Blackstone to List New Socimi with 4,000 Rental Homes Purchased from Sabadell

29 May 2018 – El Confidencial

One of the first funds to bet on the boom in rental housing in Spain, Blackstone, is on the verge of listing its fourth Socimi to specialise in this market, an area that is really blossoming.

The Socimi in question is Torbel Investments, a vehicle that primarily comprises the so-called Project Empire, a portfolio containing almost 4,000 homes, parking spaces, premises and storerooms that Banco Sabadell sold to the US fund two years ago.

At the time, the operation was worth around €600 million, although in net book value terms, Blackstone has recorded the assets at €113 million, according to Torbel’s most recent official accounts, corresponding to the year ending 2016.

Currently, the fund is on the home stretch of the procedures necessary with the CNMV – Spain’s National Securities and Markets Commission – to list the vehicle, whose natural destination is the MAB – Alternative Investment Market – given that Blackstone’s objective is, simply, to fulfil the demands of the Socimi regime to list the company so that it can benefit from the tax advantages.

That point means that this placement is completely different from the one being finalised by Testa, another giant in the rental housing sector in Spain, which is expected to make its debut on the main stock market in June, with €1.834 billion in assets.

Plethora of Socimis

Since it acquired these homes from Sabadell, Blackstone has managed all of the flats through its own servicer company, Anticipa, the firm that is behind the day to day operations of all of the large residential acquisitions carried out by the fund.

By geographical distribution, both in terms of property value and rental income, the main markets in which the Socimi has a presence are Madrid, Alicante, Murcia and Valencia, in other words, regions where the former entity CAM – Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo – had its greatest presence before it was acquired by Sabadell and whose foreclosed assets comprise this portfolio.

Blackstone is competing head to head with Testa to be the largest landlord in Spain, but it is adopting a very different strategy given that whilst the firm in which Santander, BBVA, Acciona and Merlin all hold stakes is opting to concentrate the greatest number of homes possible in a single company, the US fund is playing its hand by backing several smaller vehicles.

For the time being, Blackstone has already listed Fidere, which owns more than 5,700 homes, many of which have some kind of public protection;  it also has Albirana Properties, owner of another 5,000 rental assets; and Corona Patrimonial. But, in addition, the fund has been creating other Socimis such as Tourmalet and Pegarena.

All of these companies are expected to continue expanding their portfolios with assets from Project Quasar, the portfolio that Blackstone acquired from Santander, and which contains a sizeable portfolio of homes from the former Banco Popular.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Blackstone & Santander Will Transfer 21,000 Of Popular’s Homes To Various Socimis

30 October 2017 – Cinco Días

The sale of the real estate assets proceeding from Popular to Blackstone is not over yet, but the strategy behind the operation is already very clear and will reinforce the US fund’s position as the largest homeowner in Spain. The American firm’s plan involves replicating its previous purchase of banking portfolios linked to real estate on a grand scale. Specifically, the fund will transfer a large part of these homes to several Socimis with the aim of renting them out. A small proportion, the lowest quality properties, will be put up for sale.

In August, Santander sold 51% of Popular’s real estate to Blackstone, together with the real estate management platform Aliseda, which it had previously repurchased from Värde and Kennedy Wilson. These assets (comprising homes, land, office and doubtful debt) were worth around €10,000 million, and so Blackstone will pay almost €5,100 million when the operation is finally closed at the beginning of 2018.

Of that transaction, Blackstone and Santander will manage around 80,000 assets through Aliseda. Of those, 30,000 correspond to homes from property developer loans, according to market sources. Now, it has been revealed that the strategy of the two partners involves transferring approximately 70%, in other words, almost 21,000 homes, to several of the US fund’s Socimis with the aim of putting them up for rent, explain sources in the sector (…).

Blackstone has already followed this strategy in the past. Its first major operation in Spain was the purchase of 40,000 mortgages from the now extinct Catalunya Caixa for €4,123 million in 2015. Next, it created the platform Anticipa Real Estate to manage those assets. Prior to the purchase of Popular’s real estate, it had already acquired around €7,000 million in these types of assets, of which 12,000 were homes.

To create the residential giant, the US firm began to create Socimis to which to transfer its properties for rent. The first of these companies was Albirana Properties, which made its debut on the Alternative Investment Market in March, with a market capitalisation of €170 million and 5,000 rental homes under management.

But that was just the beginning. Since then, Blackstone has created several more Socimis, such as Tourmalet, Torbel, Albirana II and Pegarena, according to the tool Insight View from Iberinform. Now, Blackstone will identify the best homes, put them up for rent and package them into several different Socimis.

Currently, Blackstone is involved in a detailed assessment process of the properties in order to proceed with their appraisal, according to sources in the sector, which will conclude with the completion of the operation during the first quarter next year. The other homes, those that will not be transferred to the Socimis, comprise around 9,000 units. They are the worst quality properties and will likely be put up for sale on the retail market.

Blackstone first entered the rental market with the purchase of homes from Madrid’s Municipal Housing Company in 2013, which it subsequently grouped into the Socimi Fidere, whose shares are also traded on the MAB and which has a market capitalisation of €268 million.

Blackstone, which is led by Claudio Boada as the CEO in Spain, is particularly active in the real estate sector in the country. Last week, it purchased the company HI Partners, the owner of 14 holiday hotels, from Sabadell for €630 million.

Original story: Cinco Días (by Alfonso Simón Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Blackstone’s Socimi Will Spend €25M On Corporate Operations

3 July 2017 – Eje Prime

Fidere, the social housing Socimi owned by the US fund Blackstone, is growing rapidly through acquisitions. Over the course of this year, the company will spend €25 million on the acquisition of Spanish companies dedicated to rental housing. In this way, Fidere will add new assets to its portfolio, according to explanations provided by market sources to EjePrime.

Fidere’s purpose is to acquire and manage residential rental assets in Spain. Since its incorporation onto the Alternative Investment Market (MAB) on 29 June 2015, the group has acquired 3,365 new residential units (as well as storerooms and garages) for rental in the Community of Madrid. As at 31 January 2017, the average occupancy rate of these residential units amounted to 92.9%.

With this declaration of intentions, Blackstone is going to continue adding assets in the Spanish market with the aim of leading the residential rental market in the country. With a portfolio of 12,000 homes under ownership in Spain, the fund has constituted several companies to implement its strategy after having invested €7,000 million in the country.

The fund, which owns the majority of its properties in Cataluña (followed by its portfolios in the Community of Madrid, the Community of Valencia and Andalucía) has decided to back the rental market in Spain in the face of changes in residential demand in the country, above all, amongst young people.

To carry out its plans, Blackstone has added three new Socimis to its portfolio of Socimis, which until now comprised Fidere alone. It now owns Albirana Properties, which has been trading on the MAB since March, Pegarena and Tourmalet (which have not debuted on the stock market yet) and the servicer Anticipa Real Estate (…).

Albirana Properties, for example, manages 5,000 homes, whilst Pegarena and Tourmalet, companies that have been constituted already, will start incorporating some of Blackstone’s portfolio in Spain. The fragmentation will allow these asset packages to be sold more easily in the future. Created in New York in 1985, Blackstone manages assets around the world worth €335,950 million.

Blackstone and its commitment to property

The fund, which is one of the largest private investment vehicles in the world, set a new milestone at the beginning of the month by managing to raise €7,800 million to launch its fifth fund specialising in real estate. The new instrument, classified as opportunistic by the firm itself, will operate under the name Blackstone Real Estate Partners Europe V (BREP Europe V).

The strategy that Blackstone adopts with these types of funds is to locate and acquire high-quality, well-located assets at significant discounts, to manage them appropriately and then sell them, after achieving the proposed objectives.

The Blackstone group, which founded its real estate arm in 1991, administrates around €91,000 million in capital from various investors through its real estate subsidiary. Its real estate portfolio includes offices, retail premises, hotels, industrial assets and residential properties in the US, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Original story: Eje Prime (by C. Pareja)

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

Blackstone To Buy €790M Of Property Loans From CaixaBank

22 July 2015 – Bloomberg

Blackstone Group LP is buying a portfolio of bad loans with a nominal value of €790 million ($858 million) from Spanish lender CaixaBank SA, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

The debt is linked to newly completed residential units as well as land and homes under development, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the deal is not yet complete. The sale of the portfolio, known as Tourmalet, is expected to close at the end of the week, the people said.

Spanish banks are seeking to sell off bad real estate debt that has weighed on their balance sheets since the financial crisis sparked a property crash. Lenders foreclosed on more than 70,000 homes in 2014 with Andalusia, Cataluña and Valencia hit the hardest, according to data from the National Statistics Institute.

The assets backing the CaixaBank debt comprise 88% residential property, 9% land and 3% commercial property, according to a sales document obtained by Bloomberg News. The assets are mainly based in Andalusia, Madrid, Castilla La Mancha and Cataluña, according to the document.

Blackstone, which is run by billionaire Stephen Schwarzman (pictured above) has become the largest private equity real estate investor.

Spokesmen for Blackstone and CaixaBank declined to comment on the deal.

Original story: Bloomberg (by Sharon R Smyth)

Edited by: Carmel Drake