12 July 2018 – Voz Pópuli
Banco Sabadell is finalising the largest real estate divestment in its history. The entity chaired by Josep Oliu (pictured below) is negotiating with Cerberus to close the sale of Project Challenger, a package of real estate assets worth around €5 billion, according to financial sources consulted by Voz Pópuli. Sources at Sabadell declined to comment.
Cerberus is thought to be negotiating a payment of around €2 billion, according to the same sources. The agreement could be signed within the next few days. The bank has been holding exclusive negotiations for several days with the fund chaired by John Snow and led in Spain by Manuel González Cid, although it has not ruled out the possibility of other candidates also presenting offers, including Lone Star and Bain Capital.
Project Challenger comprises properties – homes, developments and land – that Sabadell foreclosed during the crisis. The assets are not covered by the Deposit Guarantee Fund (FGD), and so their sale is relatively simple, provided the negotiations do not run aground in the coming days.
Goodbye to real estate
In addition to Project Challenger, Sabadell has launched three other operations in the last few months to free up its balance sheet of toxic assets. It has already closed one of those deals: Project Galerna, which the bank sold to Axactor, as revealed by this newspaper.
In addition to Galerna, Sabadell has Project Makalu underway, with €2.4 billion in problem loans; and Project Coliseum, with €2.5 billion in foreclosed assets. These three portfolios are covered by the Asset Protection Scheme (EPA), which the bank received in exchange for taking over CAM. For this reason, their sales depend on the negotiations currently underway with FGD.
Sabadell is expected to make a decision regarding the future of its real estate over the coming weeks to reveal a radically different image of the bank at the presentation of its half-year results, which will take place at the end of this month.
For Cerberus, this agreement would see it consolidate its position as one of the largest funds with real estate assets in Spain, alongside Blackstone – which took over the property of Popular and Catalunya Banc – and Lone Star, which signed a billion euro agreement recently with CaixaBank.
Meanwhile, in Spain, Cerberus controls the platform Haya Real Estate, which it has tried to list on the stock market, albeit unsuccessfully; and it is close to signing the acquisition of Anida and BBVA’s property, pending approval from the FGD.
Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Jorge Zuloaga)
Translation: Carmel Drake