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

Catalan Occidente Merges its RE Subsidiaries to Cut Costs

7 March 2019 – Expansión

Catalana Occidente is looking to cut costs by merging some of its recent real estate purchases, without impacting the entity’s business model.

Last year, the insurance company acquired Chezsuccess, owner of the Luxa Business Park in Barcelona, home to the headquarters of Amazon and WeWork, for €90 million. That firm has subsequently been renamed GCO Activos Inmobiliarios.

Catalana Occidente also bought Legión Empresarial, owner of the WIP office building in Barcelona’s 22@ district, for €20 million.

Now it is merging its two subsidiaries, which means that all of the acquired assets will be grouped together in GCO Activos Inmobiliarios.

In total, the insurance group’s real estate assets were worth €1.4 billion at the end of 2018, accounting for 12% of its investment portfolio. Fixed income securities represented 59% (€6.6 billion) of the total and equities 11% (€1.3 billion).

Original story: Expansión (by E.d.P)

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

The Grifols Family Joins Forces with Corp Promotor to Create the Largest Rental Home Group

8 January 2019 – El Confidencial

After two small ventures in the sector, the Grifols family is entering the real estate sector in a big way. And it is doing so to create the largest rental home developer in Spain. Through the company Scranton, which is controlled by the Grifols family and a group of former directors from the pharmaceutical company, they are joining forces with the Catalan property developer Corp Promotors to constitute a group that is going to build 2,500 rental homes in the Barcelona area over three years, according to sources in the real estate sector familiar with the group’s plans, which are expected to involve an investment of €230 million in total.

This corporate alliance is being carried out by the company Scranton and does not involve the Grifols as a company, which has been left out of the operation. But the success of Grifols has been impacting its shareholders for a long time now. The Dutch firm Scranton, owner of 8.67% of Grifols, is mobilising investments in other sectors using the profits obtained by the company that bears the family name.

Spokespeople from Corp declined to comment on the matter. But other financial sources familiar with the project explain that Scranton and Corp are going to create a joint venture company, in which Scranton will hold 66% and Corp will own 34%. Corp will provide land, including assets such as plots on Rambla Guipúzcoa, Bonaplata and Can Batlló II, next to Gran Vía, all in the Catalan capital. And the Grifols will provide the funds to build on that land. Sources in the real estate sector indicate that half of those 2,500 homes will be constructed in the city of Barcelona and the remainder will be built in nearby cities such as on the Torreblanca plots in Sant Just Desvern and in towns such as L’Hospitalet, Badalona and Terrassa, for example.

Corp Promotors was created by two partners who left a nightclub business in Mataró to enter the real estate sector a decade ago, at the height of the real estate crisis, when almost all of the property developers in Barcelona had abandoned their activity after running out of bank credit. Those two partners are Pedro Molina Porras and Pau Castro Sáez. According to the consolidated accounts of the group deposited at the Mercantile Registry, Corp Promotors recorded revenues of €99.8 million in 2017 and profits of more than €7 million. The book value of the group’s plots are worth €209 million but not all of them will be involved in the operation with the Grifols.

The Grifols and its partners have detected a housing emergency in Barcelona, with an alarming lack of developments and they have entered the market in search of profitability at a time when investors have surplus funds, but there are insufficient assets (…).

New player

Through its alliance with Corp, the Grifols are aspiring to become one of the major players in the Spanish real estate sector. According to the business plan prepared by the partners, once the new company is operating at full capacity, in three years time, it could be worth €1 billion and with rental assets that will convert it into a kind of high yield bond for investors.

That will be possible because Corp is one of the largest owners of land at the moment in the Barcelona area. But with so many projects underway, the group is very indebted. Its accounts reflected debts of €142 million at the end of 2017, twice the figure of a year earlier. Corp’s shareholders have been trying to sell the property developer, in whole or in part, for a year, according to sources in the real estate sector. Now, with the new partner, they can forget those plans and enter another phase of their corporate life (…).

Original story: El Confidencial (by Marcos Lamelas)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Haya Reactivates its IPO After Protecting its Mega-Contract with Sareb

8 November 2018 – Cinco Días

One of the IPOs scheduled for this year is going to be executed next year, most likely in the window that will launch in May. The bane that was weighing down on Haya Real Estate, the end of its mega-contract with Sareb, has almost been lifted. The contract was signed in January 2015 and expires in December 2019, but financial sources are now certain that it is going to be renewed. Nevertheless, Sareb is likely to pay lower commissions to the real estate asset manager (servicer, in the jargon). The appraisal value of the firm ahead of its stock market debut amounts to around €1.2 billion.

Last May, Sareb put assets worth around €23.5 billion up for sale, comprising property developer loans and real estate assets. They accounted for 60.6% of the €38.8 billion that Haya had at the end of June.

That caused investors to panic about their bonds, whose yield soared to 8.5% (refer to the graph) and put in doubt Haya’s stock market debut this year, as Cinco Días published on 4 June. Now, the yield on that debt amounts to less than 7%. Haya has engaged Rothschild as its chief IPO advisor and Citi and JP Morgan as the coordinators.

But last summer, the so-called bad bank decided to suspend that operation and opt, in all cases, for smaller sales. Thus, the firm controlled by Cerberus was going to manage those assets until the end of the year. The sources consulted indicate that, after the divestment was ruled out, the negotiations between Sareb and Haya progressed at a good pace and the likelihood of the contract being extended now exceeds 90%. Barring a last-minute change of heart, the two entities will announce the extension of the agreement before 30 June 2019. Nevertheless, a spokesperson for Sareb clarified that a decision has not yet been taken. A spokesperson for Haya declined to comment on the information.

The final discussion points relate to the commission that Sareb is going to have to pay Haya. By contrast, the servicer is not going to pay any upfront payments, like it did in at the start of the current contract, for €235 million.

The other question that must be resolved in parallel to the stock market debut is that of a possible merger. Sabadell has put its asset manager, Solvia, up for sale for around €400 million, and Cerberus (Haya’s main shareholder) is the main interested party. In fact, Cerberus has already acquired 80% of Sabadell’s real estate assets with a book value of €9.1 billion. Santander and Apollo are also in the process of selling Altamira, and Haya is exploring possible business opportunities outside of Spain.

In addition to Sareb’s assets, Haya Real Estate is also likely to manage the majority of the assets that BBVA has sold to Cerberus for around €4 billion (with a book value of around €13 billion). It has also already been agreed that Haya Real Estate will manage the future flows of toxic property from BBBA. Haya will also add the so-called Ágora portfolio to its assets, comprising €650 million purchased by Cerberus from CaixaBank.

Until the amount of assets managed is increased, it already has a Bankia portfolio amounting to €5.5 billion under management, thanks to a contract signed in May, as well as portfolios from Cajamar (€5.9 billion), Liberbank (€2.9 billion) and other firms (€1 billion). Between January and June, Haya recorded revenues of €130.2 million, of which €64.9 million was converted into EBITDA. On Thursday 15 November, the firm will publish its accounts to the end of September.

Original story: Cinco Días 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Castellana to Merge the Kinépolis & Alameda Shopping Centres in Granada

2 November 2018 – Eje Prime

Castellana is making changes in Granada. The Socimi owned by the South African fund Vukile is going to merge the Alameda Retail Park and the Kinépolis shopping centre into a new brand, called Granaita, according to explanations provided in a corporate presentation that the firm has distributed to potential investors.

The company, which has been listed on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB) since July, will invest €5 million in the process to reposition and integrate its two shopping centres in Granada.

Castellana is one of the emerging players in the current retail market in Spain, in which it specialises. The objective of the company is to be “the leading Socimi in the retail sector”, adds the company, whose objectives include the optimisation of its asset portfolio. The operation that it is going to carry out in Granada sits firmly within that framework.

The real estate manager acquired Kinépolis in June 2017, through the company Junction Parque Granada. The asset, inaugurated in 2004, comprises eight stores with a gross leasable area of 18,508 m2 and is worth €32.5 million.

Meanwhile, Alameda Retail Park was incorporated into Castellana’s portfolio in December last year. Located in the municipality of Pulianas, in Granada, the park began operating in 2014 and comprises four stores with a gross leasable area (GLA) of 27,256 m2. The monthly rent at Alameda amounts to €10.71 and its market value stands at €55.3 million.

The fund that sustains the Socimi financially, Vukile, is going to inject up to €200 million over the next few years to continue with its plan to conquer the commercial sector in Spain, where it hopes to form a portfolio worth €1.2 billion. Castellana is going to look for new shareholders to inject the resources necessary to carry out this plan, which seeks to enable the Socimi to make the leap from the MAB to the main stock exchange within the next three years.

In pursuit of this goal, Vukile acquired four shopping centres from Unibail-Rodamco for €489 million last summer, which were placed in Castellana’s portfolio, as reported by Eje Prime.

Castellana Properties closed 2017 with revenues of €9.31 million, whilst it registered turnover of €5.15 million during the first three months of 2018. The net result for 2017 amounted to €18.61 million, and the firm earned €6.65 million during the first quarter of 2018. The group’s debt at the end of 2017 amounted to €146 million.

Original story: Eje Prime (By Jabier Izquierdo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Apollo Negotiates Purchase of 14 Offices in Madrid from Merlin

23 October 2018 – Expansión

Apollo is maintaining its interest in the Spanish real estate sector and is considering increasing its footprint in the capital with the purchase of an office portfolio from Merlin. Specifically, the US investment fund is analysing the acquisition of a portfolio comprising 14 office buildings and business complexes located, for the most part, in secondary business areas of Madrid, according to market sources speaking to Expansión.

When consulted on the matter, both Merlin and Apollo declined to comment about the operation.

The offices, which together span a gross leasable area of 126,900 m2, were worth more than €300 million at the end of June 2018. The buildings are located in well-known business districts of Madrid, such as Sanchinarro, Manoteras, Arturo Soria and Avenida de la Ilustración, amongst others. Merlin inherited most of the assets following the integration of Metrovacesa’s real estate business, after the merger of the two groups in 2016.

The assets that Apollo is considering buying include the office building located at number 94 Calle Santiago de Compostela, next to Avenida de la Ilustración, which has a surface area of 13,130 m2; the Euronova business park in Tres Cantos, which has a surface area of 32,663 m2; a property located on Travesía de Costa Brava, in Mirasierra, measuring more than 16,000 m2 and leased to El Corte Inglés; and an office complex comprising two buildings on Calle Francisca Delgado, in Alcobendas, with a combined surface area of 10,896 m2.

Interest

If this operation goes ahead, Apollo, which has put Altamira up for sale, would be committed to Spain again. The investment fund, which made its debut in the country through the European Principal Finance Fund II – the vehicle that acquired 85% of Altamira at the beginning of 2014 and Evo Banco soon after – recently launched the third version of that European fund.

Specifically, as Expansión revealed on 8 October, Apollo has launched the European Principal Finance Fund III, containing almost $5 billion (€4.35 billion based on the current exchange rate). Some of that amount will be allocated to Spain (…).

Original story: Expansión (by R. Arroyo & D. Badía)

Translation: Carmel Drake

S&P Increases Colonial’s Credit Rating to BBB+

18 October 2018 – Expansión

Standard & Poor’s has increased the rating assigned to Colonial from BBB to BBB+ within the investment grade category.

The credit agency has ruled out possible revisions of that rating by assigning a stable outlook for the company.

Colonial managed to increase its rating after reaching an agreement with Qatar, whereby the sovereign fund of that country became the company’s largest shareholder by acquiring 20% of its share capital through an exchange of shares.

By virtue of that operation, the Spanish Socimi consolidated its controlling position in its French subsidiary Société Foncière Lyonnaise (SFL), given that Qatar granted it the 22% stake that it owned in that company, allowing it to increase its share of the capital to 80%, in exchange for shares in the Spanish real estate company proceeding from a non-monetary capital increase.

S&P also reviewed Colonial’s rating upward after the Socimi completed the merger of another Socimi Axiare and closed the sale of a portfolio of offices owned by that company which did not fit with its business strategy.

Original story: Expansión 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Brussels Approves the Sale of CaixaBank’s RE Arm to Lone Star

11 October 2018 – La Vanguardia

Today, the European Commission (EC) has given the green light for CaixaBank to sell 80% of its real estate business to the US fund Lone Star after verifying that it will not harm competition due to its “limited impact on the market structure”.

The EU Executive reported its approval of the operation, which was announced by CaixaBank on 28 June and which will involve the sale to Lone Star of a portfolio comprising the real estate assets available for sale as at 31 October 2017 and the real estate company Servihabitat.

The package is worth around €7 billion in its entirety.

CaixaBank is planning to close the sale at the end of this year or the beginning of next year and estimates that it will result in cost savings of €550 million over the next three years, between 2019 and 2021.

Moreover, it will allow it to clean up its balance sheet of foreclosed assets proceeding from the crisis and improve its returns, according to the bank.

The Competition Department of the European Commission analysed the operation using the simplified procedure for reviewing mergers, which is used for those deals that, a priori, will generate the fewest problems.

Original story: La Vanguardia

Translation: Carmel Drake