|MADRID - The family that controls Metrovacesa, Spains largest property developer, is in "advanced" talks with creditors which, if successful, would result in the banks taking a 54 percent stake in the company. The Sanahuja family, owner of more than 80 percent of Metrovacesa, announced the talks in a regulatory filing yesterday.
The family owes about 4 billion euros ($5.1 billion) to lenders including Banco Santander and Banco Espanol de Credito. "The banks have had no choice but to become shareholders to prevent the biggest investor from seeking protection from creditors," said Juan Jose Figares, chief analyst at Link Securities in Madrid. "That would have created major problems for Metrovacesa."
Spanish real-estate companies have lost a total of 8 billion euros in market value this year as property sales dried up amid an economic slowdown, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. As a result, more than 150 Spanish real estate companies, including Martinsa-Fadesa, have sought creditor protection.
On Nov. 28, Metrovacesa offered to sell its largest single asset, the 45-story London headquarters of HSBC Holdings, back to the bank for 838 million pounds ($1.25 billion). The Madrid-based company accumulated debt of 7.1 billion euros acquiring properties across Europe.
Metrovacesa was suspended from trading in Madrid yesterday.