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WeWork mulls blank-check company merger; EQT to buy Exeter Property for $1.87B

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WeWork mulls blank-check company merger; EQT to buy Exeter Property for $1.87B

S&P Global Market Intelligence offers our top picks of real estate news stories and more published throughout the week.

U.S. real estate investment trusts began reporting fourth-quarter 2020 earnings with prints from Prologis Inc., Boston Properties Inc. and SL Green Realty Corp., among others.

Prologis, the logistics giant, reported 11.6% year-over-year growth in core funds from operations on a per-share basis and issued 2021 guidance above consensus expectations, in a report that Jefferies analyst Jonathan Petersen called "good news all around."

The office REITs, meanwhile, posted spottier results that pointed to continuing headwinds in the sector. Boston Properties logged a year-over-year FFO decline and issued guidance below consensus estimates, while SL Green registered a 23.8% fall in total revenues.

REIT earnings reports are scheduled to continue in the coming week, with releases from Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc., AvalonBay Communities Inc., Essex Property Trust Inc. and others.

Public eye

* Coworking giant WeWork Cos. Inc. is in merger talks with a blank-check company in a deal that could value The We Co. unit at about $10 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

WeWork has lately been weighing merger offers from a Bow Capital-affiliated blank-check company and at least one other undisclosed acquisition company, according to the report, though the coworking giant might still decide to continue as a private company.

* Homebuilding company Dream Finders Homes Inc. raised gross proceeds of about $133.5 million from its recently completed IPO of 11,040,000 class A common shares.

Top order

* President Joe Biden recently ordered the Justice Department to end its reliance on private prison companies and not to renew contracts, a move seen as part of a broader social justice mandate aimed at ending discriminatory policies. The directive led to a sharp decline in the shares of prominent private prison REITs CoreCivic Inc. and GEO Group Inc.

Deal zone

* Swedish private equity firm EQT AB (publ) agreed to acquire Exeter Property Group LLC for $1.87 billion on a cash-and-debt-free basis. The firm will issue about $800 million of new EQT shares to fund the acquisition partially. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter.

* Communications REIT Crown Castle International Corp. is leasing 15,000 new small cells to Verizon Communications Inc. over the next four years in a bid to support the latter's 5G ultra wideband and 5G deployment plans across the U.S.

* Blackstone Group Inc. unit Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust Inc. purchased an approximately 60% interest in two industrial portfolios primarily in California and Seattle with a gross value of $1.6 billion. The portfolios consist of 71 properties spanning 9.5 million square feet in the West Coast markets.

Call for action

* Activist investor Land & Buildings Investment Management LLC criticized Monmouth Real Estate Investment Corp.'s recently disclosed process to explore strategic alternatives, calling it "flawed," and nominated four director candidates for election to the industrial REIT's board.

Around the world

* Brookfield Asset Management Inc.-backed Brookfield India Real Estate Trust is looking to raise as much as $522 million in an India IPO, Bloomberg News reported, citing terms of the deal obtained by the news outlet.

* Oxford Properties Group Inc. agreed to acquire European investment and asset manager M7 Real Estate Ltd. in a deal that will help Oxford in its plan to invest £3 billion in the European multi-let industrial and urban logistics market. The transaction is set to close during the first half of 2021, subject to regulatory approval.

* Ronan Group and Colony Capital Inc. agreed to sell a majority stake in the European headquarters of Facebook Inc. and Salesforce.com Inc. that is under development in Dublin for more than €1 billion to an undisclosed buyer, The Irish Times reported.

* Blackstone tapped JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley to schedule non-deal road shows for the potential listing of its logistics portfolio on the Australian stock exchange, The Australian Financial Review's Street Talk reported. Concurrently, JLL and Eastdil Secured are said to be exploring options for the sale of the same A$3.5 billion portfolio.

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