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Blackstone offers sweetener as tries to sell $1.2 billion of Spanish properties

(This October 6 story corrects date of Santander buying Banco Popular to 2017 from 2016; removes name of spokesman)

MADRID (Reuters) - Investment giant Blackstone BX.N is offering a sweetener to buyers as it tries to speed up the sale of 8,400 properties in Spain in the teeth of the country's deepest recession on record.

Two Blackstone units, Aliseda and Anticipa, said on Tuesday they would reimburse buyers up to one tenth of the sale price if their property dropped more than a tenth in value in the three months after a deal is sealed.

“We detected the current context was generating uncertainty for buyers, and wanted to provide them with security and send a message of confidence in the Spanish real estate market,” said an Aliseda spokesman.

Blackstone bought the real estate portfolio, known as “Quasar”, in August 2017 from Santander, Spain’s biggest lender, which had acquired Quasar following the collapse of its previous owner Banco Popular earlier that year.

Aliseda took control of the portfolio and placed it on sale in 2018, but many properties remain on the market as the COVID-19 pandemic plunges Spain into a deep recession.

The portfolio being advertised is valued at 1.035 billion euros ($1.22 billion), with 640 million being handled by Aliseda, which is selling 5,700 properties.

Hola Pisos - Anticipa’s commercial outfit - is selling 2,700 properties, valued at 395 million.

To decide whether a buyer qualifies for the 10% reimbursement, Blackstone will consult the price index compiled by Spain’s infrastructure ministry for each province.

Aliseda’s spokesman said the offer did not imply a prediction prices would fall in coming months, and that his company did not make forecasts.

There are, however, signs that Spain’s economic paralysis has hurt real estate.

The presence of funds as major property owners in Spain is politically controversial, with the current administration decreeing in March a four-month moratorium on rent for tenants whose landlords owned eight or more properties.

($1 = 0.8480 euros)

Reporting by Clara-Laeila Laudette; additional reporting by Inti Landauro; writing by Clara-Laeila Laudette; editing by John O’Donnell and Mark Potter