Project Castillo: Blackstone Puts 11,000 of Catalunya Banc’s Subprime Mortgages Up for Sale

13 June 2019 – El Confidencial

Blackstone has engaged Bank of America to liquidate almost all of the remaining Catalunya Banc subprime mortgages that it purchased from the State between 2014 and 2015 as part of Project Hércules.

After almost five years of actively managing the portfolio, the US fund now has just 31,000 of the more than 100,000 subprime mortgages that it purchased, which are worth €1 billion compared with €5.7 billion in 2015.

Project Castillo is going to contain almost 11,000 of those mortgages, all of which are up to date in terms of payments, but which have been refinanced at some point over the last 5 years.

This sale forms part of a series being undertaken by Blackstone as it completes its first cycle of investments in Spain. In this context, the US fund’s rental home Socimi Fidere put most of its assets up for sale recently.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Project Makalu: Sabadell Puts €2.5bn Portfolio Up For Sale

21 March 2018 – Vozpópuli

Banco Sabadell is stepping on the accelerator to complete its balance sheet clean up as soon as possible. After months of negotiations with the Deposit Guarantee Fund (FGD), the Catalan entity has decided to place on the market its first large portfolio proceeding from CAM’s Asset Protection Scheme (EPA). In this way, it has distributed information to investors about Project Makalu, comprising €2.5 billion in assets from the former Alicante-based savings bank, according to financial sources consulted by Vozpópuli.

This operation comprises foreclosed assets and unpaid loans from companies and individuals covered by the EPA. It follows another portfolio that has been on the market for a few days, Project Galerna, comprising €900 million in non-performing loans.

KPMG is advising Sabadell on both operations, which together comprise assets and loans worth €3.4 billion.

The group chaired by Josep Oliu has been negotiating with the FGD for months to try to kick-start these operations. The aim is that they will be followed by two more portfolios taking the total value of the assets for sale to €12 billion and whereby reset the entity’s real estate calculator. The issue is not simple because the sale of these loans may generate a hole for the Fund that would impact the State deficit.

Strategic plan

The Catalan entity announced at the recent launch of its strategic plan in London that it maintains the objective of reducing its exposure to problem assets at a rate of €2 billion per year. With the sale of Project Makalu alone it would more than exceed that goal.

The bank held €15.2 billion in problem assets at the end of 2017, but the forecasts indicate that that figure will fall below €9 billion by 2020: €4 billion in doubtful loans and €5 billion in foreclosed assets. And that is without taking into account the divestments that are now being worked on with the FGD.

Project Makalu is the fourth largest portfolio of problem assets ever to be put up for sale by a Spanish bank, behind only Popular’s Project Quasar, amounting to €30 billion, purchased by Blackstone; BBVA’s Project Marina, amounting to €13 billion, acquired by Cerberus; and Project Hercules, amounting to €6.4 billion in mortgages from Catalunya Banc, which was bought by Blackstone.

Meanwhile, Project Galerna is similar to Project Gregal, which Sabadell sold less than a year ago to three funds: Grove, D. E. Shaw and Lindorff. That portfolio comprised loans linked to consumers, without real estate guarantees, which had already been fully written off, and so all of the proceeds from the sale were recorded directly as gains.

Precedents

Besides Gregal, Sabadell closed two other major operations last year: Normandy, comprising €950 million in property developer loans, which was acquired by Oaktree, and which also proceeded from CAM’s EPA; and Voyager, comprising €800 million, which was purchased by the largest pension fund in Canada.

The latest operation launched by Sabadell joins others recently placed on the market by Sareb, BBVA, Cajamar and Kutxabank.

Original story: Vozpópuli (by Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Popular Puts €1,500M Macro RE Portfolio Up For Sale

6 June 2017 – Voz Pópuli

(…). The entity chaired by Emilio Saracho (pictured above) has launched an express plan to sell its problem assets and one of the key elements is the sale of the largest real estate portfolio to come onto the market in Spain since 2015. The portfolio of properties has been designed by KPMG, and has an initial value of between €1,500 million and €2,000 million, according to financial sources consulted by Vozpópuli. This is part of the plan that the entity is presenting to the ECB today to regain the confidence of the regulators. (…).

In addition, Saracho has spent the last few days meeting with investment banks to see how to accelerate the unblocking of Popular’s problem assets. (…).

The sale of problem assets is critical for Banco Popular regardless of its future. The heavy weight of those assets (worth €37,000 million) is the source of this entity’s problems, which have been further compounded in recent months by its capital and liquidity troubles and the risk of claims. (…).

For this reason, Banco Popular needs to accelerate the sale of the €36,800 million that it owns in toxic assets as soon as possible. Above all, it needs to focus on its foreclosed assets, which have the lowest level of coverage (38.5%) and which most concern the market and potential buyers. To bring the provisioning level of its properties in line with the levels adopted by BBVA and Santander, Popular would need to recognise (additional provisions of) around €1,500 million to €2,000 million.

Under the spotlight

With the sale of portfolios such as the one being advised by KPMG, Banco Popular would reduce some of its problems. Even so, financial sources doubt that the short term future of the entity is going to be determined by operations such as this one (…). Rather, they add, that this is a way of getting ahead with the work, regardless of the solution.

In this sense, the banks that are considering submitting a bid for Banco Popular have been making contact with opportunistic funds and investment banks over the last few weeks to work out how to share out the Spanish entity: the good bank could go to Santander, BBVA and Bankia, and the problem assets could go to overseas investors.

The key to accelerating the unblocking of the real estate assets is the prices that Banco Popular can accept on the basis of its provisions. Currently, the foreclosed assets are recognised on the balance sheet at 60% of their initial values, well above the values demanded by the opportunistic funds, which are closer to 30-40% of their initial values (…).

The portfolio that Popular is preparing represents one of the largest currently up for sale in Europe and the fourth largest to go on the market in Spain ever, after: Project Hércules, involving €6,400 million in problematic mortgages from Catalunya Banc, which was acquired by Blackstone; Project Octopus, containing €4,500 million in Eurohypo loans, which were purchased by Lone Star and JPMorgan; and Project Big Bang, which saw Bankia put most of its foreclosed assets up for sale, in a deal that it negotiated to the end with Cerberus, but which failed to close.

The two main favourites to acquire this latest portfolio are Blackstone and Apollo, the two funds that have been buying Popular’s other portfolios to date, albeit smaller ones, averaging around €400 million to €500 million. The entity currently has another process underway, involving a €500 million portfolio, which is being coordinated by Irea, and in which the following entities are competing: Oaktree, Apollo, Bank of America and Bain Capital.

Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Anticipa Wants To Become Spain’s Largest Rental Home Manager

3 April 2017 – El Economista

Anticipa, the real estate subsidiary of the US fund Blackstone, wants to become one of the largest rental home managers in Spain. To achieve its objective, the company plans to consolidate its assets in different Socimis, which will be listed on the MAB, according to comments made to elEconomista by sources close to the fund.

Anticipa is the former real estate platform of Catalunya Caixa, which was acquired by Blackstone in 2014. That same year, the fund signed the purchase of its first major mortgage portfolio from the same entity. Known at the time as Project Hércules, the operation involved the transfer of 40,000 problem loans, for which Blackstone paid €3,615 million.

Since the acquisition was closed definitively, in April 2015, Anticipa has been in charge of managing these assets along with those from another six portfolios, which have a combined value of €7,000 million.

According to the same sources, Blackstone’s objective is to continue acquiring portfolios to reach 17,000 rental homes by the end of this year, which would make its subsidiary one of the largest residential managers in the country.

Anticipa already has 12,000 homes up for rent or in the process of being put up for rent in the short term and has placed a package of 5,000 units on the market through the Socimi Albirana, which debuted on the stock market last week. Those assets, located mainly Barcelona and Madrid, were inherited from Project Hércules.

In order to continue implementing its strategy, the fund is already working on the launch of a new Socimi, given that it considers that to be the most efficient way of structuring its portfolio. Socimis have a special tax regime in Spain and pay Corporation Tax at zero percent. In addition to Albirana, Blackstone registered two other Socimis last year, under the names Pegarena and Tourmalet.

Led by Eduardo Mendiluce Fradera, Anticipa has been in charge of managing the enormous portfolio of loans to individual borrowers, on a case by case basis, which it inherited from Catalunya Caixa.

To handle this task, the firm, which already had extensive experience in the real estate sector, expanded its workforce to incorporate more financial profiles, growing the team to include 330 professionals.

The 40,000 mortgages that Blackstone purchased in 2014 include loans with varying degrees of delinquency, from up to date to NPLs. Of the total, 3% have involved social housing cases, but none have ended in eviction.

Since Anticipa began managing this portfolio two years ago, it has managed to reach 10,000 agreements, of which the majority are “daciones en pago” and the remainder are debt restructurings.

Having freed up the asset, the firm’s objective is to allocate around 70-75% of its homes to rent, and to sell the rest – generally, it will sell those homes that are located in places where there is no demand for rental properties. (…).

Original story: El Economista (by Alba Brualla)

Translation: Carmel Drake