NBG enters exclusive talks with Bain on €1.5b Project Icon

Bain Capital outbids rival Fortress Investment Group in the sale of the Project Icon package encompassing 7,300 loans to 1,500 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and micro enterprises with a principal of €1.5 bn.

Bain, which was shortlisted last October together with Apollo Global Management, Centerbridge Partners, Fortress Investment Group, is considered favourite with its offer allowing vendor, Greek lender National Bank of Greece (NBG) to avoid recording losses as a result of the sale.

Fortress is said to have put forward a much lower binding offer earlier this month.

NBG, advised by Morgan Stanley, launched the sale in September last year. The package is said to be of a lower quality compared to previous NPL packages for sale and is expected to sell for less than 25% of nominal value.

The portfolio includes €1 bn borrowed by 137 SMEs and the balance by micro enterprises. The loans are secured against 6,000 property assets valued at €1.1 bn, mostly consisting of commercial real estate (€800 mln) mostly located in Athens (27%) and Macedonia (23%).

About 55% of borrowers have ceased operations. NBG’s total exposure amounts to €2.5 bn.

Earlier this year NBG closed the sale of Project Symbol to a consortium of Centerbridge Partners and Elliott Advisors. The sale involved around 13,000 SME loans with a face value of €1.6 bn secured against 7,900 assets – largely commercial properties with a value of around €700 mln, as well as €400 mln of residential assets and plots of land.

This very granular portfolio is believed to have traded for €250 mln, or about 26% of the nominal value.

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