Bloomberg News

Goldman Sachs Among Buyers of Troubled Popular Loan Batch

September 29, 2011

(Updates with details on parties and information from statement beginning in sixth paragraph.)

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Popular Inc., the biggest bank in Puerto Rico, said it sold a portfolio of distressed property loans to a joint venture controlled by an entity created by firms including Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

The non-performing loans were sold for 45.3 percent of their $381 million unpaid principal balance as of the end of March, or $172.6 million, Popular said today in a statement issued by Business Wire. Popular will own 24.9 percent of the joint venture, which will be controlled by a limited liability company, the San Juan-based lender said. The entity’s members are Goldman Sachs, Caribbean Property Group LLC and East Rock Capital LLC, Teruca Rullan of Popular said in an e-mailed statement.

Popular Chief Executive Officer Richard Carrion, a director with the New York Federal Reserve, is selling the loans as he tries to lead the bank’s recovery from the housing-market slump. The bank posted $1.9 billion in losses for the three years ended 2009 and has yet to repay a $935 million cash injection provided by taxpayers in 2008. Carrion had called off previous talks to sell loans to the Caribbean Property Group in May after they failed to agree on terms.

“This transaction is an important step, one of several initiatives the corporation is pursuing to continue to derisk its balance sheet,” Carrion said in the statement.

Michael DuVally, a spokesman for New York-based Goldman Sachs, declined to elaborate on the firm’s links to Caribbean Property Group or East Rock Capital.

Caribbean Property Group

Caribbean Property Group, based in New York, runs a $472 million real estate fund, according to its website. The fund is sponsored in part by Whitehall Funds, a Goldman Sachs property fund, according to the website. Mark Lipschutz, CEO of Caribbean Property Group, didn’t return a phone call or e-mail sent after regular business hours.

An affiliate of Caribbean Property Group will service the purchased loans, Popular said. The servicer will enter into a subservicing agreement with Archon Group LP, a Goldman Sachs unit, according to the statement.

Popular will extend a $68.5 million advance facility to the joint venture to cover unfunded commitments as well as complete construction projects, the bank said in the statement. Popular will also provide a $20 million line of credit to the venture.

--Editors: Dan Reichl, David Scheer

To contact the reporters on this story: Donal Griffin in New York at dgriffin10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Scheer at dscheer@bloomberg.net.


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