Spain’s Banco Popular has sold two debt portfolios to investment funds Apollo and Blackstone for a combined amount of €620m, sources close to the operation told Spanish news agency EFE.
The move is part of Popular’s plan to cut €15bn of bad debts by 2018. The bank’s business plan includes the so-called Project Sunrise, a “bad bank” in which Banco Popular is planning to segregate properties amounting to €6bn.
Banco Popular has one of the largest exposures amongst the country’s main lenders to Spain’s troubled real estate sector.
In December last year, due to rising pressure on the bank’s current chairman Angel Ron to resign over his plan to reduce the bank’s property portfolio, the Spanish sixth largest bank called for a extraordinary board meeting to name JP Morgan Chase executive Emilio Saracho as the new chairman, who is expected to replace Ron in the first quarter of 2017.
Last year, Banco Popular announced its plan to cut around 300 bank branches as part of a restructuring plan that would affect up to a fifth of its almost 15,000 employees. More recently, in January, the bank merged its operations of Spain and Portugal to integrate the Portuguese banking activity in Spain.