Santander & Blackstone Launch Spain’s Largest Financing Deal Since the Crisis: €7bn

2 January 2018 – El Confidencial

The largest real estate operation in Europe is going to also bring with it the largest financing deal the sector has seen in recent times. The sale of €30 billion in Banco Popular assets that Banco Santander agreed with Blackstone last summer is going to mark another milestone in January when the two partners plan to close a mega-loan amounting to €7 billion.

This debt will be assumed by the joint venture created ad hoc to buy the portfolio of assets. It promises to be backed not only by Spanish entities but also by large international investment banks and funds that invest in debt, some of which may include entities owned by Blackstone. According to sources familiar with the operation, the net value of the assets amounts to around €10 billion.

To finance that property portfolio, the liability structure of the new company (the assets and liabilities of which will be equal by definition) will consist of 30% capital and 70% debt. Given that Blackstone is going to control 51% of the share capital and Santander 49%, each shareholder will have to contribute around €1.5 billion to the vehicle (the former will have to contribute slightly more given its slightly larger stake), whilst the remainder of the joint venture’s balance sheet will comprise the aforementioned €7 billion in debt that is expected to be signed this month.

The fact that the joint venture is going to have such a high percentage of debt allows the return on capital to increase: the lower that is, the greater the return with the same profits. That is what is called leverage and it is normal for it to be even higher in vehicles of this kind. By way of example, Sareb (the semi-public bad bank that absorbed the properties of the rescued savings banks) comprises 90% debt and just 10% capital.

Santander deconsolidates Popular’s real estate

After increasing the provisions against this portfolio to 63% in the case of foreclosed assets and to 75% in the case of the loans, the net valuation of all of the toxic real estate that the new company will own amounts to €9.7 billion. To that figure, we have to add the final valuation of Aliseda, the former real estate manager of Banco Popular, which also formed part of the operation. Almost half of the assets sold are land (€12.6 billion gross), followed by residential (€8 billion), retail (€2.1 billion), industrial warehouses (€1.5 billion) and hotels (€0.8 billion), as well as €4.9 billion split between offices, garages and other types of real estate assets.

This company was created because Santander wanted to remove (deconsolidate) Popular’s real estate from its balance sheet after it purchased the entity in June. It could have sold it in its entirety, but it chose to create a vehicle in which the majority was held by another shareholder – Blackstone, which fought off Lone Star and Apollo to win the auction and pay €5.1 billion – and retain a 49% stake. In this way, it will be able to obtain additional profits if the recovery continues in the real estate market and the company sells the assets for more than their current value. For the time being, it will have to inject the aforementioned share capital, amounting to €1.5 billion.

Although the small print of the conditions associated with this financing still needs to be confirmed, the deal underlines the growing business that is currently being seen in terms of real estate loans and debt funds. In the last month alone, Metrovacesa has closed a loan for €275 million and Testa has raised €800 million with the bonus of not having to mortgage any of its buildings.

Original story: El Confidencial (by E. Segovia & R. Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Neinor Buys 7 Plots Of Buildable Land In El Cañaveral (Madrid)

27 December 2016 – El Confidencial

Developments in the south-east of Madrid have come under the spotlight of Neinor, one of the largest property developers in Spain, which has just marked a turning point with the purchase of several plots of buildable land in El Cañaveral, the most advanced neighbourhood in the capital’s ambitious expansion project.

The company led by Juan Velayos has acquired seven plots of land, with a combined buildable area of 47,000 m2, where it plans to start to build almost 500 homes, according to sources familiar with the transaction. The company itself has declined to make any comments.

Specifically, Neinor wants to construct 24 detached homes and 459 multi-family homes, plans which would lead to the definitive launch of El Cañaveral, where 14,000 homes are expected to be created in total, to house a population of around 50,000 people.

Nevertheless, Velayos’ plans for this development go much further, given that it is one of the few areas in Madrid where it is possible to buy buildable land, in other words, land that is ready to be developed.

According to the same sources, the company is holding advanced conversations to acquire four other plots, whose buildability exceeds 11,300 m2 and where it hopes to build another 95 homes.

Appetite for growth

Since its re-launch just over a year ago, Neinor has shown a strong appetite for growth, and to achieve that objective, it is actively searching for blocks of buildable land where it will be able to start to build new homes quickly.

In fact, the road map that the company announced at the end of 2015 aims to develop around 3,000 homes per year and to establish a permanent bank of land to enable it to build 10,000 homes. (…).

In addition to these ambitious business plans, another major corporate challenge promises to mark Neinor’s future in 2017, namely, its debut on the stock market. It is already working on the IPO and the size of the company will play an important role in its success.

The current firm Neinor was created by Lone Star, one of the international funds that was most committed to Spain during the worst years of the crisis, from the foundations of Kutxabank’s former real estate group.

This company, named Neinor by the Basque entity, was created in 2012 from the sum of the different real estate activities of the Basque former savings banks – BBK, Vital and Kutxa – and the Andalucían entity Cajasur.

Lone Star bought the property developer at the end of 2014 for €930 million, in an operation that represented a real milestone for the real estate sector, which was still licking its wounds, given that it represented the largest transaction by a company in the sector since the outbreak of the crisis.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake