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Spanish Bad Bank Sareb Sells First Property Portfolio

Spain’s bad bank agreed to sell a majority stake in a group of almost 1,000 homes known as Project Bull to private-equity firm H.I.G. Capital LLC, its first divestment of a real estate portfolio. The properties are valued at about 100 million euros ($133 million).

Sareb, set up last year to absorb the souring property assets of eight lenders, will keep a share of future gains from the portfolio, which includes homes in Madrid, Valencia, Andalucia, Murcia and the Canary Islands, storage space and garages, the bank said in a statement after the market closed yesterday.

Spanish officials set up Sareb as part of their strategy to clear the backlog of foreclosed homes and bad loans that are clogging up the banking system after the collapse of the country’s construction boom.

Sareb has taken on about 200,000 assets. This includes 107,000 properties, 76,000 of which are empty homes, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos told Congress in March. The bad bank plans to sell assets with a value of 1.5 billion euros this year, he said.

H.I.G. in May raised more than $1 billion for a loan fund that will buy European company debt. The Miami-based firm is seeking to capitalize on the bank deleveraging process in Europe, which has made it harder for smaller businesses to gain access to capital, H.I.G. founders Sami Mnaymneh and Tony Tamer said in a statement at the time.

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