Sareb Close to Awarding €8-Billion Contract to Service Real Estate Portfolio

21 October 2019 – Sareb has chosen two finalists to vie for the management contract for €8 billion in loans and real estate: Haya Real Estate, controlled by Cerberus, and Servihabitat, by Lone Star. The bad bank expects to award the contract, which is the largest currently on the market, within the next few weeks. The existing contract, with Haya RE, is set is expire, which led Sareb to seek to reduce its costs.

Sareb opted in the spring of this year to place the contract on the market again, to lower its associated costs. Principally, the firm is looking to pay less in management fees, while paying more for successful sales and placements. Until now, the bad bank has been paying roughly €100 million per year in fees.

Four other groups had been vying for the contract: DoValue’s Altamira AM, Intrum’s Solvia, Finsolutia, and Hypoges. However, three other contracts, currently with Solvia, Altamira and Servihabitat, are set to expire in 2021.

At the same time as Sareb is looking to reduce its fees, the contract, known as the Project Esparta, includes the bad bank taking on more responsibility for the assets. The change has reduced the size of the portfolio in play from about €11 billion (at net book value) to roughly €8 billion now. The new servicer’s activities will be limited to selling or renting any properties, while Sareb will take on many of Haya RE’s previous duties.

Original Story: El Confidencial – Jorge Zuloaga & Ruth Ugalde

Photo: EFE / Emilio Naranjo

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

Sareb Opens Bidding to Other Servicers After Low Bids from Haya, Solvia, Altamira and Servihabitat

30 July 2019

Sareb has notified the four servicers that manage its €34 billion in real estate loans and assets that it will open up bidding on its management contracts to other potential bidders, after having received a round of offers that it considered insufficient. Haya Real Estate (Cerberus), Servihabitat (Lone Star), Solvia (Intrum) and Altamira (doValue) have been servicing the bad bank’s assets until now. Sareb mandated DC Advisory to manage the process as the bank looks to reduce the size of the commissions it has been paying to the four firms.

DC Advisory and Sareb have reportedly been in contact with smaller, specialised firms such as Hipoges, Finsolutia and Copernicus. The decision is a message to the four current servicers, letting them know that they may lose out on future contracts unless they improve their bids. Sareb is considering dividing some sections of its portfolio by geographical location, reducing the number of managers in each and streamlining its operations.

The process – known as the Project Esparta – sent shudders through the servicing sector and was a factor in the postponement of Haya Real Estate’s IPO last year.  Haya currently has the largest mandate, servicing 37% of the bad bank’s assets (2014). Altamira, in turn, manages 29%, while Servihabitat has 19% and Solvia 15%.

Original Story: El Confidencial – Jorge Zuloaga

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. Turner

Sareb Offers the Contracts of Altamira, Servihabitat & Solvia to its Rivals

17 June 2019 – El Confidencial

Sareb is on a mission to change its course. According to market sources, the bad bank chaired by Jaime Echegoyen (pictured below) has decided to put its contracts with Altamira (owned by doBank), Servihabitat (Lone Star) and Solvia (Intrum) out to tender two years before their scheduled renewal.

Even though the contracts are not due to expire until the end of 2021, Sareb is putting them out to tender alongside that of Haya Real Estate, which is due to expire at the end of 2019. This represents a boost for Cerberus’s servicer, given that its competitors will now also have to focus on retaining their own contracts rather than just bidding for Haya’s.

In the event that Sareb awards the contracts of Altamira, Servihabitat and Solvia to other entities, it will have to compensate the servicers since their contracts clearly establish early termination clauses.

Altogether, Sareb is looking at putting out to tender the management of €34 billion in loans and properties that it still has left in its portfolio. The four will have to submit their bids in the next few months, specifying which assets they want to manage and what commissions they will charge.

The largest mandate is that of Haya, which manages assets proceeding from Bankia, which accounted for 37% of the bad bank’s original assets. It is followed by Altamira, which manages the assets proceeding from Catalunya Banc, BMN and Caja 3 (29% of the total); Servihabitat, which manages the assets from NCG Banco, Liberbank and Banco de Valencia (19%); and Solvia,  which manages assets from Bankia (foreclosed), Banco Gallego and Ceiss (15%). Clearly, there is a lot at stake for these servicers.

Original story: El Confidencial (by J. Zuloaga & R. Ugalde)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Moonlake Capital Launches a Vehicle to Invest €600M in NPLs

27 May 2019 – Eje Prime

Moonlake Capital is going to launch a vehicle to invest €600 million in large portfolios of non-performing loans in Madrid, Barcelona, the Costa del Sol, the Balearic Islands, Valencia and Sevilla.

The new vehicle will operate as a servicer for the fund and so will manage and divest the portfolio of properties that the banks were left with after their owners were unable to keep up the repayments on their mortgages.

As such, the investment group created in 2016 and headquartered in Madrid will enter the market to compete with the likes of Servihabitat, Altamira, Solvia and Haya Real Estate, amongst others.

In parallel, Moonlake is also planning to create a joint venture with an as yet unidentified investor to develop a 2.5 million m2 project in Málaga’s technology park, involving the construction of 5,000 homes, 110,000 m2 of industrial warehouses and 30,000 m2 of commercial premises.

Original story: Eje Prime (by Marta Casado Pla)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Sareb Launches Project Esparta to Shake Up its Servicer Arrangements

17 May 2019 – Cinco Días

Sareb has launched a new operation called Project Esparta, through which it is seeking to turn its existing strategy on its head.

The bad bank’s aims with this initiative are multiple: to create sub-portfolios into which to classify its assets; to renegotiate the contracts with its servicers to recover the services transferred to them; to delay sales and assume the stock of assets to generate added value; to create regional centres; and to equip itself with its own technological infrastructure. The overall objective is to professionalise sales and enhance the value of its assets.

As a result, Sareb is going to start renegotiating the contracts that it has with Haya, Altamira, Solvia and Servihabitat to recover some of the activities assigned to those servicers. Haya’s contract is due to expire on 31 December 2019 and according to the bad bank, it may be renewed in part or in whole, or the portfolio under management may be put up for tender. The contracts with Altamira, Solvia and Servihabitat are due to terminate in 2021.

Haya was hoping to make its stock market debut this year, but it will have to put those plans on hold until its future with Sareb is resolved.

Original story: Cinco Días (by Ricardo Sobrino)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Sareb Hires DC Advisory to Overhaul its Servicer Contracts

15 March 2019 – El Confidencial

Sareb is determined to change track. The entity chaired by Jaime Echegoyen  (pictured below) has taken the decision to cut back the contracts that it currently has with its servicers (Haya, Altamira, Solvia and Servihabitat), in an overhaul of the work that is currently carried out by those platforms.

The timing is perfect, given that Haya’s contract is due to expire at the end of this year and the rest of the agreements mature in 2021. To this end, the bad bank has engaged the advisory firm DC Advisory (previously Montalbán) to help it redefine the servicers’ contracts. The business generates commissions of around €100 million per year.

Sareb is keen not to renew the existing contracts with lower commissions but rather to design a completely different model with new conditions and perimeters. The options range from assuming more of the work itself in-house to organising the out-sourcing of the portfolios by region.

The pressure is on for Sareb to divest its assets given that the entity itself has an expiry date and the current climate is ideal for undertaking operations.

Original story: El Confidencial (by R. Ugalde & J. Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Unicaja Considers the Sale of a Large RE Portfolio in 2019

12 February 2019 – Expansión

Unicaja accelerated the clean up of its balance sheet during the course of 2018. The Málaga-based entity decreased its volume of non-performing assets by 22%, in such a way that it is now close to the reduction objective it established in its latest strategic plan for 2020. That is according to the figures provided by the bank itself during the presentation of its results for last year.

The entity chaired by Manuel Azuaga (pictured above) ended 2018 with a volume of non-performing assets (NPAs) amounting to €3.6 billion, of which €1.7 billion were foreclosed assets and €1.9 billion were non-performing loans.

In five years, the bank has reduced its toxic legacy by 51% or more than €3.8 billion. Unicaja’s commitment to investors was to bring its exposure to problem assets down below the €3.5 billion mark before the end of 2020. The rate of sales of small NPA portfolios has allowed it to get ahead in the calendar that it established in its strategic plan. But the entity will continue its clean up.

The heads of Unicaja have reported their intention to continue with small portfolio sales during 2019. Moreover, they do not rule out carrying out the sale of a large portfolio in order to segregate a majority of the non-performing exposure, in a similar way to what most of the Spanish banks have been doing over the last two years.

Unicaja’s decision to carry out a massive property sale will depend, like in other cases, on the discounts that the entity will have to apply to its portfolio. The NPAs of the Malagan bank have an average coverage level of 57%, which means that a discount of a similar percentage could be applied to the book value without resulting in accounting losses for the entity this year.

High asset quality

Unicaja is, together with Abanca, the only Spanish bank entity that still retains ownership of its servicer, the real estate subsidiary through which it sells its homes and commercial premises.

The recent decision by Sabadell to sell 80% of Solvia to Intrum followed other previous operations that have seen the Spanish banks undoing their positions in the property segment, including the sale of Servihabitat to Lone Star by CaixaBank, and of Aliseda to Blackstone by Santander.

Beyond Unicaja’s plans for its property, the entity has been recording a positive trend in terms of the quality of its assets for several years now. The net inflows of problem loans have registered eight consecutive quarters of decreases, and between September and December, they recorded the largest decrease in the bank’s historical series.

Since 2014, Unicaja’s default ratio has also decreased by almost half: from 12.6% recorded in December 2014, the Málaga-based entity has managed to clean up its balance sheet to bring the rate of toxic loans down to just 6.7%.

Original story: Expansión (by Nicolás M. Sarriés)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Following Blackstone, Cerberus, Lone Star and Bain Plan to Launch Socimis

7 February 2019

Major investment funds have taken over billions of euros of real estate from the banking sector in recent years and are now planning their exit strategies. Some funds, such as Cerberus, Bain Capital and Lone Star intend to follow in Blackstone’s footsteps, considering the creation of socimis with a portion of their assets, various sources in the sector told the Economista.

The sources stated that some funds’ plans are further advanced than others, already at the point where they are analysing the size of the portfolios which they may transfer to the market through this type of listed vehicle. They held out the possibility that one or more of the new socimis may premiere before the end of the year.

Under this formula, the funds would increase their investments’ liquidity, taking over from other more core investors, with a longer-term profile and more moderate levels of profitability.

The three funds’ future socimis would focus on the residential rental housing market with a model based on largely dispersed units since the apartments they acquired from the banks generally fit such a profile.

Major operations

Cerberus earned its place on the podium as one of the most significant real estate investors in Spain, just behind Blackstone. The fund, based in New York, was one of the first to arrive in Spain during the real estate crisis, between 2010 and 2012, and since then it has been taking positions in almost every sector of the property market through Haya Real Estate , the developer Inmoglaciar, the real estate agency Housell and Gescobro.

In November 2017, it bought 80% of BBVA’s real estate business, which had a gross value of some 13 billion euros. The transaction was the second largest portfolio operation ever concluded in the history of Spain, behind Blackstone’s acquisition of Banco Popular’s toxic assets from Banco Santander. Cerberus has also been increasing its portfolio of NPLs and REOs with other smaller operations such as CaixaBank’s Agora project, Sabadell’s Challenger and Coliseum portfolios and BBVA’s Jaipur Project, among others.

On the other hand, Cerberus is in the race to acquire Solvia Desarrollos Inmobiliarios, a developer that owns a portfolio of land valued at about €1 billion.

Lone Star is also analysing the possibility of launching a socimi with a portion of the properties it acquired during its flagship operation in Spain when it bought CaixaBank’s real estate business, which had a gross value of 12.8 billion euros. The fund also acquired the bank’s servicer, Servihabitat.

For its part, Bain Capital, which owns the developer Habitat, has also been one of the most active investors in debt portfolios. One of its more recent operations, known as the Shell Project, involved the acquisition of some €700 million in NPLs to developers from Kutxabank.

Original Story: Eleconomista.es – Alba Brualla

Photo: Getty

Translation: Richard Turner

CaixaBank Completes the Sale of 80% of its RE Business to Lone Star

20 December 2018 – La Vanguardia

Today, CaixaBank has completed the sale of 80% of its real estate business to two subsidiaries of the US fund Lone Star for around €4 billion.

The operation was formalised on Thursday, after the necessary approvals were obtained, according to reports from CaixaBank, which has specified that this real estate package primarily comprises assets available for sale as at 31 October 2017 and 100% of the company Servihabitat.

All of these assets have been transferred to a newly created company called Coral Homes.

The initial sales price for 80% of the share capital of this company is €3.974 billion, which corresponds to a valuation for 100% of the shares of €4.967.5 billion.

Nevertheless, the initial price will be adjusted up or down over the coming months depending on a series of variables that are typical in these types of operations, said the bank chaired by Jordi Gual and whose CEO is Gonzalo Gortázar.

In parallel to the sale of the real estate portfolio, CaixaBank and other companies in the group have signed a servicing contract with Servihabitat for their real estate assets, present and future, for a period of five years.

The global impact of the operation is estimated to be a loss of €40 million net of taxes.

Meanwhile, the impact of the deal on the fully loaded CET 1 capital ratio is estimated to be an improvement of 15 basis points.

Aura advised Lone Star on this purchase.

Original story: La Vanguardia 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Bankia Finalises Sale of its Largest Toxic Asset Portfolio to Lone Star

14 December 2018 – El Confidencial

Bankia is finalising the sale of the largest portfolio of problem assets in its history. The nationalised entity is holding exclusive negotiations with the US fund Lone Star for the sale of projects Earth and October, according to financial sources consulted by El Confidencial. Sources at Bankia have confirmed those conversations through a relevant event submitted to Spain’s National Securities and Market Commission (CNMV) and have said that “once the negotiations have been concluded, the market will be informed about them in detail”.

This macro-sale includes unpaid mortgage loans and properties worth around €3 billion. The negotiations are in a very advanced stage and the operation could be signed before the end of the year. The price could reach €1 billion, according to the average prices being paid in the market at the moment.

The group chaired by José Ignacio Goirigolzarri has sold these macro-portfolios taking advantage of the surplus liquidity in the market and the appetite from large funds for buying Spanish property. With this sale, the nationalised group will end 2018 with problem assets sold worth more than €5.5 billion – by September, it had sold €2.4 billion – almost doubling the annual divestment objective of €2.9 billion.

Lone Star has competed in this process head to head against Blackstone, which in recent weeks has lost the battle for the two portfolios to its US rival. The fund has redoubled its commitment to Spain after the changes that it underwent at the beginning of the year, with the departure of Juan Pepa and Felipe Morenés. These two executives led Lone Star during its purchase of Neinor and of the portfolio of large loans from Eurohypo in Spain.

Following those divestments and the raising of new funds, the fund is now betting on Spanish property again through its team in London. Bankia’s portfolio will be the second major operation after its purchase of a large proportion of CaixaBank’s assets and that entity’s platform Servihabitat.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake