Banco Popular sells 620 million euros in loans to Blackstone, Apollo: Reuters

Spain’s Banco Popular (POP.MC) has sold 620 million euros ($660.98 million) of non-performing property loans to U.S. asset managers Apollo (APO.N) and Blackstone (BX.N), a bank spokesman said on Thursday.

The sale comes as Popular, Spain’s sixth largest by assets, presses on with its plan to reduce its toxic real estate portfolio by 15 billion euros by 2018, almost half its total exposure.

In December Popular said it would replace Chairman Angel Ron after shareholders rebelled over his slow progress in cleaning up the bank’s property loan book.

Apollo and Blackstone, a regular investor in the Spanish property market since house prices slumped during the country’s financial crisis, bought assets worth 220 million euros and 400 million euros respectively, the spokesman said.

Popular’s share price has been the worst performer among constituents of the European Stoxx Europe 600 banking sector index <0#.SX7P> in the last six months and is down 60 percent in the past year.

Bankers and analysts have said the bank could be a takeover target for its larger rivals, who, spurred on by shrinking margins are looking to consolidate..

In June Popular said its provisions on its non-performing loans could lead to overall losses of 2 billion euros in 2016. It is expected to publish full-year results in either late January or early February.