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2 Canadian REITs to combine; Wyndham to exit European rental biz

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.

Canadian connection

* Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust agreed to buy out Canadian REIT in a deal valued at up to C$1.65 billion in cash, plus the issuance of units. The parties said the combination would form Canada's largest REIT with a roughly C$16 billion enterprise value.

On a conference call, Choice Properties President and CEO John Morrison said the proposed merger with Canadian REIT should allow the Loblaw-controlled retail REIT to speed up its mixed-use development pipeline, add office and industrial space, and further diversify its tenant mix. The deal is likely to close in the second quarter.

Transatlantic transaction

* Wyndham Worldwide Corp. is poised to sell its vacation rental business in Europe to private equity firm Platinum Equity in a roughly $1.3 billion transaction. The hotel operator first disclosed its plan to explore strategic options for its European rental brands in August 2017 as part of its planned spinoff. In its latest earnings report, Wyndham said it classified the European business as a discontinued operation during the fourth quarter of 2017 and declared a higher first-quarter dividend of 66 cents per share.

SNL Image
1400 Broadway in New York City
Source: Empire State Realty Trust Inc.

New York minutes

* Vornado Realty Trust disclosed that it does not plan to keep its stake ownership in the 666 Fifth Ave. office condominium in New York City, which it jointly owns with the Kushner family, on a long-term basis.

* Empire State Realty Trust Inc. signed a long-term lease with Uber Technologies Inc. for the entire 12th floor of the office REIT's 1400 Broadway building in New York City. The space will be the ride-hailing company's second office in Manhattan.

A rolling Blackstone

* Fresh off its roughly $1.8 billion acquisition of a U.S. industrial portfolio, Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust Inc. reportedly spent $151 million to buy three additional warehouses in the Chicago area. The Blackstone Group LP unit acquired the three facilities from a JPMorgan Chase & Co.-managed fund, Crain's Chicago Business reported, citing property records.

Separately, Bloomberg reported that the private equity giant is in early stages of negotiations for Anbang Insurance Group Co. Ltd.'s assets, which might include the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York. Hilton President and CEO Christopher Nassetta, however, said on an earnings call that the sale of the hotel, where his company is in the early years of a 100-year lease, is unlikely at this time.

Blackstone also announced that its global head of real estate, Jonathan Gray, will assume the roles of president and COO of the company from Tony James, who will transition to executive vice chairman.

Data hub

* Equinix Inc. struck an $800 million debt-and-cash deal to acquire the Infomart Dallas building in Texas, including its operations and tenants, from ASB Real Estate Investments and increased its quarterly cash dividend. For the 2017 full year, the company and its fellow data center REIT Digital Realty Trust Inc. recorded year-over-year gains of 33% and 17% in aggregate AFFO and FFO, respectively. Both companies offered earnings projections for the full year 2018.

* CoreSite Realty Corp. is looking to widen its footprint in downtown Chicago with an up to $210 million enterprise-class data center project on a newly acquired land parcel. The data center-focused REIT expects to kick off development of the facility as early as the end of 2018.

Earnings Call Coverage

S&P Global Market Intelligence reporters tuned in to conference calls hosted by some of the larger players in the real estate sector, as the 2017 fourth-quarter earnings continued to roll in.

Most of DDR's hurricane-battered tenant base in Puerto Rico is paying rent again

Anbang not planning Waldorf Astoria sale, Hilton CEO says

Corporate optimism could boost 2018 business travel, Hilton CEO says

Kimco's Puerto Rico assets back in business, execs say

Vornado's Roth forecasts 'flattish' year in view of retail softness

National Retail Properties brushes off tenant troubles

HCP execs say dividend is safe, transition is progressing

Featured during the week on S&P Global Market Intelligence

Data Dispatch: More than 14,000 REIT properties near Amazon's Central and Western HQ2 finalists

Data Dispatch: US REITs raise $5.8B through capital offerings in January

Data Dispatch: 17 North American real estate companies increase their dividends through Feb. 1