31 July 2017 – Voz Pópuli
The sale of Liberbank’s real estate arm will be closed in a matter of days. And the candidate that is most likely to acquire Mihabitans (the name of its property arm) is Haya Real Estate, the platform owned by Cerberus in Spain, according to financial sources consulted by Vozpópuli.
Haya Real Estate and Liberbank are now holding advanced conversations to close an agreement for €85 million after the servicer’s final offer proved to be more convincing than Aktua’s, the former real estate arm of Banesto, which is now owned by the Norwegian group Lindorff. Both the Asturian bank and Haya Real Estate declined to comment.
The agreement includes the sale of Mihabitans to Haya Real Estate as well as an agreement to manage Liberbank’s foreclosed assets for a period of seven years.
Manuel Menéndez, CEO at the bank, explained on Thursday, that the aim of the sale of Mihabitans is to accelerate the divestment of foreclosed assets with a more professional style of management and the generation of business through an agreement for Liberbank to grant new mortgages.
This pact is key for the entity given that it sends a clear message to the market that its objective is to remain independent, despite the pressure from the regulators for a new wave of mergers between the medium-sized savings banks.
Road to independence
Liberbank is doing its utmost this year to convince the market that it is in no way similar to Popular, after the stock market pain it suffered following the rescue of the entity purchased by Santander. After controlling the decline in its share price through a veto on short positions, the group led by Menéndez presented its results on Thursday, which showed that its default rate had registered a decrease of more than 1.5 p.p. to 11.3%, representing an improvement on the objectives announced.
One of the trends to reduce the default rate has been to execute many of the delinquent loans, and so the bank has taken ownership of the corresponding properties. For that reasons, despite registering a record quarter in terms of house sales (€75 million), the volume of foreclosed properties remained stable: €3,115 million.
Liberbank wants to set some ambitious sales targets as part of the agreement that it is now close to signing with Haya Real Estate: the sale of €410 million this year; €625 million next year; and €850 million in 2019. Sales of wholesale portfolios will also be included in this strategy.
Haya Real Estate groups together the management of entities such as Bankia (formerly Bankia Habitat), Cajamar and Sareb. It earned €31 million last year and has almost 700 employees. Two years ago, it negotiated a possible merger with Solvia, owned by Sabadell, and at the end of last year, it evaluated the purchase of Unicaja Banco’s real estate arm.
Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Jorge Zuloaga)
Translation: Carmel Drake