Spain’s Banks Race Against the Clock to Sell Off Their Problem RE Assets

28 May 2018 – Eje Prime

The banks are facing a new record. The entities have cut their problem assets almost in half over the last four years, but now they are trying to get rid of thousands of properties in record time to keep the supervisor happy, along with investors. The Bank of Spain warned just this week that the volume of impaired assets continues to be high, given that foreclosed assets amount to €58 billion and doubtful loans still amount to almost €100 billion, something that concerns the ECB and penalises the sector on the stock market.

Specifically, Spanish banks’ problem assets amounted to €152 billion at the end of 2017, a very high volume, but 46% lower than the €280 billion registered as at December 2013.

In addition to the cost that maintaining these assets on the balance sheet has for entities, they also prevent them from allocating resources to other activities more in keeping with the banking sector that would generate higher returns, which worsens the problems of returns in the sector especially at a time of very low interest rates.

In 2017, in the face of clear pressure on the banks to significantly reduce their problem assets, the Spanish market resurfaced to account for approximately 50% of the European market for the sale of problem assets, recall the experts.

The announcement by Cerberus of its purchase of 80% of BBVA’s problem assets and the acquisition by Blackstone of 51% of Aliseda and of Popular’s non-performing assets clearly marked a turning point.

And currently, taking into account the portfolios that are up for sale and the forecasts for the reduction in non-performing assets in the plans of many Spanish banks, a high volume of transactions is also expected in 2018.

The entities are on the case

Sabadell is planning to decrease its non-performing assets by €2 billion per year until 2020, although, depending on investor appetite and the agreements with the Deposit Guarantee Fund (FGD), that figure may rise considerably in 2018, explain sources at Funcas.

Meanwhile, in its strategic plan for 2018-2020, Bankia is forecasting the sale of €2.9 billion problem assets per year, even though the entity got rid of much of its real estate hangover with the creation of Sareb, the bad bank.

The placement on the market of this significant volume of assets is not only limited to the large entities; it is also involving smaller firms such as Ibercaja and Liberbank, which are also planning to divest assets.

In the case of the former, its plans involve cutting its problem assets in half between now and 2020, which translates into a decrease of around €600 million per year, whilst Liberbank is looking at reductions of €900 million per year until 2020.

For 2018, Santander has set itself the objective of €6 billion, whilst Sareb is aiming for €3 billion, which shows the real commitment that the entities have to cleaning up their balance sheets and to keeping the supervisor, and the markets, happy. Now they just need to deliver.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

RE Experts Warn That The Cataluña Situation Is Seriously Affecting Investment

17 October 2017 – Expansión

The Spanish Association of Real Estate Consulting Companies (ACI) says that the “serious” situation currently being experienced in Cataluña is affecting the normal evolution of the real estate market since investors are fearful.

The Spanish association of real estate consultancy firms, comprising domestic and international companies alike, such as CBRE, Aguirre Newman/Savills, Cushman & Wakefield, JLL, Knight Frank and BNP Paribas, warned yesterday of the consequences that the secessionist challenge is having in the real estate market.

Specifically, the association chaired by Ricardo Martí Fluxá said that “the serious situation” in Cataluña at the moment, is affecting the strong performance of the Spanish real estate market as a whole. Until the third quarter, the volume of investment in real estate assets was registering record figures, at €10,300 million, up by 58% compared to the same period a year earlier. “The latest developments are seriously affecting the normal operation of investment activity and the evolution of our real estate market”, they warned.

For this reason, the real estate consultancy firms have called for respect for the laws, appealing to the Generalitat to abide by the order established in the Constitution. “Our association joins the large number of companies, institutions and entities that are calling on the Generalitat to comply with the provisions of our laws and abide by the order established in the Constitution”, they said in a statement.

The warning from the large real estate consultancy firms follows a statement made just a few days ago by the CEO of Lar España, one of the five large Socimis whose shares trade on the (main) Spanish stock exchange.

The CEO of the listed company, Miguel Pereda, said that if his firm had to make an investment in Cataluña today, it would “probably” not go ahead with it, in light of the political situation regarding independence.

Meanwhile, on 5 October, the ratings agency Moody’s issued a report warning that the “growing political tension” may negatively affect the credits interests of the Socimis Merlin and Colonial, given that the entities hold 13 % and 19% of their respective portfolios in Cataluña.

Indeed, Colonial is one of the listed companies that has moved its corporate headquarters from Barcelona to Madrid because of the secessionist challenge posted by the Catalan Generalitat.

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Moody’s Warns Of Higher Default Risk For Restructured Mortgages

11 November 2016 – Expansión

Yesterday, the ratings agency Moody’s issued a warning about mortgages that are being restructured, which represents an increasingly larger pool, thanks to the economic recovery and the proliferation of real estate management platforms. In the entity’s opinion, several variables may lead to an increase in the risk profile of these assets. Specifically, restructured mortgages are more risky when: the mortgage term is extended; grace periods are granted for the payment of interest or the repayment of the principal; interest charges are reduced; and other modifications are made.

This warning comes just a few weeks after Blackstone created the first securitisation fund in Europe containing restructured loans, amounting to €265 million. It created the fund using mortgages that it purchased from Catalunya Banc at the beginning of 2015. Nevertheless, it only included loans that borrowers have been repaying normally, without any help, for more than 37 months.

Analysts at Moody’s consider that foreign residents in Spain are twice as likely to default on their loans than Spaniards. “A defaulted payment by a foreigner on a Spanish loan does not have any impact on his credit history in his country of origin; and clearly, that reduces the incentive for him to seek solutions to repay his debt”, say the experts. In turn, the risk of default is 30% higher for borrowers who have restructured mortgages over secondary residences compared with those who have restructured mortgages over primary residences.

Moody’s has also conducted analysis by geographic region and in this sense, its results are clear: borrowers who have restructured mortgages for homes on the coast are almost twice as likely to default than borrowers with restructured mortgages in Madrid.

The default rate

Meanwhile, Axesor forecasts that the default rate for loans to families and companies will close the year at 8.96%, which would bring it below the 9% threshold for the first time since May 2012. The balance of doubtful debts amounted to €116,613 million in August, which represented a YoY decrease of 17.58%, and that figure is expected to continue to fall at a double-digit pace, which means that we could close the year with a doubtful debt balance of around €110,051 million.

Original story: Expansión (by D.B.)

Translation: Carmel Drake