Unicaja Negotiates Sale of 3,700 Refinanced Mortgages Worth €250M

24 April 2019 – El Confidencial

Unicaja Banco could become one of the first entities in Spain to sell refinanced mortgages whose borrowers are now up to date with their payments.

The Málaga-based entity has engaged EY to coordinate the sale of 3,700 doubtful loans worth €250 million. The mortgages went unpaid during the crisis and were all refinanced, such that the borrowers are now up to date on their payments.

To date, barely any Spanish entities have tried to sell assets of this kind. But pressure from the ECB to improve returns is forcing Unicaja to give it a shot. The mortgages are still classified as doubtful, since the Bank of Spain establishes that a borrower has to pay 12 monthly instalments and reduce some of the capital for a loan to be considered normal.

The sale of the mortgages by Unicaja has been called Project Biznaga and forms part of a larger asset divestment process being undertaken by the entity, worth around €1 billion. The sale is generating a lot of interest amongst international investors and is going ahead in parallel to the bank’s merger negotiations with Liberbank, which are in their final stages.

Unicaja has one of the lowest exposures to problem assets in the Spanish financial sector and the highest levels of coverage. According to the latest official figures, as at December 2018, it had €3.6 billion of foreclosed and doubtful assets and a coverage ratio of 57%.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Unicaja Puts NPLs Worth €1bn+ Up for Sale Ahead of Merger with Liberbank

8 April 2019 – El Mundo

Unicaja has placed non-performing loans and assets worth more than €1 billion up for sale ahead of its merger with Liberbank, which was launched at the beginning of last year and whose completion is scheduled for the autumn.

The Málaga-based entity, which started 2019 with €3.6 billion in non-performing assets (NPAs) on its balance sheet, wants to clean up 30% of that amount over the next six months.

Meanwhile, Liberbank has carried out several operations in recent years to substantially reduce its volume of NPAs, but still wants to cut the figure of €3.2 billion as at December 2018 by half.

Both entities have actually been in the process of liquidating doubtful loans and foreclosed assets since 2015. But the upcoming merger and need to assign a value to their balance sheets is putting pressure on them to accelerate their respective clean-ups.

Last year, Unicaja divested €995 million in doubtful loans and foreclosed homes, land, garages etc.

Original story: El Mundo (by César Urrutia)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Nyesa Buys 176 Homes from Liberbank for €5.8M

29 March 2019 – Eje Prime

Nyesa has purchased a batch of 176 homes from Liberbank for €5.8 million. Together the properties, which are all finished, span a combined surface area of more than 20,000 m2.

The company plans to sell some of the homes and rent out the others. According to the real estate company, the appraisal value of the property portfolio amounts to €13.3 million.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Liberbank Sells its HQ on the Outskirts of Madrid for €45.3M

1 March 2019 – El Confidencial

Last year, Liberbank sold its headquarters in Madrid for €45.3 million under a sale and leaseback arrangement, generating gains of €23.4 million. The bank will continue to occupy the property, located in the Fuente de la Mora area of the Spanish capital, on a rental basis.

Liberbank acquired the building from Sareb in 2015. The identity of the purchaser has not been revealed.

Original story: El Confidencial

Summary translation by: Carmel Drake

Countdown to Los Berrocales: Investment of €4.4bn Over 20 Years

18 February 2019 – Eje Prime

More millions for Los Berrocales. Joaquín Gómez, manager of the Los Berrocales Compensation Board, expects investment of up to €4.4 billion from the owners and future housing developers over 20 years. That amount will be added to the €200 million that has already been invested by the owners in pipelines, collectors, infrastructures, service roads and earth movement work.

The proposal that has been reached with the owners of Los Berrocales is that the neighbourhood will be constructed in phases. First, phases I and III, which are expected to involve the construction of 10,000 homes over 10 years. The rest of the construction work will be carried out in the following decade. Up to 100,000 homes from the plan, located in Los Cerros and Valdecarros, will be suspended due to the requests filed for compensation against the Town Hall, according to reports from Cinco Días.

Nevertheless, the approval of the agreement does not mean that the construction work is going to begin immediately. In fact, Gómez expects that construction of the homes could begin in 2022 or 2023. For now, there are no threats of suspensions for political reasons given that Ahora Madrid, Ciudadanos and the PP are all in favour of the project. The position of Pepu Hernández, the likely socialist candidate, if he is elected mayor, remains to be seen.

The owners of the 8.3 million m2 of land include Habitat, Pryconsa, Santander, Caixabank and Liberbank. Another of the major landowners is the Town Hall of Madrid, which holds almost 8% of the plots.

Original story: Eje Prime 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Unicaja Sells Problem Assets to Cerberus & AnaCap for €120M

23 January 2019 – Eje Prime

Unicaja is divesting its toxic assets. The Málaga-based entity sold two portfolios of problem assets amounting to €330 million to Cerberus and AnaCap at the end of 2018. In this way, it managed to clean up its balance sheet and improve its accounts for last year, ahead of the merger with Liberbank, reports El Confidencial.

The problem assets consisted of one portfolio of mortgages amounting to €230 million, which were sold to Cerberus and another portfolio containing property developer loans amounting to €100 million, which was acquired by AnaCap.

According to the latest published accounts, Unicaja held €3.9 billion in problem assets (flats, land and unpaid loans) as at September 2018, and so the two portfolios sold account for more than 8% of the total. In the market, it is estimated at the Málaga-based bank obtained proceeds of around €120 million in exchange for the sale of the two portfolios.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Spain’s Banks Plan to Sell Real Estate Worth €12.5bn+ over the Next 2 Years

19 November 2018 – El Economista

The banks have set themselves the deadline of 2020 to reduce the property that remains on their balance sheets to an absolute minimum. On the basis of the strategic plans set out by Bankia, Liberbank, Ibercaja and the portfolio of commercial premises put up for sale by Santander, the entities are planning to divest at least €12.5 billion in non-performing assets over the next 24 months.

At this stage, we do not yet know which objectives CaixaBank will set itself in this regard; the entity will unveil its new strategic plan in London on 27 November. Meanwhile, the entity led by Ana Botín has delayed the presentation of its new objectives to the beginning of next year, as it awaits the evolution of the outcome of the elections held in Brazil in October. The exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, which must take place in March, is also important for the group.

Spain’s entities have accelerated the divestment of their real estate in a frantic fashion over the last 15 months. This summer, Banco Sabadell sold four portfolios of non-performing assets for a combined gross value of €12.2 billion. Those operations allowed the entity to fulfil in one fell swoop the objective that it had set itself in its Strategic Plan 2018-2020 to reduce its non-performing assets by €2 billion per year.

At the end of the third quarter of this year, the entity led by Josep Oliu held €13.62 billion in toxic property left on its balance sheet, nevertheless, once the sales undertaken this summer have been completed, that exposure will be reduced by almost half to €7.67 billion, most of which comprises doubtful loans. The exposure of foreclosed assets has been reduced to around €1.2 billion.

Orderly reduction

With respect to Bankia, in its Strategic Plan to 2020, the entity projected an annual reduction in non-performing assets of €2.9 billion, which would result in the clean-up of €8.7 billion over three years. The bank chaired by José Ignacio Goirigolzarri has divested €2.4 billion during the first three quarters of this year, according to its latest accounts at the end of September, which means that it needs to sell only another €500 million during the final quarter (…).

In the same way, Liberbank closed the third quarter of the year with gross non-performing assets amounting to €3.6 billion, 25% less than it held a year ago. The bank has set itself the objective of leaving €1.7 billion on its balance sheet by the end of 2020, in other words, €1.9 billion less than it currently has.

Finally, Ibercaja, which also unveiled its objectives to 2020 in March, announced its plans to reduce its toxic assets by 50% in three years, which would mean decreasing the balance by around €1.85 billion.

15 months of sales

Santander fired the starting gun on this race with the sale of 50% of Popular’s property to Blackstone, in an operation announced in August last year. Since then, the largest sale by the bank was a portfolio of flats and garages to Cerberus in September, for a purchase price of around €1.535 billion. Thus, the bank still has a second portfolio of foreclosed assets up for sale with a gross value of around €2.4 billion (…).

The most active investment funds to purchase portfolios over the last few months have been Cerberus, Blackstone and Lone Star. Between then three of them, they have made acquisitions of foreclosed assets and doubtful loans from the Spanish banks and Sareb amounting to €48 billion (…).

Original story: El Economista (by Eva Díaz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Haya Real Estate Negotiates Contracts with Sareb & BBVA Ahead of its IPO

31 July 2018 – Europa Press

Haya Real Estate, the Spanish real estate servicer owned by the US fund Cerberus, has linked its possible IPO in Spain to the “visibility” that it obtains over the negotiations that it is holding to renew its contract to manage the real estate assets of Sareb and to take over the contract of BBVA.

That is according to the firm’s Finance Director, Bárbara Zubiria, speaking during the presentation of the servicer’s half-year results.

With respect to Sareb, Haya Real Estate is currently offering the bad bank various alternatives ahead of the termination, in mid-2019, of its contract to manage some of the bad bank’s assets.

In terms of BBVA, the firm is waiting for the entity to decide whether to award it the management of the assets that it is going to transfer to a joint venture owned by the bank together with Cerberus.

For the time being, during the first half of the year, Haya Real estate saw its revenues rise by 20% to €130.2 million, boosted by an “increase” in the commissions that it charges for its activity and management.

Meanwhile, the EBITDA grew by 16% to €64.9 million, according to reports from the company.

During the first half of the year, the servicer led by Carlos Abad managed assets amounting to €38.8 billion, on which it closed transactions worth €2.4 billion, up by 58% YoY.

In financial terms, at the end of the period, the firm had corporate debt amounting to €463 million.

Spain’s first listed servicer

Haya Real Estate is continuing to weigh up the pros and cons of its leap onto the stock market even though two of the three real estate companies that had announced their debuts, Azora and Testa Residencial, postponed their own IPOs and have opted to list on the MAB instead.

In the event that it does make its stock market debut, the firm led by Abad will become the first of its kind to list on the stock market in Spain and one of the first in Europe.

The servicer of Cerberus is not a real estate company, but rather a company that manages and develops real estate assets for third parties, in this case, primarily assets that were foreclosed by the financial institutions during the crisis.

Constituted in 2013, the firm currently manages loans and real estate assets worth almost €40 billion. Some of the entities that have entrusted the firm with the management of their assets include Cajamar, Liberbank, BBVA, Sareb and Bankia, amongst others.

Original story: Europa Press

Translation: Carmel Drake

Alantra Creates Leading European Advisor for Sale of Toxic Asset Portfolios

12 July 2018 – Expansión

Alantra has just signed a document that is going to make it the leading advisor to banks in Europe for the sale of toxic asset portfolios. The deal was signed yesterday in London and involves the purchase of KPMG’s international business specialising in those kinds of bank cleanups. The team comprises more than 35 professionals, mainly seniors, who will move across to form part of Alantra and who will take with them the sales mandates, worth €16 billion, that they are working on at the moment, according to sources at the firm.

After almost a year of negotiations with KPMG, the division is finally going to join forces with the investment banking team led by Santiago Eguidazu (pictured above) to create a new company with more than 75 professionals. The new company will be a subsidiary of Alantra and will be dedicated to advising banks regarding the best exits options for their portfolios of non-performing assets.

To date, Alantra has advised 80 operations in this business across five countries since 2014, for a total nominal value of more than €65 billion. Meanwhile, KPMG’s team has advised on more than 100 transactions worth €180 billion during the same period. The resulting company has averaged 45 transactions per year for the last four years and has advised an operation volume of more than €61 billion. The transaction will involve a cash disbursement for the Spanish firm of €2.83 million.

Banks and funds

The new division will be particularly active in the medium-sized transaction market generated by both banks and funds. The focus will be primarily on Europe, but also other countries around the world where the firm has a presence. In its activity, Alantra will compete above all with PwC, the other major player in the European portfolio business alongside KPMG, and with the US giants Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs for the largest contracts.

KPMG’s international team is headquartered in London, with local offices in Milan, Athens, Dublin and Lisbon. Alantra adds Madrid to that list, from where it has organised its global coverage of the portfolio business to date, which has seen it advise operations not only in Spain but also in Portugal, Italy, Greece and Eastern Europe.

The team at Alantra has been responsible for the sale of portfolios by almost all of the Spanish banks, ranging from Sabadell (with which it is working at the moment) to Santander, and including BBVA, CaixaBank, Bankia, Liberbank, Ibercaja and the domestic subsidiary of Deutsche Bank.

The current Head of Alantra’s Portfolio Business, Joel Grau, will lead the new subsidiary, together with Andrew Jenke and Nick Colman, from KPMG.

Global advice

Between the three of them, they will pursue the objective of replicating on a European scale the model that Alantra has been adopting in Spain, and which is based on providing global advise to banks from three perspectives: corporate operations, real estate (large properties and loans from financial entities, as well as those relating to shopping centres and hotels) and portfolios of toxic assets, according to sources at Alantra.

They will operate from two main centres: Madrid and London, where many of the funds that buy the banks’ portfolios are located and thanks to which the business is expected to soar, by reselling financial assets acquired or securitising them to put them on the market.

Original story: Expansión (by Inés Abril)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Santander Cuts the Cost of its Agreement with Altamira in Exchange for Paying Apollo €200M Now

10 July 2018 – El Confidencial

A new twist in the relationship between Santander and Apollo. The Spanish entity and the US fund have restructured the contract that they signed four years ago, when the former sold 85% of Altamira to the latter. As such, they have laid the foundations that will allow for the refinancing of the debt of their shared subsidiary, which specialises in real estate services.

Specifically, the new agreement involves a significant reduction in the commissions that Altamira will charge the bank, in exchange for which Santander will pay Apollo €200 million now. Moreover, a series of agreements made between the two parties means that Apollo will receive another €70 million, according to confirmation from several sources in the know.

Thanks to the cash injection that the reduction in commissions brings, Altamira has improved the conditions of its €270 million syndicated loan that it has signed with Santander, Bankinter, Bankia, Sabadell, Crédit Agricole and Mediobanca. That liability has seen its term improve by two years, to 2023, but without the repayment of the principal, given that Apollo’s aim with all of these changes (the new management contract and the new debt conditions) is to be able to distribute a juicy dividend.

Specifically, according to the sources consulted, the fund wants to take advantage of the new liquidity injection to distribute remuneration of around €200 million. In fact, Altamira’s total financial commitments, which exceed €320 million, will remain the same and will not decrease following all of this restructuring.

It was in January 2014 when Banco Santander closed the sale of 85% of Altamira to Apollo for €664 million, in an operation that included a management contract for the bank’s real estate assets until 2028. That term will be maintained following the new restructuring of the agreement.

Since then, the relationship between the two partners has gone through various phases, which have included an attempt by the bank to buy back 100% of the platform, although that deal never came to fruition for price reasons, and the acceleration made by Santander to rapidly divest all of its property (…).

One strategy, which has involved the transfer of assets to Metrovacesa and Testa, the creation of a joint vehicle with Blackstone, baptised Quasar, to provide an exit for €30 billion in toxic assets and, now, the sales process involving €5 billion in residential and tertiary assets that has been entrusted to Credit Suisse.

This operation forms part of the horizon that the bank defined last year, when it completed Quasar and announced that it was giving itself until the end of 2018 to reduce its exposure to property to an “immaterial” level, in the words of the bank’s own CEO, José Antonio Álvarez.

Nevertheless, this desire to reduce the real estate exposure to zero will have a direct impact on Altamira, given that the portfolio now up for sale accounts for the bulk of Santander’s assets, which are still managed by the servicer.

Historically, Altamira’s two main clients have been Sareb, which awarded it the contract to manage €29 billion in assets and property developer loans, and Santander, a base Apollo has been expanding by signing agreements with other entities, such as BBVA, which has entrusted it with a €200 million loan portfolio, and Bain Capital, which has engaged it to manage the €600 million portfolio that it purchased from Liberbank.

In addition, the servicer has committed to expanding internationally to grow in size, a strategy that has already seen it take over €10 billion of assets under management in Portugal and Cyprus, the first two markets into which Altamira has made the leap.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake