Ibercaja Finalises the Sale of a €600M Real Estate Portfolio

8 December 2018 – El Periódico de Aragón

Ibercaja is continuing to take steps to best position itself ahead of its stock market debut, which is scheduled for next spring. The Aragon-based bank wants to divest more real estate assets before the end of the year to clean up its balance sheet and improve profitability, an objective that it expects will materialise in the coming weeks with the sale of a portfolio of problem assets worth around €600 million, according to confirmation provided by the entity yesterday to this newspaper. To carry out this operation, which is called Project Cierzo, it has engaged the investment bank Alantra, which is finalising the negotiations to find a buyer.

The move by Ibercaja follows the widespread practice across the whole Spanish financial sector and forms part of its strategic plan for 2018-2020, whose goals include the aim of reducing its toxic property assets by half (doubtful and foreclosed) with the mixed sale of around €2 billion in land and housing. That would help to improve efficiency, by bringing it below 55%, and would make the entity more attractive for future investors.

During the period 2015-2017, the bank led by Víctor Iglesias (pictured above, left) managed to clean up €1.6 billion. At the end of the third quarter of 2018, the volume of problem assets amounted to €3.9 billion, which represented a decrease of 10.1% (€437 million) with respect to the same period last year and of 7.3% (€304 million) compared to the end of 2017 (€4.2 billion), according to the figures provided by the entity at the beginning of November. Based on those numbers, Project Cierzo – which was revealed by Voz Pópuli – would represent a significant step towards the objective of cutting the entity’s real estate balance in half by 2020, as there would be around €1 billion left to achieve that goal.

A month ago, Ibercaja announced that it had engaged the bank Rothschild, as an independent advisor for its stock market debut, a step that European legislation requires it to take before the end of 2020. Currently, the Aragon-based bank is controlled by the Fundación Ibercaja, which owns 87.8% of its share capital, a stake that must be reduced to below 50% to avoid a fine. The other shareholders are the foundations of three former savings banks –CAI, 4.85%; Badajoz, 3.9%; and Círculo de Burgos, 3.45%– which it absorbed when it purchased the Caja3 group in 2013.

The entity is working to ensure that its valuation is as high as possible, and so the specific date for the IPO will depend on the evolution of the market. Nevertheless, it is most likely that it will make the leap during the second quarter of 2019.

Original story: El Periódico de Aragón (by J. H. P.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

British Fund Behind Purchase of Benidorm’s Kronos Building for €20M

21 March 2018 – Alicante Plaza

A British fund is behind the purchase of most of the apartments in the Kronos building in Benidorm. According to local sources, of the more than 150 homes that are owned by Sareb, 136 are going to be taken over by a British fund. The operation is worth more than €20 million and just needs to be signed, something that should happen within the coming days.

As Alicante Plaza published on Tuesday, the so-called “bad bank” has managed to sell the properties that it owned in the city’s skyscraper in just one year. Around 20 homes have been sold to individuals, whilst the remainder will end up in the hands of a British fund.

But that is not the full story. It would seem that, at the end of last year, Sareb sold the storerooms and garages that it also owned in the building, the fifth highest skyscraper in Benidorm, and one of the tallest in Spain.

The tower has 41 storeys and was conceived as a luxury residential property: the structure occupies less than 20% of the plot. The remainder is used for common areas and recreation with two swimming pools, one for adults and one for children, a gym, a football pitch, padel and tennis courts, as well as extensive green areas.

The building was constructed by the Valencian property developer Grupo García Ojeda in 2005, and the keys were handed over three years later. But the crisis hit the sale of the apartments and ten years later almost all of the flats were still on the market

In this way, Sareb is getting rid of one of the skyscrapers that was hit the hardest by the “bursting” of the real estate bubble. It is worth remembering that Sareb rescued nine savings banks, including properties and loans to property developers. The latter was an operation that saw the skyscraper awarded to the “bad bank, whose debt used to belong to one of the companies owned by Grupo García Ojeda. Kronos has more than one link to Valencia, given that it was designed by the architecture firm MAPRC, which is also from that city.

Original story: Alicante Plaza (by Alba Mercader)

Translation: Carmel Drake

The FROB Engages Intermoney Valora to Revalue Former CX Assets

5 February 2018 – Expansión

The Spanish Fund for Orderly Banking Restructuring (FROB) has engaged the financial consultancy firm Intermoney Valora to carry out a “valuation service for certain assets in the framework of the process to wind up Catalunya Banc (CX)”.

Sources familiar with the process indicate that this project stems from the process to privatise the former Catalan savings bank, which was nationalised by the FROB in 2012. In accordance with the design of the divestment at the time, the banking business was transferred in its entirety to BBVA, whilst the real estate business (known as the Hercules portfolio) was acquired by the fund Blackstone.

Those same sources indicate that at the time, a small percentage of the assets that should have been transferred to Blackstone, remained under the umbrella of BBVA for technical reasons and could not be transferred. “That has generated what is known as compensable damage, which was anticipated for in the sales contract and, therefore, had been provisioned”, they add.

The role of Intermoney Valora will be to estimate the economic value today of that small percentage of assets pending transfer to Blackstone, so that the indemnities can be calculated.

According to details specified on the Frob’s public contracting page, Intermoney (which competed with five other firms) will receive €130,000 for this assignment and will have two months (extendable for up to one more) to carry out the work.

Last week, the President of BBVA, Francisco González, admitted that he would not have bought CX today. “We are delighted to have purchased savings banks but that was five years ago. Would we buy CX today? Probably not”, he said.

Original story: Expansión (by N. Sarriés)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sareb Sells €150M NPL Portfolio to Oaktree

30 December 2017 – Expansión

The bad bank has closed the sale of several non-performing loan portfolios during the last few days of the year. A week ago, it announced the sale of a package of loans secured by properties to Deutsche Bank, whose nominal value amounted to €375 million. That was its largest sale of the year.

And yesterday, Sareb reported that it has reached an agreement to sell the so-called Project Tambo to the US fund Oaktree for a nominal value of €150 million. The debt is secured by residential assets and land located in the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Cataluña, the Community of Madrid, País Vasco and the Community of Valencia.

Sareb has been advised by CBRE and Ashurst in this process, whilst Oaktree has awarded its mandate to JLL and Herbert Smith Freehills.

The bad bank, where the toxic assets of the rescued savings banks were parked, closed 2017 with a lower volume of transactions of this kind compared to 2016. Nevertheless, it has launched a trial to test an online sales channel, which may allow it to intensify its activity over the next few months.

Having said that, 80% of the revenues that Sareb obtains do not proceed from the institutional market, but rather from the direct sale of properties in the retail market.

In five years, Sareb has divested 27% of the 200,000 assets that it received initially and has repaid debt amounting to almost €13 billion. It has ten years left to liquidate the rest of its balance sheet. The entity’s cumulative losses amount to €781 million.

Original story: Expansión (by R. L.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Project Gold: Bankia Puts €180M Loan Portfolio Up For Sale

20 February 2017 – Expansión

Bankia, the fifth largest bank in Spain, has just put a €180 million doubtful debt portfolio up for sale. The package contains loans to property developers and is being marketed under the name Project Gold, according to market sources.

Specifically, the portfolio comprises loans granted to small and medium-sized companies in Spain, many of which are property developers.

Last year, the entity managed to close several operations of this kind for €455 million in total, according to its income statement. However, none of those deals featured in the top fifteen largest transactions of 2016 by volume.

Portfolio sales, along with debt recovery processes, have decreased Bankia’s doubtful debt balance by 12.5%, according to annual data. Over the last year, the group has reduced the perimeter of its foreclosed assets by 16.4%. The coverage ratio of its doubtful balances amounts to 55%, which is above average for the sector.

Bankia has a significantly lower exposure to property developer risk than the other large banks because it offloaded the majority of its problematic assets to Sareb, the bad bank, as did the other savings banks that were rescued using public money. Only 1% of Bankia’s business comes from that sector.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sareb Unlikely To Distribute Any Profits To Its Shareholders

30 December 2016 – Expansión

Accounting circular / The Ministry of Finance has softened its demands on Sareb. In exchange, the bad bank’s owners, namely, the State and Spain’s largest banks, will not receive anything for their investments in the bad bank, for at least the next few years.

The Ministry of Finance has softened the situation facing the shareholders of Sareb (the most important of which is the State, through the Frob), by not forcing it to recognise latent losses in its income statement, like it has been obliged to do until now. In exchange, the Ministry has shut down the possibility that these shareholders will receive any results from their investment, even if the company does manage to generate profits at some point.

The harsh situation created by the accounting circular that the Bank of Spain designed for Sareb has barely lasted a year. According to that legislation, Sareb was obliged, within a period of two years, to reappraise all of the assets on its balance sheet (which proceeded from the real estate portfolios of the former savings banks that received public aid) and recognise the latent losses in the income statement each year, given that the price at which it bought those assets was significantly higher than their market prices.

The reality of all of this was seen last year when, in order to avoid near bankruptcy, the bad bank reduced its capital to zero and converted a substantial part of its subordinated debt (€2,171 million) into capital, to offset some of the losses for the year and restore the equity balance. Sareb recognised provisions amounting to €3,900 million in 2015 and recorded capital of €953 million (2% of the balance sheet) and subordinated debt of €1,429 million.

It was expected that something similar would happen this year, although with a less intense effect, given that most of the assets were reappraised in 2015, and that the capital balance would again be reduced and more subordinated debt would be converted into capital.

But to avoid this, the Ministry of Finance has made two significant changes. The first is that Sareb must continue valuing its assets at market prices, but if those values result in the creation of latent losses, then rather than recognise them in the income statement, they should be recorded in the equity statement, whereby reducing the company’s share capital. In parallel, and to avoid the company having to file for insolvency due to an excessive reduction of its capital, Sareb may also benefit from the exception afforded to real estate companies at the height of the crisis, which exempted them from having to comply with a certain relationship between the value of their assets and their own funds. (…).

Two conditions

In exchange for these concessions, which will undoubtedly give Sareb some much needed breathing room, the new legislation from the Ministry of Finance establishes two conditions. The first is that when an asset is sold for below its acquisition price, the real loss must be recognised in the income statement; and the second is that if Sareb generates profits in the future, then whilst the equity account exists in which the latent losses are being reflected, then all of the profits earned must be applied to that account. That means that, in all likelihood, Sareb’s shareholders (…) will not receive anything for their investments in the company over the next few years. And it is reasonable to think that they will never receive anything, given Sareb’s asset composition.

This is the first time that this fact has ever been acknowledged, more or less explicitly. (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Salvador Arancibia)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Neinor Buys 7 Plots Of Buildable Land In El Cañaveral (Madrid)

27 December 2016 – El Confidencial

Developments in the south-east of Madrid have come under the spotlight of Neinor, one of the largest property developers in Spain, which has just marked a turning point with the purchase of several plots of buildable land in El Cañaveral, the most advanced neighbourhood in the capital’s ambitious expansion project.

The company led by Juan Velayos has acquired seven plots of land, with a combined buildable area of 47,000 m2, where it plans to start to build almost 500 homes, according to sources familiar with the transaction. The company itself has declined to make any comments.

Specifically, Neinor wants to construct 24 detached homes and 459 multi-family homes, plans which would lead to the definitive launch of El Cañaveral, where 14,000 homes are expected to be created in total, to house a population of around 50,000 people.

Nevertheless, Velayos’ plans for this development go much further, given that it is one of the few areas in Madrid where it is possible to buy buildable land, in other words, land that is ready to be developed.

According to the same sources, the company is holding advanced conversations to acquire four other plots, whose buildability exceeds 11,300 m2 and where it hopes to build another 95 homes.

Appetite for growth

Since its re-launch just over a year ago, Neinor has shown a strong appetite for growth, and to achieve that objective, it is actively searching for blocks of buildable land where it will be able to start to build new homes quickly.

In fact, the road map that the company announced at the end of 2015 aims to develop around 3,000 homes per year and to establish a permanent bank of land to enable it to build 10,000 homes. (…).

In addition to these ambitious business plans, another major corporate challenge promises to mark Neinor’s future in 2017, namely, its debut on the stock market. It is already working on the IPO and the size of the company will play an important role in its success.

The current firm Neinor was created by Lone Star, one of the international funds that was most committed to Spain during the worst years of the crisis, from the foundations of Kutxabank’s former real estate group.

This company, named Neinor by the Basque entity, was created in 2012 from the sum of the different real estate activities of the Basque former savings banks – BBK, Vital and Kutxa – and the Andalucían entity Cajasur.

Lone Star bought the property developer at the end of 2014 for €930 million, in an operation that represented a real milestone for the real estate sector, which was still licking its wounds, given that it represented the largest transaction by a company in the sector since the outbreak of the crisis.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Lone Star Will List Neinor On Stock Market In 2017

27 October 2016 – Cinco Días

The reactivation of the real estate sector in Spain has a future stock market star in the making: Neinor Homes, the former property development arm of Kutxabank, which the US private equity fund Lone Star acquired in May last year. The goal is to list the company on the stock market in 2017 and it has been assigned a preliminary valuation of around €2,000 million.

Neinor Homes belonged to Kutxabank until May 2015, although the sale agreement with Lone Star was signed in December 2014. The US private equity fund acquired the company that groups together properties from the former Basque savings banks, created in December 2012 as a bad bank, under the terms of the royal decree governing the clean up and sale of real estate assets in the financial sector.

The company was sold to the US private equity firm for €930 million, but Lone Star’s goal was not to liquidate the property developments and land that the entity’s property developer owned and pocket the corresponding gains. Instead, Juan Velayos (pictured above), CEO of Neinor Homes, announced as soon as he joined the company – previously he worked for Renta Corporación, but left in 2011 to join PwC – that the mission was to invest in land and construct developments.

Financial sources indicate that the company is already holding negotiations to engage investment banks to assist with its debut on the stock market, expected in 2017. Preliminary appraisal values, pending the publication of the company’s accounts for 2016 and the evolution of the real estate market, amount to around €2,000 million. That figure represents a valuation that is more than 100% higher than the price at which Lone Star purchased the company.

“From day one, the company was designed to list on the stock market. It is the natural step”, say sources at the company. “We are working with investment banks to evaluate the option of debuting on the stock market in 2017, but the final decision has not been taken yet. We will do it when we think that it is the optimal time in the market”, add the same sources.

It will be the first debut by a bread-and-butter property developer on the Spanish stock market in recent times, given that the only debuts in the sector since the crisis have involved Socimis (Lar, Hispania, Axiare and Merlin, which list on the main exchange); and 25 Socimis, which have debuted on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB). Neinor is a rarity, because it has moved away from the traditional real estate ownership model focused on rental income and the office market. At Neinor, revenues are driven by residential property developments.

The last traditional real estate company to debut on the stock market was Realia on 6 June 2007. The share price of that firm, hwich is controlled by Carlos Slim, has plummeted by 86% since that placement.

Velayos designed a €1,000 million investment plan for Neinor’s land. In 2015, the firm recorded sales of €340 million and EBITDA of €25 million. Nevertheless, the latest accounts filed with the commercial registry show a clear split between the two periods –the firm recorded losses of €70.9 million between January and June 2015 and losses of €11.2 million between July and December.

The company has signed an agreement with Kutxabank to administer and manage its assets for an initial period of seven years, extendable on an annual basis, which guarantees it recurrent annual income. The accounts filed with the commercial registry show that the firm recorded revenues of €14.4 million in H2 2015 by virtue of that contract. (…).

Original story: Cinco Días (by P.M. Simón, L. Salces and A. Simón)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sareb Puts Its Largest Portfolio Ever Up For Sale

18 October 2016 – Expansión

Sareb has just launched a competitive process to sell the largest portfolio so far in its three and a half year life. The macro-operation was approved at the most recent Board meeting, in light of the investor appetite that is being left unsatisfied by the shortage of products currently available for opportunistic funds, which buy distressed debt at knockdown prices. The target audience for this latest portfolio are international specialist funds with management capacity and knowledge of the Spanish market.

According to sources in the sector familiar with the operation, the portfolio comprises a package of 200 non-performing loans, which are secured by residential flats, mainly housing blocks located in Cataluña, Andalucía, Madrid, Galicia and the Community of Valencia. Together, their nominal value amounts to €1,000 million.

The competitive process is now officially open, although no offers have been received yet. (…). According to the sources, Sareb plans to sell the whole package to a single buyer before the end of the year.

The bad bank has its own investor relations department and regularly holds road shows for large financial institutions. Last year, it held meetings with 780 international investors. In Spain, the opportunistic funds that have sold portfolios over the last four years have managed to obtain returns (IRR) of between 10% and 20%, according to sources in the sector.

This year, Sareb’s activity has been characterised more by individual operations than by high volume deals. Its transactions have become more complicated since the Bank of Spain introduced accounting regulations requiring the bad bank to mark to market the value of its assets each year. (…).

Sareb is a giant container of NPLs, above all loans to property developers, which it purchased from the savings banks that received public aid. 25.7% of the entity’s remaining balance sheet correspond to real estate assets. (…).

Sareb has outsourced the sale of its real estate assets to four agents: Solvia, Altamira Asset Management, Servihabitat and Haya Real Estate. On average, it is selling around 27 units per day and has a market share of 4%, which is low because the market is very fragmented. For the first time in 2015, sales of land exceeded sales of residential properties. The latter are being sold for an average price of €74,000, according to Sareb’s annual report for 2015.

Sareb is also a property developer

Earlier this month, the entity put its first completed residential developments on the market. They contain 700 homes located all over Spain, which were left unfinished when the savings banks started to have solvency problems. These properties are being sold to the public for prices ranging between €32,000 and €390,000, and along with 1,300 other new build homes, form part of the “Casas de Estreno” campaign. The corporate website receives 409,000 visits per year and intensive utilisation of big data is helping the entity to maximise its returns from these transactions. (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Raquel Lander)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Bankia & Apollo Go To Court Re Sale Of Finanmadrid

3 October 2016 – Expansión

Both entities are waiting for the discrepancies that arose from the sale of Finanmadrid to be resolved. The sale was completed in 2013 for €1.6 million

Fracciona Financiera Holding, the subsidiary of Apollo, filed the first lawsuit, in which it claimed €8.5 million from Bankia due to discrepancies in the sale and purchase contract based on the determination of the sales price for Finanmadrid.

The contract included clauses that have an impact on the basis of the evolution of various parameters. These conditions have been common in multiple sales operations closed in the financial sector since the outbreak of the crisis. The asset protection schemes (EPA), which cover the buyers of former savings banks, are the most visible example of these types of operations.

Bankia has responded to the lawsuit filed by Apollo, with its own claim for €6.4 million.

Finanmadrid, which used to specialise in offering consumer credit through retailers and car dealerships, has now been integrated into Avant Tarjetas, a subsidiary of Evo Banco, controlled by Apollo. Previously, it was integrated into Fracciona Financiera Holding. In the company’s accounts from last year, the audit report explains that “in the opinion of the company’s legal advisors, an unfavourable outcome from the lawsuit (with Bankia) is remote, nevertheless, the shareholder (Apollo) would financially support any contingency that may arise in the event that no provision has been recognised”.

Before the integration, Finanmadrid reduced its share capital by €2.24 million to absorb losses and so it was left at €2.79 million.

Apollo’s claim against Bankia forms part of a broad range of claims against the entity chaired by José Ignacio Goirigolzarri. In total, the bank faces claims amounting to €390 million, not including the claims relating to its debut on the stock market and the sale of its preference shares.


The largest claim, amounting to €165 million, is one presented by ING Belgium, BBVA, Santander and Catalunya Banc against Bankia, ACS and Sacyr. (…).

The construction group Rayet also claims €78.2 million from Bankia for what it considers are accounting irregularities and for differences in the valuation of plots of land linked to the debut of Astroc on the stock market in 2006, an operation piloted by the former Caja Madrid.

The bank has 305 legal proceedings open relating to derivatives with claims amounting to €38.8 million.

Original story: Expansión (by E. del Pozo)

Translation: Carmel Drake