FCC, Bankia look to sell majority stake in Realia - sources

MADRID Wed Oct 9, 2013 6:40am EDT

A dog walks past a bank bus during its monthly call on customers in the village of Corral de Ayllon, central Spain, June 4, 2013. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

A dog walks past a bank bus during its monthly call on customers in the village of Corral de Ayllon, central Spain, June 4, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Sergio Perez

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MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish construction group FCC (FCC.MC) and lender Bankia (BKIA.MC) are looking to sell their controlling stake in property firm Realia (RLIA.MC) and are close to hiring an adviser, three people familiar with the situation said.

The builder and bailed-out lender together own nearly 58 percent of Realia, which has a market value of 200 million euros ($272 million) and is one of the few Spanish property groups to have so far survived a 2008 real estate crash.

FCC and Bankia declined to comment. FCC, which owns 30 percent of Realia, is under pressure to cut its debt. Bankia, which owns 27.65 percent, has to sell off corporate holdings as a condition of an 18 billion euro rescue with European funds last year, after it was nearly felled by the property slump.

The firms want to work side by side in the sale using one adviser, hoping potential buyers will be more interested in a controlling stake, the sources said. They added that an investment bank was likely to be chosen for the task next week.

Realia's portfolio of offices and shopping centers in Spain and Paris, which includes one of Madrid's landmark leaning towers in the business district, was likely to be one of the main draws for investors, one of the sources familiar with the situation said.

"It's going to be complicated, Realia has a complex structure, and investors really want the best buildings, not the rest of the company, which has hardly any equity value," the source said, on condition of anonymity.

Realia had 2.2 billion euros of debt at the end of 2012 and in July reached a deal to extend a 847 million euro syndicated loan to June 2016 as part of a plan to restructure debt and avoid insolvency.

FCC, meanwhile, has committed to cut its debt to 5.2 billion euros by 2015 and is also looking to sell its concession and energy businesses. FCC's net debt stood at 6.7 billion euros at end-June, nearly four times its market capitalization.

Other property companies are also coming onto the market in Spain as interest in the country's real estate market from foreign investors picks up with some seeing house prices close to reaching bottom after a fall of around 40 percent since 2007.

U.S. investment firms Cerberus Capital Management and Centerbridge are among those picking up assets, while investment bankers said even sovereign wealth funds could be interested in Spanish property bargains.

Construction firm Sacyr put its real estate business Vallehermoso, which mostly holds undeveloped land, up for sale earlier this month, prepared to dispose it for a symbolic sum to rid itself of the unit's 1.2 billion euros of debt.

(Reporting by Sarah White and Sonya Dowsett; Editing by Clare Kane and Mark Potter)

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