Apollo, CPPIB & ADIA Are Open to Offers for Altamira

12 July 2018 – Voz Pópuli

The ownership of the real estate company Altamira may change hands over the coming months. The company controlled by the fund Apollo has hung up the “For Sale” sign after the refinancing and restructuring of its contract with Santander, signed just a few days ago, according to financial sources consulted by Voz Pópuli.

At least 85% of the real estate firm will go on the market. The servicer currently manages assets worth €54 billion. The US fund Apollo is the entity that controls the majority stake, whilst its ownership is shared equally with two other partners: the largest Canadian fund, CPPIB (Canada Pension Plan Investment Board); and the main Abu Dhabi investment fund, the ADIA (Abu Dhabi Investment Authority) sovereign fund.

Each of them controls 28.3% of Altamira, just like Apollo, although it is the latter who leads the real estate company and chairs its Board.

Divestment

After four and a half years of investment, the main shareholders have decided that now is the right time to sell, given the strong performance of the real estate market and the appetite from large investors to enter the business.

In fact, sources consulted indicate that several international and Spanish investors have already approached Altamira. One of the candidates is Haya Real Estate, a similar platform, owned by Cerberus, which is interested in growing its business ahead of a potential stock market debut.

Another possibility being rumoured in the market is that CPPIB itself may purchase the 56% stake in Altamira currently owned by Apollo and the Abu Dhabi sovereign fund. The Canadian fund entered the market for the acquisition of toxic asset portfolios from the banks last year with a bang, by closing an operation with Sabadell; and this year, it has signed another deal with BBVA.

The possible sale of Altamira comes after the refinancing of the real estate firm agreed with the banks and the renegotiation of the contract with Santander. Thanks to this operation, the shareholders of Altamira are now going to share out a €200 million dividend, according to El Confidencial, which means that the numbers already add up for the funds.

The relationship between Apollo and Santander

Apollo and its two partners already tried to exit Altamira two years ago but failed to reach an agreement with Santander, which made a low offer that was not accepted. Since then, the real estate firm has pushed ahead with its own internationalisation by branching out into Portugal and Cyprus.

Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Santander Cuts the Cost of its Agreement with Altamira in Exchange for Paying Apollo €200M Now

10 July 2018 – El Confidencial

A new twist in the relationship between Santander and Apollo. The Spanish entity and the US fund have restructured the contract that they signed four years ago, when the former sold 85% of Altamira to the latter. As such, they have laid the foundations that will allow for the refinancing of the debt of their shared subsidiary, which specialises in real estate services.

Specifically, the new agreement involves a significant reduction in the commissions that Altamira will charge the bank, in exchange for which Santander will pay Apollo €200 million now. Moreover, a series of agreements made between the two parties means that Apollo will receive another €70 million, according to confirmation from several sources in the know.

Thanks to the cash injection that the reduction in commissions brings, Altamira has improved the conditions of its €270 million syndicated loan that it has signed with Santander, Bankinter, Bankia, Sabadell, Crédit Agricole and Mediobanca. That liability has seen its term improve by two years, to 2023, but without the repayment of the principal, given that Apollo’s aim with all of these changes (the new management contract and the new debt conditions) is to be able to distribute a juicy dividend.

Specifically, according to the sources consulted, the fund wants to take advantage of the new liquidity injection to distribute remuneration of around €200 million. In fact, Altamira’s total financial commitments, which exceed €320 million, will remain the same and will not decrease following all of this restructuring.

It was in January 2014 when Banco Santander closed the sale of 85% of Altamira to Apollo for €664 million, in an operation that included a management contract for the bank’s real estate assets until 2028. That term will be maintained following the new restructuring of the agreement.

Since then, the relationship between the two partners has gone through various phases, which have included an attempt by the bank to buy back 100% of the platform, although that deal never came to fruition for price reasons, and the acceleration made by Santander to rapidly divest all of its property (…).

One strategy, which has involved the transfer of assets to Metrovacesa and Testa, the creation of a joint vehicle with Blackstone, baptised Quasar, to provide an exit for €30 billion in toxic assets and, now, the sales process involving €5 billion in residential and tertiary assets that has been entrusted to Credit Suisse.

This operation forms part of the horizon that the bank defined last year, when it completed Quasar and announced that it was giving itself until the end of 2018 to reduce its exposure to property to an “immaterial” level, in the words of the bank’s own CEO, José Antonio Álvarez.

Nevertheless, this desire to reduce the real estate exposure to zero will have a direct impact on Altamira, given that the portfolio now up for sale accounts for the bulk of Santander’s assets, which are still managed by the servicer.

Historically, Altamira’s two main clients have been Sareb, which awarded it the contract to manage €29 billion in assets and property developer loans, and Santander, a base Apollo has been expanding by signing agreements with other entities, such as BBVA, which has entrusted it with a €200 million loan portfolio, and Bain Capital, which has engaged it to manage the €600 million portfolio that it purchased from Liberbank.

In addition, the servicer has committed to expanding internationally to grow in size, a strategy that has already seen it take over €10 billion of assets under management in Portugal and Cyprus, the first two markets into which Altamira has made the leap.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Altamira Hires Borja Ortega from JLL to Lead its International Expansion

11 April 2018 – El Confidencial

Altamira is stepping on the accelerator to become the leading servicer in the south of Europe and, to this end, has hired a heavyweight from JLL as the Head of International Expansion and member of its Executive Committee. Borja Ortega (pictured below), Director of Capital Markets at the real estate consultancy is going to join the company controlled by Apollo in May.

The first major challenge that he will have to handle is Altamira’s entry into Italy, a market that the company led by Julián Navarro has been analysing for a while to consolidate its position in the Mediterranean region, having already made its debut in Portugal and Cyprus.

The servicer entered Portugal a year ago by purchasing Oitante, a company created to manage Banif’s assets, a move that allowed it to take over the management of more than €1.5 billion in assets.

In Cyprus, last summer, the servicer created a joint venture with Cooperative Central Bank (CCB), the second largest bank in the country with €7.6 billion in financial and real estate assets, in which Altamira holds a 51% stake and which has been operational since the beginning of this year.

Heavyweight from JLL

Until now, as Head of Capital Markets, Borja Ortega has led the firm’s direct investment activities (the traditional business), its financial advisory practice (portfolios, debt, mergers and acquisitions) and its private wealth business.

Some of the most important operations that he has managed in recent times include the process to sell the Adequa office complex to Merlin and the sale of Edificio España, operations that helped his division to record growth of around 50% in the last two years.

Moreover, Ortega launched the private wealth division, which is one of the first to channel the arrival of wealthy Latin American investors in the Spanish real estate market, and he collaborated in the sale of €30 billion in toxic assets from Santander-Popular to Blackstone, an operation in which the fund was advised by JLL.

Following the arrival of the Socimis, which have now begun to consolidate in the market with the takeovers of Axiare by Colonial and of Hispania by Blackstone, and the boom in residential property development, with the stock market debuts of Neinor, Aedas and Metrovacesa, the next major movement in the sector is expected in the field of the servicers.

As we await possible mergers, for the time being, Haya Real Estate is the first firm in the sector to set its sights on the stock market, by engaging Rothschild, JP Morgan and Citi to coordinate its debut later this year. Meanwhile, Altamira has opted to create a large international platform before taking the next step, whilst Solvia has created its own property developer.

Anticipa, the servicer of Blackstone, has swallowed up Aliseda as part of the aforementioned operation involving the purchase of toxic assets from Santander, whilst Servihabitat has appointed a new CEO and it is expected that the complex balance of powers between CaixaBank and TPG will tip in one direction or the other within the next few months, as part of the recently launched process of consolidation in the sector.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Savills: Spain Leads RE Inv’t in Southern Europe

12 December 2017 – Expansión

Real estate investment in Spain is on the verge of setting a new record and positioning the country as the leader of the sector’s boom amongst its counterparts in Southern Europe. Specifically, investment in the tertiary market (offices, retail, hotels and logistics assets) in Spain looks set to amount to €8.9 billion in 2017, which represents an increase of 5% compared to the previous year and the highest figure in a decade, according to a report from the consultancy firm Savills.

The report reveals the strong performance detected in the retail and hotel sectors and also highlights that the growth in e-commerce in Spain is expected to result in greater demand for logistics and storage space, a segment that has lagged behind the main markets in Europe until now.

Luis Espadas, Director of Capital Markets at Savills España, also points out that, to the extent that demand in the more traditional sectors grows, so investors are starting to focus on alternative products, such as student halls and nursing homes. “That market may be small still but it has the potential to develop more attractive returns and price differentials”.

Other countries

The recovery of the sector in Spain has been followed by an upturn in other countries such as Italy, Portugal and, more recently, Greece and Cyprus. In this way, after a few years of weak investor activity, the volume of investment in Southern Europe increased by 277% in 2017, compared to the minimum of €5.2 billion recorded in 2012.

Overall, total investment volumes increased by 8% YoY. The markets in Southern Europe now account for 10% of the total investment in the European Union, compared to the 5% that they represented in 2012. “Economic growth, the decrease in unemployment rates and renewed consumer confidence are attracting investors back to Southern Europe”, says Alice Marwick from the Europe Research department at Savills.

Original story: Expansión (by R. Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Eurostat: House Prices Rose By 6.3% In Q1 2016

13 July 2016 – El Mundo

House prices in Spain rose by 6.3% YoY in Q1 2016, which represents the highest increase since Q3 2007, before the burst of the Spanish real estate bubble, according to the most recent data from the EU’s statistics office, Eurostat.

During the fourth quarter of 2015, house prices in Spain rose by 4.3% YoY, i.e. by two tenths less than the YoY increase of 4.5% recorded in Q3 2015.

In this way, the Spanish real estate market has recorded eight consecutive quarters of YoY rises in terms of house prices, after six consecutive years of price decreases.

Compared to the previous quarter, house prices in Spain rose by 1.4%, after remaining stable during the final quarter of 2015, which represents the highest QoQ increase in real estate prices since the second quarter of last year, when they increased by 4.1%.

Across the Eurozone as a whole, house prices rose by 3% YoY during the first quarter of 2016, in other words, by four tenths more than the YoY increase recorded in Q4 2015 and their highest increase since Q1 2008. In quarterly terms, house prices in the Eurozone rose by 0.4% between January and March, after increasing by 0.1% during the previous quarter.

Across the European Union as a whole, prices rose by 4% YoY, compared with an increase of 3.6% during the fourth quarter, whilst the quarterly increase in house prices across the twenty eight countries amounted to 0.7%, i.e. three tenths more than in the previous three months.

Of the countries for which data was available, the highest YoY house price increases were recorded in Hungary (15.2%), Austria (13.4%) and Sweden (12.5%), whilst price decreases were observed in Italy and Cyprus (-1.2% in both cases).

Compared with the previous quarter, the highest increase in house prices was recorded in Hungary (5.2%), followed by Austria (4.2%) and Romania (3.3%), whilst the most significant price decreases were registered in Cyprus (-3.4%) and Malta (-2.8%).

Original story: El Mundo

Translation: Carmel Drake