Grupo Santander SA, one of Europe's largest banks, is getting ready to launch a Web site on which it will sell as many as 950 new homes to the public at a 20% discount to market prices. That comes after the Spanish bank sold 350 homes to its own employees on the same terms.
Santander's fire sale isn't entirely voluntary. The Spanish bank picked up some 1,300 homes last year when developers to whom it had lent money defaulted on their loans and the bank agreed to swap debt for the property. At the end of 2008, Santander, including Banesto, its Spanish retail bank, had property valued at some €3.8 billion ($5 billion) on its balance sheet, most of that originating from debt-for-equity swaps.
Wall Street Journal