Bankia Signs Property Developer Loans Worth €450M in 2018

2 January 2019 – Eje Prime

Bankia is consolidating its return to the property development sector. The bank signed loans worth €450 million for the construction of homes during 2018, its first year back in the real estate business after the restrictions imposed by the European Commission, as a condition for saving the company from bankruptcy, came to an end.

During the year that just ended, Bankia signed several financing operations with real estate developers to construct 2,200 homes in total in Madrid, Cataluña, the Community of Valencia, Andalucía and the Balearic Islands. With these figures, the bank doubled the expectations that it had set itself when it re-launched in the real estate sector, according to reports from the entity in a statement.

Following the results of the first year, the entity chaired by José Ignacio Goiriogolzarri says that it is carrying out its activity “in accordance with the new standards of prudence in the real estate sector, which includes a requirement for adequate marketing stages and the comprehensive control of the development of projects”.

The €450 million financed in 2018 forms part of Bankia’s strategy to try to re-conquer the property developer sector and achieve a market share of 8% by 2020.

Bankia was rescued in 2012 with public aid and sanctioned by Brussels to refrain from participating in the real estate market for five years as a condition for receiving some of the capital that was used to rescue it from financial crisis.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Bankia Puts €400M Toxic Asset Portfolio Up For Sale

2 April 2018 – Eje Prime

Bankia is accelerating the sale of its toxic assets. This year is set to be a key year for the banks, in general, in terms of property divestments, and Bankia is one of the firms that is working hardest to get rid of the real estate load left over on its balance sheet. The financial institution has placed on the market its largest portfolio of toxic assets in two years, worth €400 million.

Project Beetle, which is what the Spanish bank has called this macro-operation, primarily comprises non-performing loans backed by real estate collateral. When the sale closes, the company will strengthen its property divestment plan in 2018. It already disposed of one portfolio of toxic assets worth €290 million during the first quarter of the year, according to El Independiente.

The company chaired by José Ignacio Goirigolzarri has not sold such a large portfolio since December 2015. Then, it placed a portfolio worth €645 million. Last year, Bankia raised €300 million in three operations relating to assets with debt.

With the way paved for sales thanks to the investor appetite that is accompanying the upwards cycle in the real estate sector, the Spanish bank is going to continue with its divestments in 2018 without forgetting the property development market. Not in vain, Goirigolzarri has already announced that his bank will grant €400 million per year in property developer loans between now and 2020, boosted by an objective that the entity has set itself, and which appears in its strategic plan, of reaching a market share of between 7% and 8% over the next two years.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Rental Prices Rose by 9.48% In Barcelona in 2017

15 February 2018 – Eje Prime

Rental prices are continuing to rise in Barcelona. The average price of the new contracts signed in 2017 amounted to €877.20, up by 9.48% compared to a year earlier. In this way, the Catalan capital has now recorded four consecutive years of price increases.

Last year, 49,953 new residential rental contracts were formalised in Barcelona, almost 8,000 more than in 2016, according to data published today by the Chamber of Urban Property in Barcelona.

The neighbourhood of Eixample accounted for the highest market share, with 21%, followed by Sant Martí, with 12%, Ciutat Vella, with 11%, and Sants-Monjuïc, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi and Gràcia, with 10% each.

This data contrasts with the forecasts made by the Chamber at the end of last year, which predicted a containment of prices in the city. The districts that saw the highest price rises were Sants-Montjuïc (12.43%) and Ciutat Vella (12.11%), followed by Nou Barris (11.48%) and Horta-Guinardó (10.38%). The lowest price rises were seen in Les Corts (6.73%) and Sarrià Sant-Gervasi (7.27%).

Original story: Eje Prime 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Palladium To Invest €450M In New Openings & Renovations

23 January 2017 – Cinco Días

Palladium, the hotel group controlled by the Matutes family, is planning to invest more than €450 million in new openings and renovating its existing establishments, both in Spain as well as in the Caribbean.

The hotel chain, which recorded a turnover of €558 million in 2016, up by 14% compared to the year before, said that it had completed a good year. It also appeared optimistic about the performance of the holiday market in Spain this year, especially in the Balearic Islands, where it has a larger market share.

Abel Matutes Prats, CEO of the company, said that the firm’s growth strategy in terms of number of hotels now involves managing establishments owned by third parties. “We are ready to grow quite a lot in the urban and holiday segments as a hotel manager”, he said.

The company, which has signed an agreement with Hard Rock to bring the hotel brand to mainland Spain – the US firm already has two establishments on the islands, one in Ibiza and another in Tenerife – acknowledges that it has some plans on the table that have not been finalised yet. Not so long ago, Hard Rock was mentioned as the best positioned player to manage the hotel in Edificio España in Madrid.

“There are a couple of hotels in the pipeline, but nothing has been decided yet”, said Matutes Prats, who defends this alliance as “a well-matched marriage”, which is choosing to focus on its latest addition, the opening in Tenerife, at the moment, but which is not ruling out future developments in urban destinations.

The businessman highlights the arrival of Palladium in Asia. “One day we will have to make the jump, but right now it does not form part of our plans. When we move over there, it will be to launch something big”, he said.

Original story: Cinco Días (by L.S.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

BBVA’s Purchase Of Catalunya Banc Is “Unblocked”

16 April 2015 – El Mundo

Yesterday, the US fund Blackstone finalised its purchase of a portfolio of problematic assets from Catalunya Banc (which is known by its commercial name: ‘Catalunya Caixa’) for €4,123 million. This transaction unblocks the acquisition of that entity by BBVA, which now just needs to be approved by the EU’s competition authorities.

The Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring (the FROB) confirmed yesterday that the transaction had been conducted through the transfer of the portfolio to an asset securitisation fund, with the support of the public body itself, which sits under the Ministry of the Economy.

Specifically, the FROB will subscribe to a bond issue amounting to €524.9 million, whilst Blackstone will contribute €3,598.4 million. As a result of this transaction, the US fund will acquire a portfolio of problematic loans amounting to almost €6,400 million. Last summer, the portfolio aroused (a great deal of) interest from several funds that specialise in the management of doubtful debts.

Boost to business

The completion of this sale was a necessary condition for BBVA’s purchase of Catalunya Banc to go ahead. BBVA won the competitive tender against Santander and CaixaBank.

The entity chaired by Francisco González offered €1,187 million for the ill-fated savings bank, although the final price will be lower once cumulative tax credits have been deducted and because a series of guarantees will take effect in the event that the assets acquired are impaired by more than expected.

This purchase has allowed BBVA to gain a significant presence in Catalunya, where it is now the second largest entity by market share (accounting for almost 30%), exceeded only by CaixaBank. The transaction has also allowed BBVA to boost its asset management business, by adding around €2,000 million of assets under management.

Just like in the case of Novagalicia, the tender for Catalunya Banc has received criticism from those who believe that the State has rushed to sell of both of the entities. The losses of the Catalan entity alone amounted to €11,500 million.

Original story: El Mundo (by J. G. Gallego)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Santander Reduces Its Mortgage Spread Further, To 1.49%

18 March 2015 – Expansión

The second reduction of the year / The entity has decreased its spread over euribor on its mortgages from 1.69% to 1.49%, to match ING’s offer.

Santander has reduced the cost of its mortgage once more to place its product amongst the most attractive in the market, as the all out war continues in the sector. For the second time this year, the group has reduced the interest rate on its home loans: the rate paid (by borrowers) during the first year hereby falls from 2.45% to 2%; and from the second year onwards, the spread over euribor decreases from 1.69% to 1.49%.

With this move, Santander is now positioned in line with the strategy of (many of) its competitors such as ING, Bankia and Bankinter, which have all lowered the spreads on their mortgages to around 1.5% over the last month and a half. However, it does not match the rate of 1% being offered by Kutxabank, the lowest in the sector.

To obtain these conditions, clients must hold various products with the bank. Mortgage holders will have to receive their salaries in their accounts with the entity and they must earn a minimum monthly income of €2,000. In addition, mortgage holders must pay three bills (direct debits) from their Santander accounts, use the bank’s cards, and also take out home and life insurance policies with the entity.

Mortgages have become a key product for Santander in its efforts to achieve its main goal: namely, to increase the loyalty of its customers. Mortgage (marketing) campaigns targeted at individuals and Project Advance, which focuses on SMEs are the ‘hooks’ with which Santander is seeking to attract and retain customers in Spain, which currently number 12.6 million.

The entity’s mortgage portfolio in Spain amounts €47,000 million. Although the new loan book grew by 64% in 20134, its total stock decreased by 5.8% last year, from €50,000 million at the end of 2013.

Santander holds a market share of 10.2% in the mortgage sector in Spain, having gained 0.2 points between January and November 2014, according to the latest data presented by the bank. This falls below its market share of the Spanish loan sector (in general), which amounts to 13.5%.

Original story: Expansión (by M. Martínez)

Translation: Carmel Drake