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Blackstone nears $20B record for RE fund; Spirit MTA steps up strategic plan

S&P Global Market Intelligence offers our top picks of U.S. real estate news stories and more published throughout the week. Please note that some entries may have links to third-party sources that may require a subscription.

Fund fervor

* U.S. investment giant Blackstone Group LP is on track to amass $20 billion for its latest global opportunistic real estate fund, with the projected fundraising expected to bring the firm's actual buying power to roughly $60 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Blackstone Real Estate Partners IX LP fund is expected to funnel the funds toward assets including distribution centers near population centers and moderately priced rental housing. The investment vehicle is expected to become the largest property fund yet, beating the Blackstone Real Estate Partners VIII fund, which raised $15.8 billion in 2015.

* The Beacon Capital Strategic Partners VIII fund became the largest fund of Boston-based private equity real estate firm Beacon Capital Partners LLC since the global financial crisis. The real estate fund attracted $1.58 billion, with a further $220 million in co-investment equity, PERE News reported.

The California State Teachers' Retirement System and the State of Wisconsin Investment Board allocated $300 million and $100 million, respectively, to the vehicle, which reportedly held a final close in December 2018.

* SkyBridge Capital II LLC is searching for a new partner for its planned $3 billion opportunity zone fund, after parting ways with EJF Capital LLC.

SkyBridge-EJF Opportunity Zone REIT was established in late 2018 with the purpose of operating as a REIT targeting real estate projects of all sizes, The Real Deal reported, citing SkyBridge founder Anthony Scaramucci.

The opportunity zones program offers tax advantages to investors in designated low-income neighborhoods.

Thinking caps on

* Spirit MTA REIT's board of trustees is poised to expedite its strategic plan after tenant Specialty Retail Shops Holding Corp., or ShopKo Stores, filed for bankruptcy Jan. 16. The landlord had received $43.2 million in annualized contractual rent from ShopKo Stores, as of Sept. 30, 2018, but does not expect to receive any additional cash flow from the tenant moving forward.

Advisers appointed by the board will consider a number of strategic alternatives, including the sale or possible merger of the retail REIT.

* Rich Uncles Real Estate Investment Trust I's board of trust managers tapped Cushman & Wakefield as a financial adviser to help it assess strategic options, including off-loading its entire portfolio through either a disposal, merger or another type of deal.

The portfolio includes 21 properties, consisting of four office assets, 11 retail properties and six industrial facilities.

Save the date

* Shareholders of diversified real estate investment trusts Griffin Capital Essential Asset REIT Inc. and Griffin Capital Essential Asset REIT II Inc. are set to vote on the planned merger of the two REITs at respective annual meetings March 13. The merger would create a $4.75 billion self-managed REIT.

Signed sealed and delivered

* Real estate investment manager LaSalle Investment Management Inc., part of Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., settled its purchase of a majority of Latitude Management Real Estate Investors Inc.'s $1.2 billion debt fund business. The firm integrated the commercial real estate lending business within its North America Private Equity platform, having renamed it LaSalle Mortgage Real Estate Investors.

Selling spree

* Hospitality Properties Trust will divest 20 travel centers across 15 states to tenant TravelCenters of America LLC for $308.2 million and agreed to amend the terms of the existing leases with the latter.

The hotel REIT expects a $160.0 million gain from the disposals, with proceeds to be used to repay debt and finance general business purposes.

* New York-based Tishman Speyer Properties LP is expected to attract bids of between $600 million and $650 million for its Brickyard and Collective office campuses in Los Angeles' Playa Vista neighborhood.

The properties total 620,720 square feet.

Featured during the week on S&P Global Market Intelligence

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