BBVA Reduces the Property Portfolio that it will Transfer to Cerberus by 12%

17 May 2018 – Expansión

BBVA is not holding back in its strategy to reduce its exposure to the real estate sector ahead of putting the finishing touches to its agreement with Cerberus. The entity has already cleaned up some of the portfolio that it will transfer to the US fund in September.

Between the reference date for the operation – the end of June 2017, and March this year, the date of the most recent audited accounts -, the bank has decreased its foreclosed assets by 12% – those assets proceed from unpaid residential and property developer mortgages.

The bank is going to create a joint venture with the US fund to reduce its real estate exposure in Spain to almost zero. BBVA will sell 80% of that joint venture to Cerberus for an estimated price of €4 billion. But that amount may vary, depending on the volume of foreclosed assets that end up being transferred.

Initially, a portfolio with a gross asset value of around €13 billion was defined. By March, the entity’s foreclosed assets balance had decreased to a gross value of €11.541 billion. Most of the portfolio comprises finished buildings and land, which are easier to sell now thanks to the recovery of the real estate sector.

To cover its gross risk, BBVA has recognised provisions amounting to €7.073 billion, which reduces its net exposure to €4.468 billion. The coverage ratio of the foreclosed assets amounts to 61%.

Sources at BBVA explain that the portfolio that is going to be transferred to Cerberus also includes the ‘other real estate assets’ caption. The bank’s gross real estate exposure, including both concepts, amounted to €12.472 billion in March compared with €14.318 billion in June 2017.

Until the close of the operation, which is scheduled for September, the assets to be transferred to the joint venture will not be finalised. “Under no circumstances will transferring fewer assets result in a loss to the income statement. In fact, this operation is not expected to have a significant impact on the income statement”, explain official sources at the entity.

Solvency

The agreement with Cerberus will improve BBVA’s solvency. In March, the bank saw its core capital fully loaded ratio worsen to 10.9%. But the transfer of the real estate portfolio to the fund and the sale of its business in Chile will improve that metric to 11.5%.

BBVA has loaned Cerberus €800 million to finance part of its purchase of the real estate portfolio from the bank. The loan has a term of two years and will not accrue any interest. The fund will repay the debt in a single payment on the maturity date.

Spain’s financial institutions have stepped on the accelerator to clean up property from their balance sheets following Santander’s macro-operation to deconsolidate real estate risk amounting to around €30 billion proceeding from Popular (…).

Original story: Expansión (by R. Sampedro)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Cerberus Wants To Buy Anida & A €4,000M Portfolio From BBVA

29 September 2017 – Expansión

BBVA is taking new steps to deconsolidate its real estate risk. The entity is holding exclusive negotiations with the US fund Cerberus to sell it a majority stake in its real estate manager, Anida.

Financial sources explain that the fund may also be interested in acquiring around €4,000 million in foreclosed assets and doubtful real estate loans from the bank.

BBVA’s real estate activity, which centres around Anida, comprises two branches. On the one hand, the manager is in charge of administration. On the other hand, it is responsible for the real estate assets, be they foreclosed properties or loans to property developers. BBVA’s gross exposure to property amounts to €20,190 million, according to the latest available data. The entity has a coverage level of 57%, which reduces its net risk in terms of the real estate sector to €8,760 million.

In a relevant fact sent to Spain’s National Securities Market Commission (CNMV), BBVA reported that it is holding conversations with Cerberus (…). “At this time, it is not possible to determine whether the conversations will end in an agreement or not, or what the terms and conditions of such an agreement, were it to be reached, might be”, said the bank.

Similar to Santander

According to sources, the intention of Cerberus is to acquire a majority stake in the real estate company, similar to the agreement that Santander reached with Blackstone to deconsolidate the real estate risk of Popular. Hours after Brussels authorised the purchase of until then the sixth largest Spanish bank by assets, Santander sold Blackstone a 51% stake in the company to offload its problem assets with a gross value of €30,000 million. That was the largest ever real estate operation in Spain.

If the negotiations with Cerberus prove fruitful, BBVA would follow the template established by Santander. Some sources indicate that Cerberus has decided to try its hardest to buy Anida after not making it past the first round in the bid for Popular’s toxic real estate. In fact, the same sources say that the CEO of Cerberus, John Snow, travelled to Madrid a few weeks ago to meet with BBVA’s President, Francisco González.

Negotiations

The negotiations, with Cerberus as the only interlocutor, are very advanced, say sources in the sector. It is expected that the sale of the majority stake in Anida and of property by BBVA could be completed within the next few weeks.

BBVA is being advised by the law firm Clifford Chance and by a team from the consultancy firm PwC. Meanwhile, Linklaters is advising the US fund, which has also hired JLL for the negotiations.

BBVA is one of a handful of banks that have retained full control over their real estate businesses. During the crisis, several entities sold their management companies to specialist funds to generate profits with which to strengthen their businesses and accelerate the divestment of problem assets. Only Kutxabank (to Lone Star) and Santander (with the transfer of Popular’s business to Blackstone) have managed to close block sales of their management arms and asset portfolios.

Original story: Expansión (by R. Ruiz & R. Sampedro)

Translation: Carmel Drake