Banco Sabadell Plans IPO for Spanish Real Estate Unit Solvia

Banco Sabadell SA, Spain’s fifth-biggest bank, plans to sell shares in its Solvia unit as it taps appetite from investors for real-estate assets.

Sabadell isn’t planning to carry out the initial public offering immediately, said a spokesman for the bank, confirming comments made by Chairman Josep Oliu in Barcelona yesterday.

Sabadell sold 3.1 billion euros ($4.3 billion) of real estate last year, a 40 percent increase from 2012, as it offloads assets that piled up on its balance sheet during Spain’s property slump. Sabadell’s plan to sell shares in Solvia on the stock market instead of seeking a buyer is different from the strategy of banks such as Banco Santander SA, which sold their real-estate servicing operations to book gains and bolster capital.

“The fact that Sabadell is contemplating this shows how much market sentiment is changing towards Spain and real estate,” said Javier Bernat, an analyst at Beka Finance SV in Madrid in a phone interview.

Sabadell sold 18,501 properties last year, a 34 percent increase from 2012, the bank said in January.

Santander last year agreed to sell Altamira, its unit that handles loan recoveries and markets real estate, to Apollo Global Management LLC. Banco Popular Espanol SA agreed in November to sell the management of its real estate to Varde Partners and Kennedy Wilson Holdings Inc.

(Updates with analyst comment from 4th paragraph.)
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