Cajamar Sells 2 Problem Loan Portfolios

23 December 2017 – La Voz de Almería

Grupo Cooperativo Cajamar is continuing with the gradual reduction of its non-performing asset balance thanks to its strong performance in terms of the commercial management of its foreclosed assets and a reduction in its default rate.

In recent weeks, the entity has completed the sale of two portfolios, one containing foreclosed assets and the other containing non-performing loans, bringing the volume of problem assets sold so far this year to €791 million.

In this way, with the ordinary management of recoveries, boosted by the sale of these portfolios, Grupo Cooperativo Cajamar expects to close 2017 with a non-performing loan balance of less than €3.4 billion and a default rate of less than 11%.

Asset sales

Based on data as at 15 December, the rural Almería savings bank has sold more than 4,100 real estate assets for more than €600 million in terms of their gross book value, which represents an increase in sales of 55%.

Meanwhile, its non-performing loan balance, which amounted to €4.211 billion at the end of last year, had decreased to €3.964 billion as at September.

Interest in the market

The operations that have accumulated the largest volumes have been the sale of the Escullos portfolio, containing 1,456 loans worth around €176 million, sold to CarVal Investors and the combined organisation of Lindorff and Intrum Justitia; and the Tango portfolio, comprising around 400 assets, worth more than €57 million, which was sold to the US fund Waterfall.

Both operations were carried out through competitive processes and sparked a great deal of interest in the market. They received financial advice from Alantra.

The first portfolio of non-performing loans to companies and SMEs, most of which were secured, was mainly concentrated in the Community of Valencia (48.9%) and Andalucía (25.8%), although it also contained assets in Murcia, the Canary Islands, Cataluña, Castilla (La Mancha) and Madrid. The second comprised residential properties, although it also contained commercial and industrial assets, most of which were located in Andalucía, Murcia and Valencia.

Cajamar will close a positive year in terms of divestment, with a YoY variation in terms of the number of assets sold of more than 62%. The final numbers will also reflect the results of the current promotional campaign “Now or never”, with a selection of 4,500 properties with discounts of up to 40% (…)

Original story: La Voz de Almería

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sareb Puts Spain’s Largest Ever NPL Portfolio Up For Sale

7 November 2017 – Voz Pópuli

Sareb wants to star in the largest sale to date of non-performing loans in Spain. The company chaired by Jaime Echegoyen has put a portfolio of unpaid loans worth €2,600 million up for sale, according to financial sources consulted by Vozpópuli. It hopes to sell the portfolio before the end of the year and since it contains NPLs that are recognised off-balance sheet, all of the consideration paid will correspond to profits.

This operation has been baptised as Project Dune and is being advised by KPMG. Until now, the largest sale of an unsecured non-performing loan portfolio was completed by BBVA in 2014, when it sold a portfolio worth €1,700 million to Deutsche Bank.

Non-performing loans are credits that have been written off by the banks, which remove them from their balance sheets after recognising 100% provisions against them. In the case of Sareb, they are what is known in the market as mortgage tails: essentially, they are loans that remained uncollected following the execution of a real estate loan. These loans are purchased by opportunistic funds at significant discounts, of between 95% and 97%, which try to recover the maximum amount by taking the debtors to court. Since they are fully provisioned, the entire amount that Sareb receives from this sale will be recognised as profits.

Project Dune actually comprises two sub-portfolios: Pilat, containing 2,261 unsecured non-performing loans to 1,500 small- and medium-sized property developers, worth €2,442 million; and Kirbus, containing 115 loans secured by real estate, with a combined nominal value of €176 million.

In this way, the second sub-portfolio has almost 1,000 properties as collateral, of which around half are apartments, located primarily in Barcelona, A Corñua and Madrid. Half of the Dune portfolio is located in Cataluña, the Community of Valencia and Aragón.

On the basis of the prices that tend to be paid in this market, Sareb could end up generating revenues/gross profits of between €125 million and €175 million from this sale, depending on the degree of interest that the portfolio sparks amongst the funds and the level of competition between them.

Project Dune is not the only deal that Sareb has underway since it also has other portfolios worth more than €1,000 million on the market. The largest process currently in progress is known as Project Inés, containing €400 million, whose purchase is being finalised by Deutsche Bank. The bad bank typically uses these types of operations towards the end of the year to balance its budget and generate higher revenues to allow it to pay off some of its debt.

This sale is being coordinated by the prestigious portfolio team at KPMG, led by Carlos Rubí. Most of the team came from PwC and joined the firm in 2014.

Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Liberbank Agrees To Sell €750M RE Portfolio To Bain

11 October 2017 – El Confidencial

Liberbank has agreed to sell a portfolio of foreclosed properties worth €750 million to the fund Bain Capital, after ruling out a rival offer from KKR. According to sources familiar with the situation, the transaction will be closed at a price of between 45% and 48% of the initial value (the final figure is the only matter that still needs to be agreed), in other words, with a discount of between 52% and 55% of the book value. That haircut is lower than the 66% that Santander had to apply to divest Popular’s property portfolio in the summer.

The aforementioned sources explain that, in the end, this portfolio does not include any non-performing loans, but rather contains foreclosed assets only. The sales price implies a higher discount than the net value (after provisions) at which Liberbank recognises these assets on its balance sheet (around 40%, albeit based on their appraisal value as at 2017), which means that the entity will have to recognise an additional loss as a result of this sale. But it will cover some of that loss with funds resulting from the €500 million capital increase that it approved on Monday and to which its main shareholders have already signed up.

The fact that Liberbank has had to offer a lower discount than Santander did for the sale of Popular’s assets is explained by three factors. Firstly, the size and urgency of the operation: the bank chaired by Ana Botín sold a much larger portfolio, amounting to €30,000 million, which it wanted to divest from its balance sheet as soon as possible, and whereby shield itself from the possible legal annulment of its purchase of Popular.

The second is that Santander sold only 51% of its portfolio, in other words, in that case, the bank will continue to receive income from the rental or sale of the assets in its remaining 49% stake. A better price can always be negotiated when the buyer acquires the rights to all of the revenues associated with a given portfolio. The third reason is that “not all of the assets are the same, and Popular’s portfolio contained a lot of poor quality properties”, according to one of the sources consulted. In other words, Liberbank’s portfolio contains better quality assets.

Ensuring survival on its own

(…). As El Confidencial has reported, both this real estate operation, as well as the capital increase, are consequences of demands made by the (Spanish) Government and the Bank of Spain to strengthen Liberbank’s solvency for fear of a repeat of a collapse like Popular’s (a fear that also led to the supervisor imposing a ban on the short selling of the entity’s shares, which still continues). In the face of interest from Abanca, Unicaja and CaixaBank to acquire Liberbank, the entity led by Manuel Menéndez decided to undertake these operations to ensure its survival as an independent player.

Moreover, the entity sold another €215 million in real estate assets unrelated to this portfolio during the third quarter. In that case, it sold the assets at their net book value, in other words, without the need to record any additional losses. In this way, Liberbank will easily exceed its objective of decreasing its property portfolio by €800 million this year, with most of the fourth quarter still remaining. In addition, during the same period, it decreased its non-performing loans by a further €230 million thanks to recoveries and foreclosures.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Eduardo Segovia)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Lindorff Finalises Purchase Of Aktua For €200M

2 March 2016 – Expansión

Project Pegasus / The Norwegian group is in exclusive negotiations to acquire the platform that manages homes and RE debt on behalf of BMN, Ibercaja and Santander.

Centerbridge and Lindorff are negotiating the details of one of the largest corporate transactions in Spain so far in 2016. The US fund has selected the Norwegian group as the main candidate to acquire the real estate platform Aktua, a former subsidiary of Banesto, whose asking price amounts to just over €200 million, according to several financial sources.

Aktua currently manages homes and real estate debt for Santander, BMN and Ibercaja. Aktua reached an agreement with the Aragonese group just over a month ago, which has somewhat delayed the sale of the management platform.

The sources consulted explained that the main terms of the agreement have now been established, but the fine print may take a few more days to finalise before signing.

In this way, Lindorff has beat off the other two finalists in the process, known as Project Pegasus: the US fund Apollo, the owner of Altamira; and the private equity firm Activum. The investment banks Bank of America and Barclays are acting as advisors to the operation.

The Norwegian group has been operating in Spain for eight years now, although to date, it has focused on the management of unsecured loans. Within this market, Lindorff acquired the collection subsidiaries of Santander, Banco Sabadell and BMN. The acquisition of Aktua will allow the firm to enter a new business segment with higher returns.

Aktua was founded in 2008 and currently employs 400 professionals working in 24 offices. Following the purchase of Gestión de Inmuebles Salduvia, from Ibercaja, it now manages more than 42,000 real estate assets, worth over €8,000 million. (…).

According to the latest available accounts, Aktua earned almost €5 million in 2014 and generated an EBITDA of €8.5 million. The forecasts from the advisors to the sale predict that the firm will generate EBITDA of between €40 million and €50 million in 2015.

According to data at the Commercial Registry, Centerbridge owns a 83% stake in Aktua’s capital, Santander owns 6% and the company’s managers own 11%. The latter group includes the CEO and former Director of Banesto, Enrique Dancausa. (…).

Original story: Expansión (by J. Zuloaga and D. Badía)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Fortress Is Preparing For Another ERE At Geslico

12 February 2015 – El Confidencial

Fortress, the alternative investment fund that bought the savings banks’ financing business, has announced to its employees that is it going to undertake a statutory redundancy procedure (un expediente de regulación de empleo or ERE) at Geslico, the subsidiary dedicated to loan recovery. Although the US entity has not quantified how many people will be affected by the drastic measure, sources close to the firm say that almost 40% of the workforce could be made redundant.

Geslico, the group formed by three subsidiaries with headquarters in Madrid, Valencia and Zaragoza, currently employs 450 people, of which around 200 could be made redundant as a result of the ERE. Although Fortress has not yet explained the real reasons for adopting this measure, sources close to the company explain the that job cuts are due to the loss of business resulting from the mergers of savings banks.

The announcement was made at Paratus, the business centre created by Fortress in Barcelona to manage all of the acquisitions the fund has made in Spain since it started to buy non-performing loans from financial institutions such as Banco Santander and debt from the real estate company Realia. Subsequently, between 2012 and 2013, Fortress acquired Lico Leasing, the holding company that provides financing to companies in the Spanish Confederation of Savings Banks (Confederación Española de Cajas de Ahorros or CECA), and Geslico, which it bought for almost €220 million.

Nevertheless, the name Fortress gained notoriety in Spain when the fund tried to sell 300 homes it had bought from Sareb, at a much higher price than the State’s bad bank had agreed to transfer them to a group of individuals.

These types of funds, known as opportunistic or vulture funds, have become the new owners of mountains of unpaid debt – estimated to amount to €50,000 million – which originated from the balance sheets of Spanish banks and was transferred for a price significantly below its face value. Subsequently, these funds manage the debts by trying to negotiate long-term payment plans with the borrowers to recover the initial amounts loaned.

The ERE at Geslico is not the first to be proposed by Fortress, which already significantly reduced Geslico’s workforce, at the end of 2013. At that time, Paratus informed its employees that 174 of the 470 strong workforce were going to be made redundant, with their contracts terminated. Another 40 were told that their employment contracts would be suspended temporarily (una suspensión temporal de empleo or ERTE), which was to result in 210 employees losing their jobs on a permanent or temporary basis. In the end, following internal negotiations, the list of redundancies was reduced to 120 people.

Prior to this, in 2012, the shareholders of Lico Corporation, which included BBVA, Banco Sabadell, Mapfre, Ibercaja, Unicaja, CECA, Novagalicia, CatalunyaCaixa and Bankia, amongst others, had already announced a redundancy procedure, which affected 95 of the 230 employees at the financing company.

In the most recent annual report filed by Fortress, the fund claimed that it had “confidence in the robust future of Geslico’s activity, due to its broad range of clients and the trend towards outsourcing debt recovery work”. Nevertheless, it warned in its forecast for 2014 that “annual recoveries may decline slightly with respect to 2013, as a result of the restructuring of the banking sector and the reduction in lending in recent years”. The reality has proven to be worse than expected and Geslico’s employees are paying the price.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Agustín Marco)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Big Banks Record Losses Of €3,600m, Hit By Real Estate

9 February 2015 – El Mundo

The Ibex-listed financial institutions have doubtful balances and a portfolio of foreclosed homes amounting to €120,000 million.

During 2014, they sold more than 20,000 properties for a combined value of €11,700 million.

It will take Spanish banks two more years to “digest” the property binge that they enjoyed during the years of economic boom. The annual accounts of the listed entities – with the exception of Bankia, which has not yet published its results – show that, despite the recovery in the banking sector, the real estate sector continues to be a heavy burden – it generated losses of more than €3,600 million in 2014.

The indicators show signs of optimism, including the decrease in the default rate – which currently stands at 12.75% for the sector as a whole – and the decrease in doubtful assets by more than €20,000 million over the last year. However, the banks recognise that their exposure to the real estate sector will continue to be a hindrance throughout 2015 and 2016 at least, two years during which the market is expected to absorb most of the foreclosed assets (amounting to €60,000 million) accumulated by Santander, BBVA, Caixabank, Bankia, Sabadell, Popular and Bankinter.

The gross credit exposure to developers of these seven entities (all of which are listed on the Ibex) amounted to €103,000 million at the end of last year, although it should be noted that the figure for Bankia relates to the third quarter 2014.

From this quantity, just over €61,000 million is classified as doubtful (i.e. a non-payment of some kind has been recocorded) or sub-standard (credits that are currently being paid, but which are expected to go into arrears). According to the entities, this figure is lower than last year, due to the refinancings, recoveries and maturities that have taken place over the last year. But it is still a volume that requires a significant provision balance to cover the potential losses. Overall, the seven banks analysed recorded a total coverage against doubtful debts of €38,900 million at the end of 2014.

Last year was the first year in which the entities significantly reduced their provision coverage, following five years of crisis. “The results from the real estate sector clearly show the less negative impact that has resulted from the clean up of loans to developers and foreclosed real estate assets” says BBVA, a bank that recorded losses of €876 million in this area. Despite the size of the figure, it is 30% smaller than the €1,252 million losses recorded by the entity a year earlier.

Caixabank is the entity whose results have been hardest hit by the activity in the real estate sector. On 30 January, its CEO, Gonzalo Cortázar, predicted that the housing burden would have an impact on its financial results in 2015 and 2016 that this impact would “still be significant, although the digestion will be prolonged on a decreasing scale.

Santander has managed to reduce its loans to developers by 34% in the last year and has increased its coverage to 54%, but its annual results are still negative, with the entity led by Ana Botín recording a loss of €583 million.

Sabadell’s losses were even greater – €999 million and it has a gross exposure to the real estate market of €26,958 million, the highest in the sector, taking into account the foreclosed assets of CAM.

Fewer discounts

Bankia, Bankinter and Popular do not publish results about their respective real estate businesses. Popular is the bank that holds the greatest number of problem assets (doubtful and foreclosed assets) in proportion to the size of its balance sheet. It has loans amounting to €13,061 million in this category, with a coverage level of 44%. But the figures that really jump out are the volume of foreclosed homes, developments and land (€14,169 million) held by the entity, which closed the year with sales of €1,503 million.

Last year, some entities sold some of their house sale divisions. Altogether, these seven entities offloaded more than 20,000 units for a total value of €11,700 million. Sabadell was the most active bank in terms of house sales, generating €2,744 million. Various sources agree that 2014 was characterised by a reduction in the discounts applied, which in some cases, meant that the income received was actually higher than the recorded book value.

Some entities, such as BBVA and Sabadell, have an Asset Protection Scheme (Esquema de Protección de Activos or EPA) in place, following their acquisitions of Unnim and CAM, respectively. This insurance allows them to cover any additional deteriorations on their balance sheets over the next few years, through the Frob. Sabadell has recognised that it may start to use this financial cushion this year.

With the exception of Bankia, none of these companies has transferred assets to Sareb, the bad bank that absorbed loans to developers, and foreclosed homes and land, from entities that received public aid in the rescue of 2012.

Original story: El Mundo (by Javier G. Gallego)

Translation: Carmel Drake