Foreclosed property sales at Spain's Bankia up 19 pct in 2012

MADRID Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:00am EST

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MADRID Jan 29 (Reuters) - The real estate arm of bailed-out Spanish lender Bankia said it raised 550 million euros ($740.35 million) in 2012 from selling foreclosed properties, 19 percent more than in 2011, as tax breaks fuelled a year-end rush.

Bankia Habitat said on Tuesday it had independently sold 1,100 such properties in December alone, 70 percent more than in November, and just before the bank had to move 22.3 billion euros of rotten real estate assets to a so-called bad bank.

The bad bank, known as Sareb, was set up as a condition for four of Spain's nationalised lenders, including Bankia, to receive 37 billion euros in European aid last year, after they were hit by a property crash dating back to 2008.

Sareb took the foreclosed assets at an average discount of just over 63 percent. Bankia Habitat said it had sold properties in 2012 with price reductions of between 40 and 60 percent.

The group said that the year-end sales were also helped by tax breaks on housing purchases which ran out in 2013.

Sareb also did not take foreclosed properties valued at less than 100,000 euros, or property loans of under 250,000 euros, assets which remain in Bankia Habitat, within the Bankia group.

Bankia Habitat added that in total it had raised 1.6 billion euros from property related sales in 2012, including buildings from developers, and land. In all, Bankia Habitat shed 14,600 individual real estate assets, with the bulk of buildings sold in Madrid and the region of Valencia. ($1 = 0.7429 euros) (Reporting by Jesus Aguado and Sarah White; Editing by Louise Heavens)

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