Blackstone offers the rental properties of the former Catalunya Caixa for sale
The largest investor in the national real estate sector has once again pressed the sales button. Blackstone has decided to start the divestment process of the homes it acquired from the former Catalunya Caixa (an entity currently part of BBVA) and which it has grouped under the Albirana Properties umbrella.
This Social has commissioned the valuation of its assets so that, in September, it will take the transfer of part of its portfolio to an Extraordinary General Meeting, a perimeter that has yet to be defined, but which is expected to reach thousands of floors.
Blackstone, the largest buyer of Spanish brick, prepares a wave of massive sale
With a total portfolio of 10,878 assets, Albirana will concentrate this operation on assets that have already completed three years under its control, as this is the minimum time required by the Socimis regulations to maintain the properties in order to benefit from the special tax regime for these vehicles that are exempt from tax by companies.
Within this framework, the more than 5,000 homes with which the Social went public in March 2017, valued at 168 million then. Three years later, and with twice the assets, Albirana reaches 547 million euros. Catalonia is the main market, with a weight of 60%, followed by Madrid and Valencia; and the housing occupancy ratio barely exceeds 70%.
Although both Albirana and Anticipa, the manager of these apartments that are also owned by Blackstone, has declined to comment, the sources consulted by El Confidencial assure that the bulk of the divestment will be concentrated in Catalonia, a market that has been seen in recent times seriously punished by the regulations approved by the Generalitat, which favors the occupation and which has made many institutional investors take their heads. The same sources indicate that the portfolio for sale planned for the summer return would also include assets in the Valencian Community.
This divestment should be viewed from a more general perspective within Blackstone’s entire strategy for the Spanish market. For almost two years, the American giant has implemented a progressive divestment plan of the assets it acquired after the real estate crisis a decade ago, as has already been shown with operations such as the sale of the offices of the Social Corona or the three residential buildings that he transferred to Vivenio last summer, coming from Fire.
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This year, the fund wanted to have continued with this rhythm of divestments but the decree of the state of alarm, and the decision of the Generalitat to suspend the right of first refusal or withdrawal that it has on the homes from foreclosures, forced the fund to take the brake.
Albina was built, to a large extent, on the houses that were being foreclosed on due to the unpaid mortgages of the old Catalunya Caixa. Loans that still made headlines a year ago, when Blackstone sold problem loans worth more than 1,000 million to CarVal, all of them from Proyecto Hércules, the name with which the sale of Catalunya Caixa’s subprime mortgages was baptized in 2014. When the fund bought this portfolio (effectively in 2015), it grouped more than 100,000 ‘subprime’ mortgages (delinquent or refinanced) worth 5,670 million euros and with an 80% exposure to Catalonia.
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