Santander Considers Repurchasing 85% Of Altamira From Apollo

27 July 2016 – Expansión

The financial institution is considering taking back control of its real estate platform to improve its margins and create a large global firm to provide services in other countries.

The sale of Altamira could turn full circle. Santander and the US fund Apollo have held meetings in recent weeks to discuss the possibility of the Spanish bank repurchasing 85% of the real estate platform, according to financial sources consulted by Expansión.

These negotiations come just two and a half years after the financial institution decided to get rid of its controlling stake in the real estate platform. Then, Apollo fought off other funds in a competitive process in which it paid €664 million for 85% of the company, generating a gross profit of €550 million for the bank.

According to financial sources consulted, Santander’s new approach has arisen for three main reasons: the aim of creating a new area for the management of doubtful assets at the global level, ahead of the forecast increase in default rates in countries such as Brazil; to improve its margins, given that the current agreement forces the bank to pay commission to Altamira; and to take advantage of the financial improvement that Altamira is enjoying.

For the time being, the plans are in a very preliminary phase and both Santander and Apollo have explored other options for Altamira. One of the options would involve a movement in the opposite direction from the 85% repurchase: namely, to extend Apolllo’s agreement to other countries.

New management

Since Apollo took control of Altamira, changes have been introduced in the management of the platform with the aim of maximising sales. One of the new administrators’ great successes came when the company was awarded one of the four management contracts that Sareb put up for tender at the end of 2013.

Specifically, Altamira Asset Management took over the second largest contract on offer, comprising 44,000 properties and loans to doubtful property developers that had been originated by Catalunya Ciaxa, BMN and Caja 3, worth €14,000 million initially. To win this tender, the platform controlled by Apollo paid out €174 million as a deposit for this contract, which it will recover as it achieves its objectives.

In addition to these assets, Altamira administers foreclosed properties and loans linked to properties from Santander and from its main shareholder Apollo. Nevertheless, the Spanish bank will reduce the perimeter of the assets that it holds on its balance sheet as a result of the merger between Metrovacesa and Merlin Properties.

According to its accounts for 2015, Altamira Asset Management Holdings, the company in which Altamira holds a 85% stake, recorded profits of €25.2 million last year, down by 11% compared to the previous year. Part of that decrease was due to the costs of migrating Sareb’s portfolio of assets. Its turnover amounted to €267 million and the operating profit stood at €81 million. The company forecasts that its profits will increase this year thanks to the sales it will generate from Sareb: “In 2016, we will manage Sareb’s portfolio for the whole year, which is expected to increase the group’s turnover”, according to last year’s annual accounts.

Original story: Expansión (J. Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Lindorff Buys Aktua From Centerbridge For c. €300M

21 March 2016 – El Confidencial

Aktua, the real estate services company created by the former Banesto, which was acquired by the opportunistic fund Centerbridge Partners in 2012, is about to change owners once again. The Norwegian company Lindorff has reached an agreement to complete the acquisition for almost €300 million, which will turn it into one of the largest landlords in Spain. The Scandinavian company has fought off competition from Apollo Capital Management, the toxic property management arm of Banco Santander, as well as the German firm Activum SG Capital Management.

According to several sources, Lindorff has won the auction led by Barclays, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Linklaters against those two opponents, and is now putting the finishing touches to the legal conditions so that it can close the operation. It has not been simple because, whilst Aktua was on the market, its parent company, Centerbridge, acquired the real estate arm of Ibercaja – on 2 February – which meant that it had to recalculate the numbers for the potential buyers.

Aktua manages around 42,000 properties worth almost €7,000 million; those assets will be added to those that Lindorff already manages in Spain. The Scandinavian company was one of the pioneers to invest in the real estate and recovery services sector when the crisis first began. In fact, in 2012, it bought Reintegra for €100 million, the subsidiary of Banco Santander dedicated to the recovery of doubtful debts, and in December 2014, it acquired Sabadell’s recovery arm, for which it paid €160 million. Along the way, it also acquired several non-performing debt portfolios, including several from the bank led by Ana Botín.

Currently, Lindorff España, which last year appointed Alejandro Zurbano as its CEO, employs more than 1,100 professionals and has a presence throughout the country, with offices in Madrid, Valladolid, A Coruña, Alicante, Barcelona, Granada, Jerez de la Frontera, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, San Sebastián and Valencia. The multi-national company from the North of Europe has almost 4,000 employees in total, located in its 11 countries of operation, including Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Russia and Germany.

Although the amount of some of its operations have not been made public, Lindorff has invested almost €1,000 million to become one of the largest landlords in the country. Its work involves managing homes and retail premises, owned by the various real estate companies that it has acquired, claiming the payment of unpaid loans from their owners and negotiating the debt to obtain a spread. Once the last details of the purchase have been finalised, Linforff will manage non-performing loans, homes, retail spaces and land owned by Banesto, Ibercaja, Banco Mare Nostrum (BMN), Santander and Sabadell.

The sale of Aktua was essential for the main overseas funds that have become the largest landlords in Spain, because it is a volume-based business that is currently still very atomised. Sources in the market expect to see a process of concentration in the sector, in which almost €10,000 million has been invested, mainly on the purchase of non-performing loan portfolios. Some are already leaving, such as Elliott, which recently sold its recovery management platform to Cabot, and Fortress, which has now put its main businesses in Spain up for sale: the financing company Lico Leasing and the loan management platform Paratus.

For Centerbridge, the sale of Aktua is going to generate a sizeable profit, given that it acquired the platform for around €100 million in 2012 and is now selling it for almost €300 million. The real estate platform of the opportunistic fund employs 400 people and generates a gross operating profit or EBITDA of around €50 million.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Agustín Marco)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Mapfre Sold 45 Properties Worth €34.5M In 2015

23 February 2016 – Expansión

Mapfre is taking advantage of the emerging recovery of the Spanish real estate sector to accelerate the disposal of non-strategic assets from its investment portfolio. And, as a result, increase its economic return from the sale of homes, premises and offices, amongst others.

Last year, the insurance company sold 45 properties of different types for €34.5 million in total, according to its annual report submitted to the CNMV. The gross profit from these transactions amounted to €11.3 million, more than twice the amount recorded a year earlier from similar operations. In 2014, Mapfre reported profits of €4.5 million from the sale of properties.

The main asset sold in 2015 was a plot of land in Cotochico, Marbella (Málaga), which was disposed of for €12.2 million. Mapfre also sold the San Javier and San Antonio clinics in Bilbao for €4 million and €3.3 million, respectively. The other 42 properties sold by entity were “minor, non-significant assets”.

On the buy-side, the insurance group did not pass up the opportunity to acquire several iconic buildings. As such, it invested €82 million in the acquisition of a property in Madrid’s Plaza de la Independencia, 6. And, outside of Spain, it bought an office block in One Winthrop Square in Boston (USA) for €55 million. At the end of 2015, Mapfre held a property portfolio worth €2,267.7 million, which represented 4.9% of the entity’s total investment portfolio, which in turn amounted to €46,264.7 million and mainly contained sovereign debt (57.1%) and corporate fixed income (22.5%).

€943.4 million (41.6%) of the Group’s real estate portfolio related to facilities that it makes use of itself, in other words, retail outlets and offices that provide support to the insurance company’s administrative and commercial network. The remaining 58.4% (€1,324.3 million) comprises every kind of asset, available for sale and rent. The occupancy rate of its properties for rent increased slightly with respect to the previous year, to 85.9% at the end of 2015 (compared with 85.5% in 2014).

Unlike other investments in its portfolio, some of Mapfre’s properties are accounted for at book value, i.e. at acquisition cost, and not at market price. Thus, the group calculates that it has unrealised gains of €975 million. Meanwhile, the Group says in its annual report that “the unrealised gains will offset a decrease in property prices equivalent to approximately 30.06% of their own market value”.

Accounts

Mapfre clarified to the CNMV that the Brazilian CEO, María Leticia de Freitas Costas, has not signed the 2015 accounts yet “due to her inability to attend the Board meeting”, and not because of any kind of disagreement.

Original story: Expansión (by M. Ponce de León)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Quabit Recorded €6M Loss In H1 2015

17 August 2015 – Expansión

The real estate company Quabit recorded a loss of €6 million during the first half of 2015, compared with a profit of €62.3 million during the same period in 2014. According to management, the company’s earnings performance during the first half of 2014 was positively affected by the operations linked to its debt restructuring program.

Quabit has indicated that the loss recorded during H1 2015 reflects the “state of transition” in which the company currently finds itself and is the result of “limitations that have existed in recent years surrounding the launch of new projects, due to the crisis in the sector, and the difficulties involved in obtaining funding”.

Since restructuring its debt, Quabit has started to resume its activity, with projects in Zaragoza, Boadilla del Monte (Madrid) and Guadalajara, which now “need to undergo a period of maturation” before they will be reflected in the income statement.

The extraordinary impact of the debt restructuring is also reflected in Quabit’s turnover, which amounted to €4.1 million between January and June 2015, down by 91.8% on the same period last year, when the real estate company recorded revenues of €50.4 million.

EBITDA and debt

The company’s gross operating profit (EBITDA) was negative during H1 2015 (€5.8 million) compared with €71.6 million the previous year. Net debt with credit entities amounted to €355.4 million at the end of the first half of 2015, the same figure as a year earlier.

As at 30 June 2015, Quabit held a stock of 305 homes, compared with 281 homes at the end of 2014, up by 8.5%.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Realia Records Profit Of €0.2M In Q1 2015

13 May 2015 – El Economista

Realia reported a net profit of €200,000 during the first quarter of 2015, compared with losses of €7.6 million a year earlier, according to the company’s report to Spain’s National Securities Market Commission (CNMV).

The firm has attributed this improvement to: a higher margin on its rental activity, a lower negative margin on its residential activity and an improvement in financing costs.

Between January and March, total revenues amounted to €23.3 million, i.e. 33.9% lower than during the same period in 2014, due to a decrease in the sales of property developments and land, at the same time as the gross operating profit (EBITDA) amounted to €10.3 million, i.e. 59% more.

Realia reduced its net financial debt with credit institutions and similar entities by €1,018 million during the first quarter of 2015, with respect to the debt held during the same period in 2014 (48% less) and by €2 million compared with December 2014, reflecting a net generation of cash.

At 31 March 2015, Realia had total gross debt with credit institutions and similar entities of €1,710 million and had cash and cash equivalents amounting to €619 million.

Net financial debt amounted to €1,091 million. 49.6% of the group’s total debt matures in 2016 and 48.1% matures in 2017 or subsequent years.

The net financial result decreased from -€13.9 million during the first quarter of 2014 to -€5.5 million during the same period this year, representing an improvement of 60.5%. The financing cost as at 31 March 2015 amounted to 1.33%.

Original story: El Economista

Translation: Carmel Drake

Vinci Park In Exclusive Negotiations To Buy Empark For €900M

23 April 2015 – Expansión

Exclusivity / The group controlled by Ardian will purchase the parking space market leader, which has debt of €500 million.

Yesterday, the French company Vinci Park (controlled by the fund Ardian, together with Credit Agricole and Vinci) announced that it had begun exclusive negotiations with the shareholders of Empark regarding the “potential purchase” of the market leading parking space company in Spain and Portugal, which is controlled by Portuguese shareholders. “We are still negotiating to arrive at a final agreement” say sources at Vinci Park. The company is committed to maintaining an investment grade rating.

A few days ago, Empark’s shareholders said that an agreement with Vinci was imminent for the sale of a controlling stake.

Financial troubles

Other investors have expressed interest in Empark, valued at around €900 million (including debt of €500 million), including the Spanish businessman Eugenio Hinojosa who, with the support of several financial institutions, including Santander, designed a purchase offer to compete against the bid made by the French group. Empark will have to explain the transaction to its bondholders in London.

Assips is Empark’s controlling shareholder, with a 50.3% stake – the vehicle is controlled by the Portuguese firm A. Silva & Silva, which is in turn controlled by the founding families of the company who participate in the management of the group.

The top executives at Empark, which manages 500,000 parking spaces in Spain, Portugal, UK and Turkey, are José Augusto Tavares (Chairman), Pedro Mendes (CEO) and Antonio Moura.

The remaining capital is divided amongst several investment funds managed by BES (22%) and Ahorro Corporación (8.2%). The Mello family holds a 2.6% stake. These shareholders will also sell (their stakes) to Vinci Park.

Other movements

The controlling shareholders commissioned JPMorgan and Caixa Banco de Investimento (CBI) to search for a buyer in 2014. One of the reasons for exiting the company (which they acquired from Ferrovial in 2008) has been the financial troubles of the Portuguese shareholders, which have been going through a complicated bankruptcy process and have had to deal with debt maturities in recent months.

Empark recorded sales of €180 million in 2013 and a gross operating profit (EBITDA) of €63.3 million. During the first three months of 2014, Empark recorded turnover of €42.8 million, down 0.6% (on the previous year) and a gross profit of €15.3 million, in line with 2013. Vinci Park, which has operated in Spain since 1994, manages 39 car parks in various cities across the country. The company also has a presence in a further thirteen countries and generates total revenues of €704 million.

The sale of Empark coincides with the decision by KKR, Torreal and ProA to sell 49% of Saba.

Original story: Expansión (by C.Morán and D.Badía)

Translation: Carmel Drake