Blackstone in exclusive talks with Banco Popular on property portfolio: Reuters

MADRID (Reuters) – U.S. asset manager Blackstone (BX.N) has entered into exclusive talks with Banco Popular over the sale of a majority stake in the rescued Spanish lender’s property portfolio, Popular said in a statement on Monday.

Online newspaper Vozpopuli first reported exclusive talks between Popular and Blackstone earlier on Monday, citing unnamed financial sources, and added that competing bids from funds Lone Star and Apollo had failed.

Popular was bought by Banco Santander (SAN.MC), the euro zone’s largest bank by market capitalization, on June 7 for a symbolic price of 1 euro ($1.2) after European authorities stepped in to prevent its collapse.

Popular’s rescue was unveiled as the European Central Bank announced the lender was set to be wound down, echoing a banking crash some five years ago that cost Spain 40 billion euros. The bailout was the first use of a stricter European Union regime to deal with failing banks.

Separately, Spanish online newspaper El Confidencial reported on Monday, without citing sources, that Blackstone has agreed to acquire 51 percent of Popular’s portfolio, valued overall at around 30 billion euros.

The portfolio includes repossessed assets worth an estimated 18 billion euros and 12 billion euros of non-performing loans.

Santander CEO Jose Antonio Alvarez on Friday said the bank was evaluating offers but could not make a decision on the assets’ sale ahead of European competition authorities’ final approval for its takeover.

Blackstone declined to comment on the El Confidencial report.