June 7, 2014 / 10:26 AM / in 4 years

Spain's Metrovacesa agrees sale of Gecina stake

PARIS/MADRID, June 7 (Reuters) - Spanish builder Metrovacesa said it agreed to sell its 27 percent stake in French peer Gecina to a group of investors as it unwinds a costly acquisition made during Spain’s housing boom in an effort to pay down debt.

The buyers - Norges Bank, Credit Agricole Assurances, U.S. fund Blackstone and Ivanhoe Cambridge - will pay 92 euros each for the 16.8 million shares, Metrovacesa said, implying a deal value of 1.55 billion euros ($2.11 billion).

Gecina shares closed up more than 4 percent at 110.95 euros on Friday. Metrovacesa said the stake sale price represented a 10 percent discount to net asset value.

The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of September, Metrovacesa said in a statement late on Friday, provided “certain conditions” were fulfilled relating to the Spanish group’s financial restructuring.

Gecina welcomed the agreement, saying in a statement that it would “make it possible to continue putting in place a new shareholding structure”.

Blackstone and Canadian property manager Ivanhoe Cambridge, acting in concert, already held 23.03 percent of Gecina, while Credit Agricole Assurances had an 8.56 percent stake.

The builder’s troubles go back to its ambitious acquisition of Gecina in 2005, when it took out a 3.2 billion euro syndicated loan. Metrovacesa said last year it would consider selling the stake as it looked to pay down debt.

Blackstone and Ivanhoe Cambridge acquired their stake in January after a debt-for-equity swap. They had been looking at ways to avoid being legally obliged to launch a full takeover bid, newspaper Expansion has reported. ($1 = 0.7332 Euros) (Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Stephen Powell)

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