Cerberus & Blackstone Compete to become Largest RE Firm in Spain

16 October 2018 – Expansión

The US funds Cerberus and Blackstone are battling it out for first place on the podium in the Spanish real estate sector. Cerberus, which has just completed the purchase of 80% of BBVA’s real estate business, has invested more than €10 billion in real estate transactions in the country over the last year. Specifically, Cerberus will now control 80% of Divarian Propiedad, the company to which BBVA has transferred its real estate business and in which the bank will retain the remaining 20%. The groups have not disclosed the price of the transaction or the value of the assets included in Divarian, although the bank did indicate at the time that its intention was to transfer assets with a gross accounting value of approximately €13 billion at an estimated price of around €4 billion.

Anida’s workforce

Divarian, which is going to be managed by Cerberus, will incorporate the specialist staff from BBVA’s former real estate platform, Anida, comprising 400 professionals, into its team.

In addition to this operation, known as Project Marina, Cerberus reached an agreement with Santander in the middle of September to purchase a portfolio of residential properties for around €1.535 billion comprising 35,700 properties, including parking spaces and storerooms. This transaction followed Project Jaipur – a portfolio of property developer loans also acquired from BBVA -; the portfolios Challenger and Coliseum, with a combined gross value of around €9.1 billion, acquired from Sabadell; and Ágora, the portfolio that Cerberus purchased from CaixaBank.

In addition to the purchase of real estate portfolios, Cerberus is the owner of: Haya Real Estate, the largest independent Spanish servicer with €40 billion in assets under management; the property developer Inmoglacier; the online real estate agency between individuals Housell; and Gescobro, the debt recovery company.

The fund, which has not specified how much it has invested since it arrived in the country, has become, together with Blackstone, one of the most active players in the purchase of doubtful debt portfolios (NPLs) and foreclosed assets (REO) with real estate collateral, and has closed more than 30 transactions in Spain over the last five years, even before the recovery of the sector.

Testa

Meanwhile, Blackstone has acquired around €20 billion in property since 2012, to which the Socimi specialising in residential rental assets, Testa, must be added, given that the US fund now controls 70% of that firm’s share capital. The fund marked a milestone last year when it purchased 51% of Banco Popular’s real estate business from Santander, with a book value of around €10.3 billion. To group together the assets, Blackstone and Santander created Project Quasar Investment, a company that includes Aliseda.

The fund is also the largest owner of hotels in Spain through HI Partners and Hispania, one of the leaders in the logistics and office ownership market in Spain.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

BBVA & Cerberus Name Their Real Estate Macro-Alliance ‘Divarian’

14 June 2018 – La Información

Cerberus and BBVA have put a name to their macro-alliance. The partners have chosen ‘Divarian’ as the name of the corporate entity into which they will deposit and through which they will manage the sale of the €13 billion gross in property proceeding from the bank. The logo mimics the images of the two partners given that it is blue in all its tones and shades.

The brand was registered by Promontoria Marina, the subsidiary of the US fund that will be used to close the transaction, in April in the Official Gazette of Industrial Property (Bopi), and BBVA has just extended it to two of its subsidiaries, renaming the asset holding company BBVA Propiedad as Divarian Propiedad, and the property developer Anida as Divarian Desarrollos Inmobiliarios. In the case of the latter, the change of name comes into force immediately given that instructions have already been given internally for it to be used in all operations signed from now on.

The recent name dance is fueling expectations that these two subsidiaries of BBVA will end up under the umbrella of a macro-holding company or, even, carrying out promotion activity, although that activity was covered by the US fund with the acquisition of the Burgos-based Inmoglacier. Owner of the property developer and servicer – Haya Real Estate – Cerberus will complete the real estate puzzle when it formalises the transaction with the bank because it will also become the owner of the assets.

BBVA, which had always moved against the tide of the financial sector when it came to the sale of businesses and subsidiaries, surprised everyone last year by putting the bulk of its property on the market. Cerberus was the successful buyer of the portfolio, and so it signed a deal to transfer €13 billion of the total €17.8 billion in gross exposure to a company in which the fund will control 80% and the bank will retain the remaining 20%. BBVA is following in the footsteps of Santander, which removed €30 billion gross (€10 billion net) from its balance sheet inherited from Popular, and transferred it to a subsidiary in which Blackstone purchased a 51% stake and Santander retained the remaining 49% (…).

Cerberus has focused on documenting and selecting assets with the intention of generating some plots of land for Inmoglacier, dedicating some assets to rent and, even, packaging up certain other properties likely to offer maximum returns into Socimis, and divesting the rest through portfolios or as independent units. The teams are working against the clock, with the support of staff from Anida who are working from Cerberus’s offices in Madrid, according to sources close to the process (…).

Original story: La Información (by Eva Contreras)

Translation: Carmel Drake