European banks need to sell €1.5 trillion (Dh7.6 trillion) in assets because of the region\'s sovereign-debt crisis, said Leon Black, head of private-equity firm Apollo Global Management. \"There are going to be great sales and they have already started,\" Black said Friday at an investment forum in Sochi, a resort town in southern Russia. He said the sales will happen during the next several years. US Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner made his first appearance at a regular meeting of European Union finance ministers and central bankers Friday to urge them to find a solution to their sovereign debt crisis. Government debt, together with high unemployment and a weak housing market are pushing the region into a recession, Black said. Concern over sovereign debt levels in Greece, Portugal, Spain and possibly Italy will drive banks to unload whole companies, real-estate loans and non-performing debt, according to Black. Those assets would give investors \"extraordinary opportunities\" to diversify away from sovereign debt, he said, adding that Apollo would be interested in having Russia as a co-investor on some of the assets. Lone Star Funds, the Fort Worth, Texas-based private-equity fund, last month collaborated with JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo to buy Anglo Irish Bank\'s $9.65 billion (Dh35 billion) portfolio of US real estate loans. Blackstone Group was a final bidder for at least a portion of the loans.