Spanish investors in Gecina file for bankruptcy

Wed Oct 3, 2012 8:02am EDT
 
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By Carlos Ruano

MADRID (Reuters) - Two Spanish investment firms that own 31 percent of French property company Gecina GFCP.PA have filed one of the biggest bankruptcy actions in Spanish history after a bank refused to refinance a 1.6 billion euro ($2.1 billion) loan.

Alteco and MAG Import said in a statement on Wednesday that they were up to date with their payments on the syndicated loan, and the refinancing effort had been supported by other banks involved.

The uncertainty over the fate of the firms' stake in Gecina, which has a market capitalization of 5 billion euros, knocked the French company's shares down 4 percent to 77.5 euros.

Spanish banks have already written off hundreds of millions of euros in losses on soured real estate investments after a property market crash in 2008 and are now waiting for rescue funds from Europe.

The banks with the highest exposure to the syndicated loan are Popular (POP.MC: Quote), Bankia BKIA.MC, NCG, France's Natixis and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L: Quote), sources said.

One source said Natixis had balked at refinancing the loan.

The bank had no immediate comment.

Many businesses related to the property and construction sectors, once the main drivers of the Spanish economy, crumbled after the market crashed. Others have relied on bank refinancing to stay afloat.   Continued...