Bakers and Garrigues advise on Catalunya Banc’s €1.2bn sale to BBVA

Baker & McKenzie has advised state-owned Spanish lender Catalunya Banc on its sale to Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) for €1.2bn.

BBVA won the mandate to buy the bank in a competitive auction run by the Spanish Bank Resturucturing Fund (FROB), fending off rival bidders including Banco Santander and Caixabank.

As part of the sale, Catalunya Banc sold €6.4bn of mortgages to private equity giant Blackstone for about €3.6bn. That transaction was also overseen by FROB, taking the form of an auction process known as ‘Hercules’.  Completed on 17 July, the deal marks the largest-ever sale of a mortgage loan portfolio in Europe.

Baker & McKenzie advised Catalunya Banc and FROB on both transactions, led by Madrid-based M&A partner Enrique Carretero. He said: “The sheer volume of bidders demonstrates the faith international investors have in Spain’s economic recovery.”

Carretero was supported by a team including banking and finance partners Rosanna D’Onza and Rafael Bazán, tax partner Rodrigo Ogea, M&A partner Fernando Diaz and financial services partner Maria Gracia Rubio.

Garrigues advised BBVA on its acquisition, fielding managing partner Fernando Vives, corporate co-chief Alvaro López-Jorrin, Brussels head José Luis Buendía, EU and competition partner Susana Cabrera, and principal associate Arnau Tapias.

The Clifford Chance team advising Blackstone was led by its global real estate head Alfonso Benavides. He was assisted by real estate partner Guillermo Rodrigo, Eduardo Garcia and capital markets partner Jesús Quesada. Tax associates Laura Fernández, Norma Peña and Rafa Gimenez-Reyna supported. 

Background to this deal:

Baker & McKenzie has advised on a number of privatisations of bailed-out Spanish banks, thanks to its roles advising FROB as well as SAREB – the bad bank of the Spanish government. In 2013, it advised SAREB on the sale of its first pool of real estate assets to private equity house HIG Capital.

Garrigues has a longstanding relationship with BBVA, and formerly advised the bank on its acquisition of Unnim Banc after another competitive auction held by FROB back in 2012.

Clifford Chance has advised on a number of transactions for Blackstone in the last two years, particularly within the real estate sector. The magic circle firm’s Spanish offices have advised on several smaller deals in that time, thanks to an initial referral from Clifford Chance’s City outpost. Meanwhile, Blackstone continues to have close ties to firms including Blackstone and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.