Commerzbank sells British property loans
Commerzbank, Germany's second-biggest bank, said on Monday it had agreed to sell a huge portfolio of commercial real estate loans held in Britain to US bank Wells Fargo and Lone Star Funds.
The transaction covers commercial real estate loans totalling €5.0 billion ($6.5 billion) as well as the entire operational business of Hypothekenbank Frankfurt in Britain.
"Commerzbank today signed an agreement on the sale of its commercial real estate financing portfolio in Britain to a consortium comprising Wells Fargo and Lone Star Funds," the bank said in a statement.
"This is one of the largest transactions in commercial real estate loans in Europe of the past years," the statement said.
The sale price was not disclosed, but Commerzbank did reveal the transaction would result in charges of some €179 million - around 3.5 percent of the price, the Handelsblatt newspaper reported.
"With this transaction, we are accepting a charge on earnings in 2013, to take out risk costs in the coming years," said Commerzbank's chief financial officer Stephan Engels.
The deal would help Commerzbank reduce its non-core assets business faster than planned, as well as its holdings of non-performing real estate loans.
However, given the related charges, the transaction would have "no notable impact" on the bank's key Core Tier 1 equity levels, it said.
Investors nevertheless cheered the news and Commerzbank shares were the biggest gainers on the Frankfurt stock exchange, rising by 3.79 percent in an only slightly firmer market.