Blackstone to list Spanish rent-controlled housing unit: Reuters

(Reuters) Fidere Patrimonio, a real estate investment trust owned by private equity group Blackstone (BX.N) that groups units of rent-controlled housing in Madrid and Barcelona, will list its shares on Spain’s alternative stock market MAB next week, the bourse said on Wednesday.

City and regional governments sold thousands of rent-controlled flats – subsidized to make them affordable to lower- income families – to private investors during Spain’s economic crisis, causing huge controversy. Thousands of Spain’s poor now depend for their homes on the generosity of private equity.

The announcement of the listing by Blackstone comes only days after Madrid city council changed hands. Under leftist Mayoress Manuela Carmena, it has vowed to reverse the tide of housing evictions during the economic crisis.

Carmena, a former judge, also said she would review whether the sale of property was lawful. She plans to set up an office to act as intermediary between banks and families threatened with eviction.

Fidere, which owns 2,688 properties in Madrid and Barcelona with a value of 212 million euros, said the listing seeks to provide potential liquidity and transparency.

But documents filed by Fidere to the bourse spoke of a reputational risk as rent-controlled housing changes to private from public management.

The documents also said tenants will be required to show they are solvent by presenting their most recent wage statements and providing proof that rents are no higher than 40 percent of their income, as well as not being on any creditor blacklist.

Amnesty International released a report earlier this week which said that almost 600,000 eviction proceedings had begun in Spain since 2008.

Just 1 percent of housing on offer is subsidized as part of housing programmes, Amnesty said, compared with 32 percent in the Netherlands, 23 percent in Austria and 18 percent in the United Kingdom.