Santander Transfers Land Worth €4bn to a Newly Created Land Manager

18 March 2019 – Cinco Días

Santander is making history once again. The entity has created a company to which it is going to transfer all of the land proceeding from its exposure to property, which has a gross book value of around €4 billion (and a net value of around €2 billion).

The purpose of this new vehicle, known as Landmark Iberia, will be to advance with the urban planning procedures required to generate value from these plots and to continue selling the land, with the ultimate goal of selling the whole company if an attractive offer is received.

Landmark is not like any of the bank’s previous projects given that it is not a servicer. Its job is to generate value from the plots that it receives from Santander – it is the first entity of its kind in Spain.

The operation forms part of the group’s overall strategy to reduce its exposure to real estate, in accordance with the instructions of the Bank of Spain. Last year, Santander decreased the value of its exposure by 55.9% in gross terms to €15.1 billion, according to the entity’s annual accounts, thanks to its operations with Blackstone (project Quasar) and Cerberus.

Landmark will likely become the largest landowner in the country, alongside other major companies in the sector such as the property developer Metrovacesa and the fund Cerberus.

Original story: Cinco Días 

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Madrid-Based Socimi Única Finalises its MAB Debut with c. 30 Commercial Premises

14 June 2018 – Eje Prime

Única Real-Estate is one step closer to its stock market debut. The Socimi is finalising the procedures to start trading on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB) this month. The company owns 29 commercial premises in the Community of Madrid (25 in Madrid capital and four in other municipalities) with a combined net book value of €32.5 million and an annualised gross rental income of more than €1.9 million.

The Socimi is committed to diversifying its portfolio to ensure that no single asset exceeds 15% of the total portfolio, and for a moderate financial leverage equivalent to less than 40% of the market value of the combined investment.

Única, which defines itself as a long-term investor, was created in 2015 and financed its previous growth through capital increases. In September 2017, the real estate firm became a Socimi. The President of Única is Eduardo Paraja, who used to be the CEO of Metrovacesa and an external advisor to Habitat.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Blackstone to List New Socimi with 4,000 Rental Homes Purchased from Sabadell

29 May 2018 – El Confidencial

One of the first funds to bet on the boom in rental housing in Spain, Blackstone, is on the verge of listing its fourth Socimi to specialise in this market, an area that is really blossoming.

The Socimi in question is Torbel Investments, a vehicle that primarily comprises the so-called Project Empire, a portfolio containing almost 4,000 homes, parking spaces, premises and storerooms that Banco Sabadell sold to the US fund two years ago.

At the time, the operation was worth around €600 million, although in net book value terms, Blackstone has recorded the assets at €113 million, according to Torbel’s most recent official accounts, corresponding to the year ending 2016.

Currently, the fund is on the home stretch of the procedures necessary with the CNMV – Spain’s National Securities and Markets Commission – to list the vehicle, whose natural destination is the MAB – Alternative Investment Market – given that Blackstone’s objective is, simply, to fulfil the demands of the Socimi regime to list the company so that it can benefit from the tax advantages.

That point means that this placement is completely different from the one being finalised by Testa, another giant in the rental housing sector in Spain, which is expected to make its debut on the main stock market in June, with €1.834 billion in assets.

Plethora of Socimis

Since it acquired these homes from Sabadell, Blackstone has managed all of the flats through its own servicer company, Anticipa, the firm that is behind the day to day operations of all of the large residential acquisitions carried out by the fund.

By geographical distribution, both in terms of property value and rental income, the main markets in which the Socimi has a presence are Madrid, Alicante, Murcia and Valencia, in other words, regions where the former entity CAM – Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo – had its greatest presence before it was acquired by Sabadell and whose foreclosed assets comprise this portfolio.

Blackstone is competing head to head with Testa to be the largest landlord in Spain, but it is adopting a very different strategy given that whilst the firm in which Santander, BBVA, Acciona and Merlin all hold stakes is opting to concentrate the greatest number of homes possible in a single company, the US fund is playing its hand by backing several smaller vehicles.

For the time being, Blackstone has already listed Fidere, which owns more than 5,700 homes, many of which have some kind of public protection;  it also has Albirana Properties, owner of another 5,000 rental assets; and Corona Patrimonial. But, in addition, the fund has been creating other Socimis such as Tourmalet and Pegarena.

All of these companies are expected to continue expanding their portfolios with assets from Project Quasar, the portfolio that Blackstone acquired from Santander, and which contains a sizeable portfolio of homes from the former Banco Popular.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Popular To Put 15,000 More Properties Up For Sale

16 July 2015 – Expansión

Popular is strengthening its strategy to achieve one of the main objectives it has set itself for the coming years, namely to accelerate the divestment of its non-productive assets. This mainly relates to its real estate portfolio, which includes €15,000 million of problem loans to developers, SMEs and individual borrowers, and a further €14,600 million of foreclosed assets.

One of the initiatives that the bank has set for 2015 is to increase the number of finished properties available for immediate sale through its web channel, by 15,000. It is looking to boost its web channel and thinks that it has great potential. This increase of 15,000 assets represents an increase of almost 50% to the portfolio that the bank currently has available for sale (taking the total to around 30,000 properties).


Currently, Popular sells 73% of its assets through its network of branches, another 21% through commercial agents and only 6% online. In the rest of the sector, digital channels account for 50% of such sales.

The entity, in turn, is accelerating the sale of large portfolios to wholesale investors. In the last two quarters, Popular has closed four such transactions amounting to €333 million, with a 9% discount on the net book value. These operations have included various assets, from residential land to commercial properties and garages.

As a result, the bank has doubled its volume of property sales in the last year. During the first quarter, Popular closed divestments amounting to €534 million, compared with €249 million recorded between January and March 2014, an increase of 115%. In this way and in just one quarter, Popular sold assets with a value very similar to the total amount sold in the whole of 2013, when sales amounted to around €700 million.

Popular’s strategy to dispose of its problem assets has been boosted in the last year and a half, following the partnership agreed in 2013 with the funds Värde Partners and Kennedy Wilson. That transaction, structured through the joint venture known as Aliseda, is not only generating capital to strengthen the bank’s balance sheet, but is also seeking to take advantage of the funds’ extensive experience in this business to accelerate the sale of assets, reduce the length of the recovery process and maximise divestment prices. Kennedy Wilson and Värde Partners, which control 51% of Aliseda, have almost €25,000 million in assets under management. (…)

Original story: Expansión (by M. Martínez)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Ibercaja Has 3 Portfolios Up For Sale With Assets Of €2,300M

14 July 2015 – Cinco Días

The Aragonese entity is currently managing three separate divestments

Ibercaja wants to clean up its balance sheet and diversify its business before it goes public at the end of 2016. The entity currently has real estate assets worth €2,300 million up for sale under three separate transactions. Ibercaja wants to retain its independence by listing on the stock exchange. The deadline for the presentation of non-binding offers for the portfolio known as Project Kite is this week.

Ibercaja has its mind made up. It does not want to participate in any mergers and is even less willing to be absorbed by another, larger entity. “A few years ago, they tried to include us in mergers through the SIP, but we were not at all convinced. We wanted to retain our independence and that is still our plan”, say sources at the bank when asked about a possible merger with the other medium-sized banks (such as Unicaja, BMN, Ibercaja, Kutxabank, Abanca, Liberbank, Cajamar and Bankinter). The entity chaired by Amado Franco plans to go public at the end of 2016, and it has already engaged KPMG to conduct the relevant studies with that objective in mind. The decision to go public is closely linked to the “Law on Banking Foundations”, which forces the former savings banks to go public if they do not want to be penalised with a reserve fund because their foundations control more than 50% of their capital. The ECB is also putting pressure on these entities to list and or/merge.

One of the main objectives of Ibercaja’s strategic plan for 2015-2017 is the divestment of unprofitable assets. A few days ago, it sold a portfolio of non-performing loans amounting to €200 million, for which it pocketed just over €10 million. Now it has out Project Goya on the market, with assets amounting to around €900 million, in the form of debt to property developers, secured by homes, according to reports from Idealista.

This transaction comes just a few weeks after the entity put Project Kite on the market, which includes mortgage loans from 124 property developers, amounting to around €800 million. In fact, this week sees the deadline for interested investors to submit their non-binding offers. Moreover, during the first six months of the year, the entity sold 1,971 properties through its real estate platform, Salduvia.

Those sales were generated in a homogeneous way across the whole country. The figure represented a 12% increase on the sales recorded a year earlier and represented the divestment of 25% of the stock that the entity had for sale. These transactions have been closed with an overall discount of 4% on the appraisal value of the assets and have generated a positive result on the net book value of €6 million. Salduvia’s sales forecasts for this year stand at 4,300 homes, i.e. 75% of the stock that is currently available for sale and an increase of 20% on the sales recorded in 2014, which amounted to 3,558 units. That sales figure would represent a reduction in real estate risk of €650 million.

Original story: Cinco Días (by Ángeles Gonzalo Alconada)

Translation: Carmel Drake