US private equity group Bain Capital is in the front-running to acquire some €200 mln of property assets from Italian lender Banca Popolare di Vicenza (BPVI) in administration.
The deal would take the form of a share transaction involving Immobiliare Stampa, the property arm of BPVI which was put into administration in June 2017.
The package, which was put up for sale in May last year through advisor Vitale & Co. Real Estate, includes over 200 buildings including two trophy assets - BPVI's offices on Milan’s central Via Turati and on Rome’s Via del Tritone - as well as an office in Vicenza, in the Northern Veneto region and other buildings in the Veneto, Tuscany and Sicily regions.
The portfolio no longer includes the head office of bank Fineco in Milan’s Piazzale Loreto area which has already been sold to its occupier for a price of €70 mln.
A portion of the assets will be leased back to lender Intesa San Paolo which has become a minority shareholder in Immobiliare Stampa after taking over the performing part of the BPVI business two years ago.
First direct buy
Market experts say Bain is paying a price ‘in line with today’s market values’, although the €270 mln portfolio of Immobiliare Stampa was originally valued at €400 mln.
If concluded, the deal would represent Bain Capital’s first direct property buy in Italy.
Last month Bain also emerged as the exclusive bidder on a portfolio of 10 Italian assets managed by French investment giant Amundi. The office properties - worth between €150-€200 mln - include the headquarters of mobile phone giant Wind in Rome, and Henkel Group's head office in Milan.
Held by Amundi Italia and Amundi Europa funds, the properties are in vehicles expiring at the end of the year and are expected to sell well below acquisition cost largely as a result of the high vacancy rate - 30% across the two funds - as well as the assets’ secondary locations. Lazard is advising Amundi on the deal.
Bain has grown agressively in Italy in recent years, swooping in particular on a number of toxic portfolios. The US giant entered the country's non-performing loans market in 2017 with the acquisition of Heta Asset Resolution Italia (Harit), the bad bank of Hypo Alpe-Adria Bank, including assets worth €570 mln.
Earlier this year it bought a portfolio of Unlikely-to-Pay (UTP) corporate loans, known as Project Valery, from Crédit Agricole. The transaction, with a total book value of €450 mln, is expected to provide Bain with access ‘to high-quality real estate collateral’, according to Fabio Longo, managing director and head of Bain Capital Credit’s European Non-Performing Loan & Real Estate business.