Troubled regional lender PacWest sells $2.6 billion loans at discount

One of the lenders trying to survive the regional banking crisis in the United States, PacWest Bancorp, announced on Monday that it has agreed to sell a $2.6 billion portfolio of real estate construction loans at a discount to strengthen its balance sheet.

The agreement, which gave the California-focused bank breathing room to deal with a flight of deposits that followed the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and other regional peers over the past two months, saw PacWest’s shares rise 15% on the transaction news.

Since the beginning of the local banking crisis on March 8, PacWest’s market value has decreased by 75%. It initially lost 16.9% of its overall deposit base and has been working to recoup part of it.

PacWest sold Kennedy-Wilson (NYSE:KW) Holdings Inc. 74 real estate development loans with an outstanding amount of $2.6 billion for $2.4 billion, a $200 million reduction, according to a regulatory filing on Monday.

Kennedy-Wilson stated that it would also take on the loans’ prospective funding commitments totalling $2.7 billion and six more real estate construction loans with a combined value of nearly $363 million, subject to PacWest-secured approvals.

PacWest will have to pay Kennedy-Wilson a fee equal to 0.15% of the total commitments of the loans, according to the filing.

Currently, the average floating interest rate on the loans is 8.4%, significantly higher than the portfolio of fixed-rate loans that PacWest has, assembled when interest rates were much lower. Due to the fluctuating interest rates, PacWest could sell the real estate construction loans at a slight loss rather than a rise in interest rates, reflecting a drop in the value of the underlying real estate assets.

“We believe the decline in risk-weighted assets should offset the loss (from the sale of the loans at a discount), which should result in modest improvement in regulatory capital ratios,” Wedbush analysts wrote in a note.

PacWest said that the transaction is expected to close in multiple tranches during the second quarter and early part of the third quarter.

The Los Angeles-based lender has additionally stated that it is considering selling its $2.7 billion portfolio of lender finance loans, which it plans to finish by the end of next month.

According to Gary Tenner, managing director of D.A. Davidson & Co., “it relieves the bank from the funding side as they dispose off these loans – they won’t have to use either extensive deposits or borrowings to fund that part of the portfolio.”

PacWest had stated in May that it was in discussions regarding strategic options with prospective investors and partners. To increase the bank’s liquidity, it claimed earlier this month that it had posted extra collateral to the American Federal Reserve.

Using some of its assets as collateral, PacWest borrowed $1.4 billion from investment firm Atlas (NYSE:ATCO) Partners SP in March, but that sum has not been enough to cover the bank’s entire liquidity requirements.