UniCredit Said to Sell Up to $1.1 Billion of HVB Properties

(Bloomberg) -- UniCredit SpA is seeking to sell as much as 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) of German real-estate assets as part of a plan to boost capital, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Italian bank is working with real estate company Cushman & Wakefield on the sale of office buildings and bank branches belonging to its HypoVereinsbank unit, the people said, asking not to be identified as the process is private. The sale involves about 30 assets and formally begins next month, they said.

“This is good news as they need to improve capital ratios that are a bit low given their Turkish exposure,” said Stefano Girola a portfolio manager at Alicanto Capital SGR in Milan. “The sale of German real estate now would be wise” as prices are near peak levels, he said.

Surprise Writedown

UniCredit Chief Executive Officer Jean Pierre Mustier is taking steps to shore up capital after announcing a surprise 850 million-euro ($971 million) writedown on the bank’s Turkish unit and provisions related to U.S. sanctions last month. Disposals of specific assets, including real estate and additional cost cutting, were among measures Mustier announced in November to protect capital.

UniCredit declined to comment, while Cushman & Wakefield wasn’t immediately available to comment.

The bank is in the final stages of a turnaround focused on cleaning up bad loans, cutting jobs and strengthening the balance sheet to pursue a target of 4.7 billion euros of annual net income in 2019. The target “did not take into account the capital gains which should come with disposal of some real estate assets,” Mustier told analysts in November.

UniCredit is also seeking to sell its Austrian credit-card business, people with knowledge of the matter have said. HSBC Holdings Plc, which is working with the firm on the sale of Vienna-based Card Complete Service Bank AG, is sending information about the business to possible buyers, the people said earlier this month.

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