MADRID Dec 19 Real estate firm Metrovacesa
on Wednesday said its majority shareholders had agreed
to launch a tender offer to buy all outstanding shares and
delist the company, in the latest blow for Spain's deeply
troubled property sector.
Spanish banks Santander, BBVA, Sabadell
and Popular set the offer price at 2.28 euros
per share, a 175 percent premium to the current price.
Another shareholder, Bankia, a Spanish bank that
was nationalised in May and is not in a position to join the
offer, has committed to hold onto its shares, while Banesto
will sell them to its parent company Santander before
Altogether, the six banks currently own 95.6 percent of
Metrovacesa, which they obtained four years ago in exchange for
its massive debt. The delisting will cost them 99 billion euros
Metrovacesa is one of the biggest real estate firms that
expanded during Spain's decade-long property boom and ran into
trouble when the bubble burst five years ago.
Trading in Metrovacesa shares was suspended at 1610 GMT.
Before the suspension, the shares were up 15 percent, at 0.83
euro, a shadow of the 54 euros they reached in 2006. The
securities regulator CNMV said shares would begin trading again
at 0730 GMT on Thursday.
Metrovacesa faces difficulty in selling its property assets
to cut its 5.1 billion euros of debt because it will have to
compete with a so-called bad bank that Spain set up this week.
The "bad bank" will receive about 80 billion euros in
distressed real estate assets from Spanish banks to sell them
off over the next few years at steep discounts.
Metrovacesa, which reported in June assets worth 7.32
billion euros, is the latest of a group of Spanish real estate
firms and building companies that have disappeared or had to
drastically adjust business to survive since the start of the
Competitors Reyal Urbis and Martinsa Fadesa are in
bankruptcy proceedings, while Colonial has lost more than 99
percent of its value on the stock market and is racing to sell
assets and cut its debt.