Blackstone & Oaktree Compete For 5,000 Sabadell Homes

10 December 2015 – Expansión

Banco Sabadell is finalising what could be the largest block sale of homes by a Spanish bank in 2015. The Catalan entity is negotiating with the US funds Blackstone and Oaktree to transfer 5,000 rented homes, as part of Project Empire. Sources at the entity declined to comment on the operation.

Although there have been larger portfolio sales involving debt this year, all indications are that this sale will be the largest in the foreclosed asset segment, a space that only BMN and Bankinter have been active in so far in 2015. Popular considered it, but suspended its sale in the end and the portfolio sales that Bankia and Ibercaja currently have underway may be delayed until the first quarter of 2016.

Project Empire is an operation that Sabadell has been preparing for a long time and which has generated significant interest in the market. The 5,000 homes have a nominal value of €600 million. The fact that they are already rented out means that the most established funds in Spain have expressed their interest in them.

Such is the case of Blackstone, which owns the Anticipa platform – formerly CatalunyaCaixa Inmobiliaria – and which has purchased several bank portfolios. Meanwhile, Oaktree has unleashed itself as one of the major international investors in Spanish property, with the purchase of assets from Bankia, Ibercaja and FMS, the German bad bank.

Sabadell has reduced the volume of problematic assets on its balance sheet by €3,500 million since the start of 2014, down to €22,350 million by September 2015.

Original story: Expansión (by J. Z.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Project Goya: Ibercaja To Sell Loans To Oaktree For €350M

27 October 2015 – Expansión

Ibercaja continues to take steps to clean up its balance sheet as the rumour mill runs rife about mergers in the sector.

The Aragonese entity is negotiating the finishing touches on the transfer of one third of its portfolio of property developer loans to the US fund Oaktree, with a nominal value of €900 million, according to financial sources. The agreed price will amount to between €350 million and €400 million.

This will be the largest divestment undertaken by Ibercaja to date and fits within the current clean up strategy that the medium-sized entities are accelerating ahead of going public or merging next year.

The sale forms part of Project Goya, which Ibercaja put up for sale before the summer, guided by the investment bank N+1.

This portfolio comprises debt from 124 Spanish property developers and is secured by finished housing and developable land. In total, the loans are linked to almost 2,200 homes and other residential assets, primarily located in Andalucía, Madrid and Cataluña.

Goldman Sachs and Blackstone are also competing in the final stage of the process alongside Oaktree. These types of portfolios tend to be placed in the market for around one third (of their nominal value), therefore Ibercaja looks set to make a gain of €50 million more than it initially expected.

With the sale of these kinds of assets, Ibercaja is looking to fulfil two main objectives: clean up its credit portfolio and obtain resources – free up provisions – to use in its recurrent business.

Express clean-up

After Bankia, the entity led by Amado Franco is the Spanish group that has taken the most decisive strategy to divest its real estate portfolio. Both entities have launched operations to drastically reduce their real estate exposure. In the case of Bankia, this strategy is focused on Project Big Bang – comprising assets amounting to €4,800 million – for which it has so far received offers from Oaktree and Cerberus.

Meanwhile, in addition to Project Goya, Ibercaja has another project underway known as Project Kite. There it is looking to sell the majority of its foreclosed assets: 6,900 residential units, 1,300 premises and industrial warehouses and 600 plots of land, worth €800 million. (…).

For Oaktree, this operation would enable it to strengthen its strategy in Spain. The fund has already closed two large purchases in recent months, namely: the problem debt from the German bad bank, FMS, in Spain, with loans secured by hotels, such as the Arts de Barcelona hotel; and a portfolio of unpaid mortgages from Bankia.

Original story: Expansión (by Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake