21 March 2018 – Vozpópuli
Banco Sabadell is stepping on the accelerator to complete its balance sheet clean up as soon as possible. After months of negotiations with the Deposit Guarantee Fund (FGD), the Catalan entity has decided to place on the market its first large portfolio proceeding from CAM’s Asset Protection Scheme (EPA). In this way, it has distributed information to investors about Project Makalu, comprising €2.5 billion in assets from the former Alicante-based savings bank, according to financial sources consulted by Vozpópuli.
This operation comprises foreclosed assets and unpaid loans from companies and individuals covered by the EPA. It follows another portfolio that has been on the market for a few days, Project Galerna, comprising €900 million in non-performing loans.
KPMG is advising Sabadell on both operations, which together comprise assets and loans worth €3.4 billion.
The group chaired by Josep Oliu has been negotiating with the FGD for months to try to kick-start these operations. The aim is that they will be followed by two more portfolios taking the total value of the assets for sale to €12 billion and whereby reset the entity’s real estate calculator. The issue is not simple because the sale of these loans may generate a hole for the Fund that would impact the State deficit.
The Catalan entity announced at the recent launch of its strategic plan in London that it maintains the objective of reducing its exposure to problem assets at a rate of €2 billion per year. With the sale of Project Makalu alone it would more than exceed that goal.
The bank held €15.2 billion in problem assets at the end of 2017, but the forecasts indicate that that figure will fall below €9 billion by 2020: €4 billion in doubtful loans and €5 billion in foreclosed assets. And that is without taking into account the divestments that are now being worked on with the FGD.
Project Makalu is the fourth largest portfolio of problem assets ever to be put up for sale by a Spanish bank, behind only Popular’s Project Quasar, amounting to €30 billion, purchased by Blackstone; BBVA’s Project Marina, amounting to €13 billion, acquired by Cerberus; and Project Hercules, amounting to €6.4 billion in mortgages from Catalunya Banc, which was bought by Blackstone.
Meanwhile, Project Galerna is similar to Project Gregal, which Sabadell sold less than a year ago to three funds: Grove, D. E. Shaw and Lindorff. That portfolio comprised loans linked to consumers, without real estate guarantees, which had already been fully written off, and so all of the proceeds from the sale were recorded directly as gains.
Besides Gregal, Sabadell closed two other major operations last year: Normandy, comprising €950 million in property developer loans, which was acquired by Oaktree, and which also proceeded from CAM’s EPA; and Voyager, comprising €800 million, which was purchased by the largest pension fund in Canada.
The latest operation launched by Sabadell joins others recently placed on the market by Sareb, BBVA, Cajamar and Kutxabank.
Original story: Vozpópuli (by Jorge Zuloaga)
Translation: Carmel Drake