19 March 2018 – Expansión
Santander and Blackstone are moving forward with the creation of the joint venture that is going to hold the former real estate portfolio of Popular. The US firm controls 51% of the company’s share capital and also manages the assets, for which it has paid around €5 billion. Meanwhile, Santander retains 49% of the shares.
The joint venture is going to group together assets with a gross value of €30 billion. Within the framework of the agreement, the assets were appraised at €10 billion, the book value at which they are recorded on Popular’s balance sheet following the clean up applied by Santander.
The balance sheet of the joint venture, known as Project Quasar, is going to be backed by around €3 billion in capital to be contributed by the two partners and debt. In this sense, the company owned by Santander and Blackstone has just closed a syndicated loan agreement led by Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank amounting to €7.3 billion. Blackstone is also participating in the syndicate, through one of its companies, and will contribute €1 billion, equivalent to 14% of the total financing.
The loan has been signed for a five-year term and is due to mature on 15 May 2023. The interest rate has been fixed at 1-month Euribor, with a floor of 0% and a spread of 3.15% for the first three years. From the fourth year onwards, the differential will increase to 3.25%. 1-month Euribor currently stands at -0.371%.
The loan has an initial commission of 0.8%. In turn, Santander and Blackstone must allocate 70% of their joint company’s net income to repaying the debt. According to financial sources, the price of the loan is in line with the conditions of the assets owned by Blackstone and Santander’s company. Although the joint venture’s portfolio comprises foreclosed assets and non-performing loans, the transfer of those assets to the new firm has been performed at around one-third of their nominal value; moreover, the assets have mortgage guarantees, which has allowed Santander and Blackstone to reduce the cost of its financing.
It is also worth noting the ranking that the loan has in the debt structure of the company. It is a senior liability, which means that it has collection preference over other claims. Ultimately, add the sources, it is the owners and not the banks who are going to be left with the asset risk (…).
Popular’s package of assets, included in the agreement with Blackstone is broken down as follows: €1.9 billion in properties; almost €3.2 billion in loans proceeding from real estate activity; and €4.3 billion in other types of assets linked to the property development sector, including deferred tax assets (…).
If the operation is not completely finalised by 31 March, the agreement for the joint venture may be terminated at the behest of either partner.
Original story: Expansión (by M. Martínez & I. Abril)
Translation: Carmel Drake