Project Olympia: CaixaBank Puts €800M Portfolio of Doubtful SME Loans Up for Sale

23 October 2018 – Voz Pópuli

CaixaBank is pushing ahead with its objective to clean up its toxic property. The Catalan entity is holding negotiations with large international funds to sell the largest portfolio of doubtful SME loans to go on the market to date, amounting to €800 million, according to financial sources consulted by Voz Pópuli.

The deal in question is Project Olympia, which CaixaBank wants to close before the end of the year. It includes loans with real estate guarantees granted to small and medium-sized entities.

This operation joins another that the group led by Gonzalo Gortázar has underway and which is in a more advanced phase, Project Orion, comprising €600 million also in doubtful loans to SMEs with real estate guarantees.

In total, CaixaBank wants to clean up almost €1.5 billion before the end of the year and whereby complete the macro-operation signed with Lone Star to sell almost all of its foreclosed assets for €7 billion. After transferring the homes and land, the only assets left to sell are the problem loans, which is exactly what the entity is doing with Olympia and Orion.

Candidates

Unlike with the sale of the foreclosed assets, the favourites to buy the Olympia portfolio are not large fortunes such as Blackstone, Cerberus, Lone Star and Apollo. In this case, intermediate funds are looking at the operation, such as Axactor, Bain Capital, Intrum and D. E. Shaw. The large funds are saving themselves for other operations underway and to close those already signed during the year.

In the case of Olympia, experts in the market calculate that CaixaBank could obtain around €250 million for this package of loans, whilst the price of Orion could amount to €200 million.

With all of these operations, the Catalan entity is expected to end up with a net exposure (after provisions) to real estate of around €10 billion, down from €20.2 billion at the end of last year.

Beyond the pressure from the ECB to follow this path, the strategy is key for the bank this year due to the closure of its current strategic plan. The lower its exposure to property, the greater the profitability of the entities, which is critical in the current environment.

Original story: Voz Pópuli (Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake

BBVA Reduces the Property Portfolio that it will Transfer to Cerberus by 12%

17 May 2018 – Expansión

BBVA is not holding back in its strategy to reduce its exposure to the real estate sector ahead of putting the finishing touches to its agreement with Cerberus. The entity has already cleaned up some of the portfolio that it will transfer to the US fund in September.

Between the reference date for the operation – the end of June 2017, and March this year, the date of the most recent audited accounts -, the bank has decreased its foreclosed assets by 12% – those assets proceed from unpaid residential and property developer mortgages.

The bank is going to create a joint venture with the US fund to reduce its real estate exposure in Spain to almost zero. BBVA will sell 80% of that joint venture to Cerberus for an estimated price of €4 billion. But that amount may vary, depending on the volume of foreclosed assets that end up being transferred.

Initially, a portfolio with a gross asset value of around €13 billion was defined. By March, the entity’s foreclosed assets balance had decreased to a gross value of €11.541 billion. Most of the portfolio comprises finished buildings and land, which are easier to sell now thanks to the recovery of the real estate sector.

To cover its gross risk, BBVA has recognised provisions amounting to €7.073 billion, which reduces its net exposure to €4.468 billion. The coverage ratio of the foreclosed assets amounts to 61%.

Sources at BBVA explain that the portfolio that is going to be transferred to Cerberus also includes the ‘other real estate assets’ caption. The bank’s gross real estate exposure, including both concepts, amounted to €12.472 billion in March compared with €14.318 billion in June 2017.

Until the close of the operation, which is scheduled for September, the assets to be transferred to the joint venture will not be finalised. “Under no circumstances will transferring fewer assets result in a loss to the income statement. In fact, this operation is not expected to have a significant impact on the income statement”, explain official sources at the entity.

Solvency

The agreement with Cerberus will improve BBVA’s solvency. In March, the bank saw its core capital fully loaded ratio worsen to 10.9%. But the transfer of the real estate portfolio to the fund and the sale of its business in Chile will improve that metric to 11.5%.

BBVA has loaned Cerberus €800 million to finance part of its purchase of the real estate portfolio from the bank. The loan has a term of two years and will not accrue any interest. The fund will repay the debt in a single payment on the maturity date.

Spain’s financial institutions have stepped on the accelerator to clean up property from their balance sheets following Santander’s macro-operation to deconsolidate real estate risk amounting to around €30 billion proceeding from Popular (…).

Original story: Expansión (by R. Sampedro)

Translation: Carmel Drake