that has been launched in parallel to the possible sale of  (its stake in) Altamira, the manager that would lose some of its appeal if another fund were to manage to acquire this portfolio.

In addition, the firm led in Spain by Andrés Rubio has just reached an agreement with Santander to modify Altamira’s management contract and to refinance the servicer’s debt, in a deal that has allowed the fund to distribute a dividend of €200 million.

For Santander, the sale of Project Apple will mean completing the divestment of all of its real estate exposure, a move that took a giant leap forward last year with the transfer of the Quasar portfolio to Blackstone.

Nevertheless, and precisely because it has already cleaned up the bulk of its balance sheet, the entity does not have any need to sell and, therefore, if the bids come in below its expectations, it may decide not to transfer the portfolio after all, at least not through this process.

After the Cantabrian bank, BBVA reached an agreement with Cerberus to sell it 80% of its toxic property, whose gross value amounts to €13 billion, in an operation that is expected to be completed later this year.

More recently, CaixaBank reached an agreement with Lone Star to sell it 100% of Servihabitat and the majority of a portfolio of properties worth €6.7 billion; and Banco Sabadell made a deal to transfer €12.3 billion in toxic assets to Cerberus (€9.1 billion), Deutsche Bank (€2.3 billion) and Axactor (€900 million).

Original story: El Confidencial (by R. Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Bankia Puts €450M Rental Property Portfolio Up For Sale

27 June 2018 – Expansión

Bankia is going to start a sales process for a portfolio of rental properties with a market value of €450 million, reports Reuters, citing two sources familiar with the operation.

The entity chaired by José Ignacio Goirigolzarri expects the interested groups to present their non-binding offers over the summer, so as to finalise the process with definitive offers from September onwards, indicates one of the sources.

This portfolio of rental properties forms part of the €4.9 billion in assets and loans foreclosed during the crisis that Bankia is trying to eliminate from its balance sheet.

At the end of March, Bankia had a gross exposure of around €16.6 billion on its balance sheet comprising non-performing loans and assets. The bank’s objective is to reduce its non-performing assets by around €9 billion.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Starwood & Carlyle Bid for San Fernando Business Park (Madrid)

11 May 2018 – Expansión

One of the major real estate operations of the year in the office segment is entering the home stretch.

The US fund Oaktree, which engaged the real estate consultancy CBRE to coordinate the sale of San Fernando Business Park, has been receiving binding offers for this office complex, located in San Fernando de Henares, in the east of the Community of Madrid.

The international investors that have expressed their interest in the asset include the investment fund Starwood Capital and the private equity firm Carlyle, both of which have submitted binding offers and so entered the final round of bidding for the business park.

Oaktree acquired the San Fernando Business Park three years ago, when the US fund purchased a portfolio of unpaid debt worth €750 million from the German bad bank FMS Wertmanagement (FMS WM), which included, in addition to the office complex: luxury hotels, such as the Arts Hotel in Barcelona and another establishment in Cascais (Portugal); five shopping centres, including two in Madrid (Plaza Éboli and Heron City Las Rozas); several storeroom buildings; and other residential and industrial assets.

San Fernando Business Park comprises 13 buildings and spans a total surface area of 86,000 m2, as well as 2,500 parking spaces.

Moreover, the business complex boasts 40,000 m2 of green space and recreational areas. San Fernando Business park is accessible directly from the A2, M45 and M50 motorways and its onsite facilities include a gym, banks, a children’s nursery, meeting rooms and an auditorium.

Office market

As we wait to see how the sale of Hispania’s office portfolio pans out, which is worth almost €600 million but which is up in the air due to the takeover bid (OPA) that the US fund Blackstone launched for the Socimi, the purchase of San Fernando Business Park looks set to be one of the most important operations of the year in the office segment.

Investment

Last year, investment in the office segment amounted to €2.3 billion, less than half the previous year, due to less activity by the Socimis, a shortage of supply in good locations and the challenge for investors to find the desired returns.

So far this year, investment in the office segment has accounted for 42% of the total transacted volume, reaching €1.72 billion, given that the figure includes Colonial’s takeover of Axiare, which was successfully closed in February and which has caused the investment figure to soar.

More than 600,000 m2 of office space was leased in Madrid last year, which represents the best figure in the last decade, whilst in Barcelona, 345,000 m2 of office space was leased during the same period.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Liberbank Finalises Property Sale To Ensure Success Of Capital Increase

4 October 2017 – Cinco Días

Liberbank does not want to follow in the footsteps of Popular and is taking firm strides to avoid that fate. Its focus now is on shaking off the property that it still holds following the crisis, in order to project the image in the market that it has cleaned up its books and to ensure the success of its upcoming capital increase. In this way, the entity is finalising the sale of a large part of its portfolio of foreclosed assets this week, in parallel to the capital increase, which its General Shareholders’ Meeting is expected to approve on 9 October.

The entity led by Manuel Menéndez is working against the clock to ensure its independence. The CNMV has given it until 30 November to extend, for the third time, a veto on short positions that it imposed in June, a few days after Popular’s future was resolved. Sources close to the operation expect the first stage (the sale of a portfolio worth €800 million) to be closed this week. Or within 15 days, at the latest, since in that case, it would be performed in parallel to the start of the capital increase.

Liberbank received the first binding offers at the beginning of last week. And from those, it has selected three funds: KKR, Bain and Cerberus. The latter is the firm that acquired the bank’s real estate subsidiary, Mihabitans, in the summer, through Haya Real Estate. It spent €85 million on that purchase. The market described the operation as a “success” and uses it as an example for the upcoming sale of the toxic property.

Haya is exclusively managing the current foreclosed real estate assets on Liberbank’s balance sheet, as well as any future foreclosed real estate assets that end up being incorporated onto the bank’s overall balance sheet or onto those of any of its real estate subsidiaries. According to the accounts for the first half of the year, Liberbank held €3,115 million in foreclosed assets on its balance sheet, with a provision coverage ratio of 40%. Of those, €1,741 million are finished homes, €1,162 million are plots of land, €480 million are homes under construction and €402 million are offices and warehouses.

This new sale of foreclosed assets, dubbed ‘Operación Invictus’, will be closed for a price of around €400 million. Although the book value of the real estate assets in the portfolio is €800 million, the sale will be closed at a discount of at least 50%. Santander closed the sale of 51% of Popular’s property to Blackstone at a discount of 66%.

With the aim of wiping out the losses that this sale will generate and of getting rid of a large part of its real estate portfolio, once and for all, the Board of Directors of Liberbank proposed a capital increase on 6 September, which they are now trying to safeguard. The bank hopes to raise €500 million through the operation. The objective is for the bank’s default ratio to amount to 3.5% by 2019 and for the coverage ratio on its non-performing assets (doubtful loans and foreclosed assets) to rise to around 50%. At the end of June, Liberbank recorded figures of 11.3% and 40% for these ratios, respectively.

With a balance sheet of €40,000 million, Liberbank is the smallest entity of those supervised by the ECB, together with Banco Crédito Social Cooperativo, the parent company of Cajamar. One of Liberbank’s other missions is to increase its return on equity (ROE) to 8% by 2020, compared with the figure of 2.7% recorded during the first half of this year. It is the second time that the bank has increased its share capital since it started trading on the stock market in 2013. The previous capital increase, in May 2014, saw it raise almost €500 million.

Then, the bank responsible for coordinating the operation was Deutsche Bank; now it is being managed by Citi. Last time, the injection of fresh funds allowed the entity to early repay €124 million that the FROB (Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring or ‘Fondo de Reestructuración Ordenada Bancaria’) had injected it with; to strength its top-tier capital ratio to more than 10%, as if the Basel III requirements were completely applicable; and to bring forward the payment of dividends to its shareholders.

Original story: Cinco Días (by Álvaro Bayón and Pablo M. Simón)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Spain’s Banks Prepare To Sell RE Portfolios Worth €6,000M

2 October 2017 – Cinco Días

Spain’s banks are reducing their exposure to the real estate sector, step by step, under pressure from the European Central Bank and the Bank of Spain. Five entities plus Sareb are currently preparing portfolios to divest some of their properties, worth almost €6,000 million in total.

Most of the portfolios include doubtful loans or NPLs (non-performing loans) although in some cases, they also include real estate assets, most of which have been foreclosed.

After selling Popular’s assets to Blackstone, Santander is now preparing to sell a portfolio, dubbed Titán by the entity chaired by Ana Botín, through the platform Altamira that it shares with Apollo. The portfolio is worth around €400 million, according to sources familiar with the process, and is being structured as an “online shop window”, open to all potential buyers. The bank received an enormous boost in August with the sale of 51% of Popular’s real estate (primarily NPLs and foreclosed assets), which the market saw as an agile and firm response following the purchase of Popular.

Meanwhile, BBVA is managing so-called Project Sena, involving the sale of a portion of Anida to Cerberus for €400 million. Nevertheless, the market considers that the bank may end up getting rid of the entire Anida business. The bank submitted a statement to the CNMV on Thursday confirming that “it is holding conversations with Cerberus Capital”, although it made clear that no agreement has been reached yet. The nominal value of that portfolio of properties amounts to around €1,100 million. The operation follows in the footsteps of the portfolio known as Jaipur, purchased by the same fund in July.

Caixabank is also preparing two other portfolios. The first, known as Tribeca, amounting to €500 million, will come onto the market within the next few days and will mainly comprise residential assets. The second, known as Egeo, for €660 million, comprises €440 million of unsecured loans and €220 million secured by a mix of real estate assets. The entity expects to receive binding offers very soon, according to market sources.

One of the largest projects on the market has been launched by Sabadell; it is known as Voyager and amounts to €800 million. It contains some problem loans to property developers and the remainder corresponds to other sectors, such as hotels. This portfolio is almost a second part of the project known as Traveller, which the entity sold recently to Bain. The bank is expecting to receive offers in October and wants to close the process in December, according to sources familiar with the process.

Liberbank is also preparing another portfolio, containing non-performing loans, known as Invictus, with a value of €700 million, of which 50% relates to residential.

Finally, Sareb has already put a portfolio called Inés on the market, amounting to almost €500 million, which is in its closing phase. And the so-called bad bank is now preparing its first online loan sales project, initially dubbed Dubai, containing around €400 million. Moreover, the market is also expecting it to launch the sale of another portfolio amounting to €300 million, named Tambo, within the next few days (…).

Although the banks have been criticised for the slow rate of reduction of their real estate portfolios, experts indicate that they are now operating at an acceptable cruising speed (…).

The potential buyers of these portfolios (…) include Apollo, Oaktree, Bain, Cerberus, Blackstone, Lone Star, Castlelake, Värde Partners, Lindorff, TPG and Goldman Sachs.

Original story: Cinco Días (by Alfonso Simón Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Santander Negotiates With Blackstone Re Sale Of Popular’s RE

2 August 2017 – Expansión

A month after announcing that it was putting Popular’s toxic real estate up for sale, Santander has chosen the fund with which it wants to negotiate. The bank is looking to sell a portfolio of Popular’s foreclosed assets and doubtful real estate debts with a gross value of €30,000 million. It will be the largest sale of a toxic real estate portfolio in Spain in recent years. And the process is already taking shape, in the hope that Brussels will give the definitive green light to the Cantabrian bank’s acquisition of Popular, due at the end of this month.

Yesterday, Santander announced that it will negotiate exclusively with Blackstone from now on to sell a majority stake in the vehicle in which it placed the toxic property inherited following the purchase of the entity wound up by the European authorities. Santander’s initial idea is to sell 51% of this vehicle, which will allow the group to deconsolidate those real estate assets from its balance sheet. The assets and doubtful loans that Blackstone plans to acquire will be managed by Aliseda. That company already administers Popular’s real estate assets and is 100% owned by Santander after the bank repurchased the 51% stake held by Kennedy Wilson and Värde Partners a month ago.

After buying Popular, whose merger will be completed over the course of the next two years, Santander has increased its exposure to real estate risk to €41,048 million, according to the latest available data. Popular’s real estate risk amounts to almost €37,000 million, including its stakes in real estate companies, which amount to around €7,000 million.

Several offers

According to a statement made to the CNMV yesterday, Santander has received binding offers from “several investors” over the last few days for one of the largest portfolios ever to go onto the market in Spain, and also in Europe. The operation sparked immediate interest amongst the large international funds when Santander announced that it was putting Popular’s real estate up for sale on 30 June. In addition to Blackstone, Apollo, TPG, GreenOak and Goldman Sachs, amongst others, approached the bank to find out more.

Financial sources indicate that Apollo and Lone Star fought hard until the end to acquire the majority of Popular’s toxic real estate. In the last few days, some of the interested funds have asked Santander, which is being advised by Morgan Stanley, for more time to conduct due diligences (…).

The rapid sale of Popular’s real estate portfolio, which is being piloted by the Deputy Director General of Santander, Javier García-Carranza, could result in revenues of €5,000 million, according to estimates in the sector. Santander has recognised provisions of €7,900 million to increase the coverage ratio of Popular’s real estate to 69%, well above the sector average (52%). This means the bank can afford to get rid of the real estate portfolio at significant discounts and thereby recognise gains (…).

Original story: Expansión (by R. Sampedro)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Deutsche, Apollo & Cerberus Compete For BBVA’s Largest RE Development

21 June 2017 – Voz Pópuli

BBVA has three multi-million euro deals on the table to acquire some of its problem assets. In the last few days, the entity chaired by Francisco González has received binding offers from three funds to acquire the portfolio known as Project Jaipur, comprising €600 million in unpaid loans linked to real estate developments.

The three candidates to buy this portfolio, the largest that has been placed on the market to date by the entity, are Apollo, Cerberus and Deutsche Bank, according to financial sources consulted by Vozpópuli.

According to the same sources, these funds have put around €200 million on the table, and the best positioned of the three is the German fund, pending the outcome of the negotiations. BBVA and Deutsche both declined to comment. The other two candidates, Apollo and Cerberus, have their own real estate platforms in Spain, Altamira and Haya, and so they almost always analyse these types of operations.

The Spanish bank now has a few days to decide the winner of the bid, although the result will be announced imminently given the interest in closing it before the end of the first half of the year, and thus being able to reflect it in the results that will be presented in a month’s time.

Selling off property

According to the latest figures, at the end of March of this year, BBVA held almost €6,500 million in property developer loans, of which only €1,700 million were up to date. Another €4,750 million were doubtful, with a provisioning level of 56%. Almost all of these loans were secured by land and finished buildings.

In addition, BBVA has another €13,500 million in foreclosed assets, with a coverage ratio of 63%. On Monday, the CEO of the entity, Carlos Torres, insisted that cleaning up this property is one of the group’s major priorities, in order to whereby improve the profitability of Spain. At the presentation of its last results, it announced a period of three years to achieve its goal of cleaning up its balance sheet.

Torres shielded himself behind the property balance to explain why the entity he leads did not present a bid for Banco Popular, after studying its possible purchase together with Banco Santander just two weeks ago. In the end, Popular was acquired by the entity presided over by Ana Botín, for the price of €1, plus a capital increase of €7,000 million.

Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake

ECI Accelerates Sale Of 140,000 Doubtful Loans

10 April 2017 – Voz Populí

Financiera El Corte Inglés has selected three overseas funds as candidates to go through to the final round of its tender to award the first sale of doubtful loans in its history. The entity that is jointly owned by Banco Santander (51%) and El Corte Inglés (49%) has chosen Axactor, Cabot Financial and Link Finanzas as the finalists in Project Alexandria.

Through this process, Financiera El Corte Inglés wants to clean up the worst part of its credit portfolio, by selling off loans that it deems irrecoverable. Project Alexandria comprises 140,000 doubtful credits, mainly corresponding to loans worth €160 million.

This operation is generating a great deal of interest in the market, because to date, El Corte Inglés and its financing arm have not put any portfolios on the market. For this reason, the funds are all willing to pay a premium in order to begin to collaborate with the largest consumer finance company by volume of loans.

The three funds selected to participate in the final phase of the process are investors that have been operating in Spain for a while. They all have their own recovery platforms and they have a vested interest in making a name for themselves in this market.

Who are the candidates?

Axactor arrived in Spain two years go. It is a Nordic group founded by former directors of Lindorff, one of the largest platforms in this segment in Europe, which in Spain controls Aktua and provides services to Sabadell and BMN. Like its fellow group from Norway, Axactor arrived in Spain chequebook in hand and within a few months had purchased several portfolios plus the business and team at Geslico, the former subsidiary of Lico Leasing.

Cabot is also an international recovery platform, based in the United Kingdom, and with connections to Encore, one of the largest global groups, itself based in the United States. Cabot established itself in Spain a couple of years ago and made its break with the acquisition of one of the largest servicers, Gesif.

Meanwhile, Link Finanzas is another British fund whose interest in Spain dates back even earlier than those of the other two investors. Link has been purchasing portfolios in the Iberian market for years. Last year, it consolidated its international presence with the purchase of the last vestiges of BBVA’s consumer business in Italy, for €100 million.

One of these three investors will be awarded the first portfolio to bear the El Corte Inglés brand. They are expected to submit their binding offers, which could amount to €15 million – €20 million, after Easter.

The latest data from Asnet and the CNMV reveal that Financiera El Corte Inglés is one of the market leaders by market share and profit, given that in 2016, it earned more than €66 million. Besides this portfolio, there are currently more than a dozen portfolios in the market, from the main entities in the country, including: BBVA, CaixaBank, Bankia, Liberbank, Ibercaja and Popular, amongst others.

Original story: Voz Populí (by Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Project Tour: Bankia Puts €166M Property Portfolio Up For Sale

3 February 2017 – Idealista

The banking sector is starting 2017 with a bang as it accelerates the sale of properties. Bankia has put a new real estate portfolio on the market – it does not contain debt, but rather comprises 1,800 properties, including finished homes, plots of land, retail premises, industrial assets and hotels. Known as Project Tour, the package is valued at €166 million.

Bankia is one of the most active banks at divesting real estate assets once again, as it seeks to focus on its pure banking business. It is a technique that has worked well for the banks in recent years and not just in Spain, but in other countries around the world as well.

In this case, so-called Project Tour is in the hands of the firm Alantra (formerly N+1) which intends to place this property portfolio (known by its initials in English as an REO) with international investors. Its value amounts to €165.9 million, according to financial sources consulted by Idealista.

The portfolio comprises 1,292 finished homes (it does not include any subsidised housing), 324 plots of land, 159 retail premises, 20 industrial assets and 9 hotels. None of the assets in the portfolio are rented or co-owned.

The properties are primarily located in the Community of Valencia, mainly in Valencia; Cataluña, mainly in Barcelona; the Canary Islands, mainly in Las Palmas; Madrid and Castilla y León (Segovia is home to most of these assets).

According to sources consulted by Idealista, Bankia expects to receive non-binding offers from a small number of investors by the beginning of February and binding offers by the middle or end of March. In this way, it plans to close the sale of the package during the month of March.

The entity chaired by José Ignacio Goirigolzarri (pictured above) is known as one of the most dynamic in the market: in 2016, it put several portfolios up for sale, including Project Ocean, a real estate loan portfolio worth almost €400 million, which was sold to Deutsche Bank; Project Tizona, a mortgage debt portfolio worth €1,000 million; and Project Lane, containing properties worth €288 million.

Original story: Idealista (by P. Martínez-Almedia)

Translation: Carmel Drake