Spanish realtor files for banruptcy protection

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A Spanish property company, Noriega, said on Wednesday it had filed for protection from its creditors, the latest group in the sector to take such a move since the end the country's real estate boom.

Noriega, the second-biggest real estate firm in the southern region of Andalucia, filed the request with the commerical court in the city of Cordoba, which accepted it, a company spokesman told AFP.

Spanish media said Noriega, which is owned by the Sanchez-Ramade group, had debts of 1.162 billion euros (1.60 billion dollars) and owed money to about 900 sub-contrators.

It also has a number of unfinished projects, including a luxury complex of some 1,000 homes east of Malaga.

Several major Spanish property groups have filed for protection since the country's once-booming real estate market collapse in 2008.

They include Martinsa, which had 7.0 billion euros in debts, Habitat which had 2.8 billion, and Sacresa, with 1.8 billion.

The bursting of the property bubble plunged the Spanish economy, Europe's fifth-largest, into its worst recession in decades, from which it only emerged this year, and has sent the unemployment rate soaring to more than 20 percent.

Spain's National Statistic Institute said Wednesday that property sales fell 4.1 percent in September from the same month last year, after eight consecutive months of increases.

© 2010 AFP

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