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New Plan for €50 billion in Spanish Property

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Spain’s “bad bank” is implementing a new strategy to market and sell the €50 billion in real estate under its control, which could create more opportunities for international investors.

Sareb, which was set up in 2012 to handle the failing property deals made by Spain’s banks, will hire four investment firms in the next few months to market and sell property, according to published reports. Sareb is currently using nine Spanish banks to market the real estate. Sareb paid about €200 million to the banks last year, according to published reports.

But critics charge the arrangement is inefficient and a conflict of interest for the banks, which are also trying to market their own properties. Sareb hopes the new marketing deals will cut expenses, which helped push Sareb to a €261 million loss in 2013.

“From the nine (servicers) we have now it could end up being about four,” an unnamed Sareb executive told Reuters.”We already have funds approaching us … we wanted to bring in some competition.”

Sareb controls about 200,000 real-estate assets. It is selling homes at a pace of 60 a day, up from 25 a day last year, the Wall Street Journal reports. But Sareb officials warn that the pace could slow as market conditions change.

About 80 percent of the assets under Sareb’s control are loans to developers, the unnamed executive told the paper. The rest are residential homes, land and commercial properties. As part of its new push, Sareb plans to finish several half-built projects, according to published reports.

The Sareb executive told Reuters a tender for the marketing contracts will go out in the next few months and the contracts awarded by September.
The news will likely be welcomed by investment funds, who are growing more active in Spain. In recent months there has been a surge in deals in the property sector, including moves by funds to buy the real estate service operations of banks looking to raise capital.

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