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Wells Fargo, LNR Looking to Sell $2 Billion in Distressed Assets

One bank, one special servicer, both offering $1 billion in distressed real estate.  Wells Fargo & Company and LNR Property Corporation are hunting for buyers for $1 billion each of distressed commercial real estate assets and loans.  San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest commercial real estate lender, is soliciting bids on $500 million to $1 billion worth of office and hotels.  LNR, the nation’s largest CBMS special servicer, is looking for buyers for approximately $1 billion worth of defaulted loans.

“The availability of capital and better prices than a year ago are driving sellers to move things off their balance sheets,” says Matthew Anderson, managing director at research firm Foresight Analytics.  “Depending on how the auction goes, you may see more of this.”  According to Anderson, banks and special servicers currently are holding approximately $185 billion in distressed loans.  Of those, Wells Fargo had $12.9 billion in non-performing loans in the 1st quarter.  LNR is the special servicer for $24 billion in delinquent assets, according to Bloomberg.

Wells Fargo and LNR were left holding real estate debt once the global credit crisis and recession sent commercial values down a whopping 42 percent from their October of 2007 high.  The majority – as much as 60 percent — of the assets that Wells Fargo is selling were inherited when the bank purchased Wachovia Corporation in October 2008.  If Wells Fargo and LNR can sell the properties, the move would represent an improved market for distressed assets, according to Ben Thypin, an analyst with Real Capital Analytics, Inc.

“We’re certainly aggressive in terms of liquidating the portfolio,” said David Hoyt, who heads Wells Fargo’s wholesale banking arm.  “At the moment, there is a lot of liquidity in the market to resolve problems.”

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