29 December 2016 – Vozpópuli
(…). In recent months, the Málaga-based entity has accelerated the divestment of its investment companies to make some cash ahead of the challenges that it faces over the coming months. First came the sale of Iberdrola and now, Unicaja is in advanced negotiations to sell its real estate arm to Haya Real Estate, the platform owned by the US fund Cerberus in Spain, or Altamira, owned by Apollo (85%) and Santander (15%), according to financial sources consulted by Vozpópuli. Sources at the entity say that the final decision has not been taken yet.
Through this operation, Unicaja wants to replicate the sales carried out by the large banks in 2014: Santander with Altamira, CaixaBank with Servihabitat and Popular with Aliseda. Through those deals, the banks recorded combined profits of more than €2,000 million.
It is critical that the Málaga-based entity generates profits at the moment for two reasons: the tax blow that it is going to suffer, due to the upcoming rise in Corporation Tax (CT); and the need to accumulate capital to pay back the public aid it received for Banco Ceiss (€604 million), over the next year; it has asked Brussels for more time in this regard. This would be an alternative solution to the entity’s debut on the stock market and would allow it to repay the contingent convertible bonds (CoCos) from the Restructuring Fund (Frob), which is what Ibercaja has done; yesterday, that entity repaid €163 million to the public fund. With this, the former savings banks avoid the blow for their shareholders that a debut on the stock market in the current environment would mean, although that comes at the price of them not being able to get rid of their shares.
Subsidiary up for sale
In the case of the real estate arm, the name of the subsidiary that Unicaja is negotiating the sale of is: Gestión de Inmuebles Adquiridos (GIA). It is a platform that administrates and sells the group’s foreclosed residential assets, and it has around 40 employees. It recorded turnover of €108 million in 2015, up by 5% compared to a year earlier.
Overall, GIA lost €114 million last year, because Unicaja recognised its real estate provisions in that company. In theory, this operation would only involve the sale of the management of the assets, not their title, although a small portfolio of around €50 million could also form part of the sale, according to sources close to the deal.
The entity, led until this year by Braulio Medel (pictured above, who continues to control the Foundation that owns 90% of the bank), does not have one of the largest exposures to property in the financial sector. It has foreclosed assets with a net value of €1,051 million, according to the figures as at June, which include provisions, meaning that they have a combined appraisal value of €2,690 million. (…).
The market also expects Unicaja to get rid of some of its other stakes, such as Deoleo, in which it holds a 10% shareholding and Reyal Urbis, in which the Foundation controls just over 4%. (…).
Original story: Vozpópuli (by Jorge Zuloaga)
Translation: Carmel Drake