12 September 2018 – Voz Pópuli
BBVA’s exposure to the real estate sector will have been reduced to almost zero by the end of the year. Following the sale of almost all of its property to Cerberus, the entity chaired by Francisco González has decided to accelerate the divestment of its remaining delinquent loans. To this end, it has entrusted the sale of €2.5 billion in problem loans to Alantra, according to financial sources consulted by Vozpópuli.
The operation has not been put on the market yet but it is expected to be communicated to opportunistic funds within a matter of days, maybe even this week. The name of the operation is Project Ánfora.
The operation is expected to be completed during the last quarter of the year. In that case, the year-end accounts for 2018, the final set that González will present, will reflect the fact that BBVA will have become the first large Spanish entity to clean up all of its real estate inheritance, with the exception of Bankinter, which barely had any to start with.
The latest official figures, as at June 2018, show that BBVA had real estate exposure amounting to €14.9 billion: €2.5 billion in loans to property developers and €11.5 billion in foreclosed assets, whose transfer to Cerberus will be closed soon.
Another entity that has also accelerated its clean-up process in recent months is Santander, with Project Apple, amounting to €5 billion, whose sale is currently being finalised, also to Cerberus. Afterwards, it will be left with another €5 billion to divest. The exposures of CaixaBank, Sabadell and Bankia are still above that level.
With this sudden push, the banks are seeking to fulfil the mandate established by the ECB and make their businesses in Spain profitable, which have been weighed down over the last decade by the digestion of property.
The sources consulted explain that Project Ánfora includes relatively small loans, such as mortgages and SME credits, which received financing linked to properties.
In addition to Ánfora and Marina – the sale of foreclosed assets to Cerberus – this year, BBVA has also closed the transfer of the Sintra portfolio to the largest Canadian fund, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), containing €1 billion in loans to property developers.
Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Jorge Zuloaga)
Translation: Carmel Drake