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Squatters’ Real-Estate Speculation Fighters’ Rights!

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Last year, Tony James argued that private-equity firms should fight their bad reputations with a rebranding effort. But “clarity equity” just never took off, because, you know, it was really stupid.

Now, James’ firm may have another rebranding crisis on their hands after buying up 40,000 foreclosed properties in Barcelona. Because Italian ecological economics professors who aren’t paying for the six-bedroom, two-swimming pool houses to protest Spanish banks’ roles in the country’s economic crisis (also: to live in six-bedroom, two-swimming pool houses in Barcelona gratis) aren’t just going to stop doing so because Tony James says they can’t anymore because these nice people who will pay rent would like to.

The arrival of Blackstone Group LP presents a "great opportunity," Mr. Cattaneo says, because occupying a Blackstone-owned home is a way for squatters to "further legitimate their fight against speculation…."

That deal already has brought headaches. Foreclosures by Blackstone have triggered protests by renters and the Platform for Mortgage Victims, an advocacy group known by its Spanish acronym PAH.

Now PAH is watching Blackstone's latest purchase. It says Spain's squatters have the right to target Blackstone-owned homes since the bank that issued the loans was nationalized.

"These homes belong to the people," not Blackstone, says Maka Suárez, a PAH spokeswoman.

Squatters Welcome Blackstone’s Spanish Property Play [WSJ]


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