Blackstone wins majority stake in Banco Popular's €30bn property portfolio

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Blackstone has bought a majority stake in a €30bn real estate portfolio owned by troubled Spanish lender Banco Popular.

The announcement was made on the same day that EU regulators approved a rescue takeover of the bank by Santander.

Blackstone said it beat two other bidders to own a 51% stake in the portfolio and all of Banco Popular’s real estate management company Aliseda.

It said it submitted “the best offer in terms of both its value and management plan”.

The deal was struck for Blackstone Real Estate Partners Europe V, one of the New York-headquartered firm’s latest opportunistic funds.

A new company has been created to hold the assets and management business, removing them from Banco Popular’s balance sheet. The bank will retain a 49% stake in the new entity.

The Spanish assets, including properties, loans and tax assets, but excluding Aliseda, is approximately €10bn, in line with the valuation and provisions made by Santander during its acquisition of Banco Popular.

Jon Gray, global head of real estate at Blackstone, said: “This significant investment reflects our continued confidence in the robust recovery of the Spanish economy.

“We are delighted to partner with Santander to maximise the long-term value of the portfolio.” 

The chairman of Santander Spain, Rodrigo Echenique, said: “The agreement significantly reduces our real estate exposures and further strengthens our balance sheet, allowing us to focus all our efforts on supporting customers.

“It is an important step in the integration process and demonstrates the quality of our execution capabilities.

”The interest generated in this transaction among international investors is also a clear sign of confidence in the Spanish economy and we are grateful to all bidders who participated.”

The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018.

The process has been supervised by Pedro Pablo Villasante, independent director of Banco Popular. Morgan Stanley has been adviser to the seller.

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