19 December 2018 – Expansión
The Socimi Testa held an extraordinary General Shareholders’ Meeting on Tuesday, where it reduced the number of members of its Board of Directors from 11 to 5. The new governing body includes three people proceeding from the new majority shareholder, the investor group Blackstone.
Testa Residencial is going to sign a mega-loan amounting to €1.943 billion, which it had already agreed in principle after the US fund Blackstone takes control of the rental home Socimi with the purchase of 80.6% of its share capital within the next few days.
The loan, equivalent to the amount that the purchase of the firm has cost the fund (around €1.52 billion) along with the debt held by the Socimi, has been agreed with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Société Générale and Santander itself, Blackstone’s partner in Testa with 18% of its share capital.
This bank financing was agreed during the first meeting of Testa’s new Board of Directors following the restructuring of the management body conducted hours before, at the General Shareholders’ Meeting, when entry was granted to Blackstone.
By virtue of this restructuring, Testa’s Board has been reduced to five members, from the previous number of eleven. The fund has appointed three representatives to the Board, one of which, Diego San José, will also be the President of the Socimi, a role held until now by Ignacio Moreno.
The other two chairs at the table will continue to be occupied by the current CEO, Wolfgang Beck, and the director Miguel Oñate. In this way, the Board seeks to ensure continuity in the management of the real estate firm and to continue benefitting from Oñate’s experience and knowledge.
Despite this continuity in management, at the first meeting of Testa’s Board, with Blackstone in the driving seat, a resolution was taken to approve a new strategy for the company, which had been planning to invest €550 million in the purchase of new rental homes to add to its existing portfolio of 10,700 flats.
The new strategy involves “analysing the eventual purchase of new homes depending on the circumstances at play in each case”. Moreover, Blackstone has raised Testa’s current leverage limit, situated at 35% of its asset value, and has reduced the dividend payment to the “legal minimum”.
In terms of the super-loan, it is being guaranteed by the assets of the Socimi itself, worth €2.3 billion in May when it was considering making its debut on the main stock market, and which will be signed with a two-year term, with the possibility of three annual extensions.
Before changing the dividend policy, the Board also agreed to distribute a payment to the shareholders leaving the Socimi as well as to the new shareholders.
Specifically, it is going to pay €7.612 per share to the shareholders that leave the company after selling their stakes to Blackstone, in other words, to BBVA, Acciona and Merlin and to Santander for the proportion of shares that it has also sold.
Moreover, Testa will pay €0.035 per share to those players that will be its shareholders once the sale and purchase agreement has been signed within the next few days, in other words, to Blackstone and Santander, as well as to a group of minority shareholders who own 0.5%.
With the acquisition of this Socimi, Blackstone is strengthening its position as the largest owner of rental homes in Spain, with around 24,000 homes through its various firms and Socimis. Moreover, it is consolidating its position as one of the largest real estate owners in the country, with an asset portfolio worth more than €20 billion.
Original story: Expansión
Translation: Carmel Drake