18 May 2017 – Cinco Días
The fund Blackstone is the largest property owner in the world and has been backing real estate Spain for a while now. And, it is going to continue to do so in the short to medium term. For the time being, the fund’s plans involve becoming a giant in the rental housing segment and it is already starting to show its investment strategy through several companies, including three new Socimis.
Blackstone’s first major step was to create the servicer Anticipa Real Estate, under the structure of the former entity Cataluña Caixa Inmobiliaria. This asset management platform purchased 40,000 mortgages from the extinct Catalan entity for €4,123 million in 2015. Since then, it has continued acquiring these kinds of mortgage portfolios, to accumulate a total investment to date of almost €7,000 million.
The latest acquisitions made by Blackstone – which is headquartered in New York – have included a €400 million portfolio of loans backed by property developer collateral and another portfolio from BBVA comprising 3,500 properties, for around €300 million.
This entire portfolio of mortgage debt and properties is managed by Anticipa, a company that is led by its CEO, Eduard Mendiluce, a veteran director in the sector. (…).
The work that the servicer performs for Blackstone involves managing the loans granted by banks to individuals and property developers. In many cases, that task ends with the “dación en pago” or foreclosure of the property or development, due to non-payment. The company says that it treats each client on a case by case basis, and the process often means it has to accept a discount on the debt.
Of the portfolios acquired from banks, “daciones en pago” and foreclosures, Anticipa already owns 12,000 properties, which are leased out (in around 75% of cases) and put up for sale. “The idea is for it to become one of the large owners of rental housing in Spain”, explains a spokesperson.
The opportunistic fund – which purchases problem assets at a discount – is planning to remain in the Spanish market beyond the short term, and has absolutely no interest in selling its businesses within the next 5-7 years, but rather intends to benefit from the upwards trend in property.
To create the residential giant, the US firm has started to create vehicles to which it will transfer properties for rent. The first of these companies is Albirana Properties, a Socimi that started to trade on the Alternative Investment Market in March. That listed investment company, which benefits from certain tax advantages, already manages 5,000 homes.
But it is only the first to be listed. Other Socimis, namely Pegarena and Tourmalet, which have already been constituted and are already owned by several Blackstone funds, will follow. These firms, in turn, operate using Anticipa as their manager. (…).
Packaging up these homes into different companies will facilitate the sale of those companies in the future to various interested parties.
Blackstone decided to back the rental sector rather than the sales market at a time of change in the type of demand, according to experts in the sector. In particular, the generation of millennials, for cultural reasons – are more inclined to live without the tie of a mortgage – and, above all, the difficulties being faced by young people to obtain loans given the job insecurity.
Unlike other Socimis that specialise in rental housing, the management of assets by Albirana is more complex, given that its properties are relatively scattered geographically, as they proceed from individual mortgages. Typically these companies opt to manage entire buildings, but Blackstone’s company has specialised in what is known as granular management.
Currently, the majority of these properties are located in Cataluña. They are followed – at some distance – by homes in Madrid, Comunidad Valenciana and Andalucía.
Original story: Cinco Días (by Alfonso Simón Ruiz)
Translation: Carmel Drake