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As shopping centre and high street landlords survey the wreckage left by coronavirus, warehouse owners are facing a different problem: how to deal with record demand.

The pandemic has pushed more consumers online, prompting a rush for warehouse space, from small “last-mile” delivery sites near city centres to cavernous “big-box” distribution centres

Amazon has led the charge. The company, which has added an eye-watering $600bn to its market capitalisation this year as sales have jumped, is inking lease agreements on mammoth warehouses around the world. It has committed to opening 33 “fulfilment centres” in the US this year, an additional 35m square feet spread from Atlanta to Arizona.

The US ecommerce giant is also the incoming tenant of a 2.3m square foot warehouse on London’s outskirts, according to people with knowledge of that deal. Amazon’s sprawling expansion is one reason why investors are sensing opportunity.

The take-up of UK logistics space hit record levels in the second quarter of the year, according to property group CBRE — despite the lockdown.

“Following a quiet few months after coronavirus hit, investors are back with a vengeance”, said David Sleath, chief executive of Segro, the dominant logistics company in the UK and a sizeable participant in Europe which last week said it had lifted first-half profit. “If you are a global institutional investor and you want exposure to commercial real estate, this is an attractive place to be.”

A decade ago, ecommerce accounted for 6.7 per cent of all retail sales in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics. By February, the month before the outbreak, the figure was 19 per cent. By May it had hit 33 per cent. In April, 27 per cent of purchases were made online in the US, according to the commerce department and Bank of America.

Until recently, the most desirable property to own was a traditional mall. Malls had a natural moat, being difficult to develop and serving a catchment area

“That share was likely to diminish as stores reopened,” cautioned Mr Sleath, “but incoming tenants were looking to crystallise that temporary spike into increased capacity”.

“There’s a wall of cash coming into our sector,” said Marcus de Minckwitz, an investment adviser on European logistics at Savills property.

Every extra £1bn spent online means the addition of almost 900,000 square feet of logistics space, according to CBRE. New York-listed Prologis, the world’s largest warehouse company, estimates that 1.2m sq ft of space is needed for every $1bn in ecommerce sales in the US.

Gains from ecommerce tenants far outweigh the losses from bricks-and-mortar retailers, according to CBRE, one reason why Blackstone, the world’s largest private property owner, has described logistics as its “highest conviction” sector.

“Until recently, the most desirable property to own was a traditional mall. Malls had a natural moat, being difficult to develop and serving a catchment area . . . Logistics for a long time was viewed as the other end of the spectrum: not so exciting and more easily replicable,” said Ken Caplan, global co-head of Blackstone Real Estate. The rise of ecommerce had shifted that whole dynamic.”

In June 2010, Segro’s market capitalisation was less than £2bn, according to data from S&P Global. Now at £11.8bn, it is comfortably the UK’s largest listed property group; UK shopping centre owner Intu, meanwhile, has collapsed. The value of US peer Prologis has climbed a fifth this year to roughly $77.5bn.

Dozens of shopping centres in the US are being turned into industrial sites, according to CBRE, which says Covid-19 will accelerate the trend. This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon was in talks with mall owner Simon Property to repurpose department stores as distribution hubs.

Thanks to the ecommerce boom, CBRE predicts there will be demand for 333m sq ft of new space in the US by 2022 — treble its previous estimate — and expects rents to grow by about 6 per cent a year. Amazon is not the only eager tenant. Fashion retailers with a limited online presence have desperately sought space to park stock they could not shift in the pandemic.

“They already have warehouses full of clothes, then next season’s come in and they can’t stack it,” according to one UK property agent.

“But while some warehouse owners had suffered hits to rental income from retail tenants in particular, investors bidding for new sites were achieving few discounts,” said Mr de Minckwitz.

“Some indiscriminate investors were likely to get caught out, warned Mr Sleath. “There will be more retail fatalities, that will mean empty warehousing as well as shopping centres. It’s very important to think about where you place your money.”

Asset manager PGIM bought five German logistics sites last month and said it was optimistic that demand would only grow. Private equity firms are piling in too: as well as Blackstone, Meyer Bergman plans to raise €750m to invest in Europe.

“Investors needing long and strong sources of income, such as sovereign wealth funds and European pension funds, were also attracted by the sector,” said James Dunlop, a fund manager at Tritax Big Box.

“But some might come unstuck,” cautioned Adrian Benedict, head of real estate solutions at Fidelity. “There’s a flood of capital from retail to logistics. Inevitably, with every crisis, you see those poorly considered deals at the end of the cycle are the ones you really regret.”

 

 

Source: SFBJ

Warehouse giant Prologis is purchasing its rival Liberty Property Trust for $12.6 billion, creating a massive new player in the industrial real estate business.

Prologis aims to use the acquisition to bolster its presence in the United States amid a boom in e-commerce, according to Reuters. The company cited markets including New Jersey, Southern California and Chicago as places where the Liberty acquisition would help it establish a stronger foothold.

The deal will likely close during the first quarter of next year and help the firms save about $120 million. Prologis also plans to sell about $3.5 billion worth of its assets.

 

Source:  The Real Deal

 

The ink isn’t dry on Blackstone Group’s $18 billion buy of a U.S. warehouse portfolio, and it’s already negotiating to sell part of it.

The company, which finished its transition into a corporation this month, is drumming up interest from potential buyers for pieces of the GLP Pte portfolio, Bloomberg reported. Prologis is in private discussions to buy one such portfolio, valued at $1 billion.

Blackstone’s $18.7 billion deal for the Singaporean company’s 179 million-square-foot warehouse portfolio is one of the largest industrial real estate deals ever.

Selling non-core or non-strategic pieces of a recently required purchase isn’t uncommon. Blackstone applied the same strategy in 2007 when it sold off parts of its $40 billion acquisition of Equity Office Properties Trust.

On the whole, the warehouse sector has seen little supply, high demand and high prices, with available industrial and logistics real estate rising slightly for the first time in 34 quarters, according to a CBRE report. Demand for warehouse and distribution reached an 18-year high in 2018.

Large owners are optimistic that there will continue to be institutional investment in industrial real estate. As Prologis negotiates for a piece of Blackstone’s new holdings, it’s also in advanced talks to buy another $4 billion portfolio from Black Creek Group which spans 37.6 million square feet.

Colony Capital is weighing the sale of its $5 billion industrial in holdings on the heels of selling another warehouse portfolio for $104.6 million.

 

Source: The Real Deal

Prologis just sold a portfolio of properties in Broward and Palm Beach counties to Chicago-based Equity Office for more than $110 million, property records show.

The portfolio includes industrial buildings in Delray Beach, Mangonia Park, Hollywood, Dania Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach and Coconut Creek. The deal was financed with an $83.5 million loan from Wells Fargo.

Equity Office, which is owned by the Blackstone Group, also bought properties in Seminole and Miami-Dade counties, as well as Illinois and Wisconsin. The sales in Miami-Dade County have not yet cleared records. Prologis and Equity Office were not immediately available to comment.

Records show the Blackstone affiliate picked up an industrial complex at 430 South Congress Avenue for $9.5 million and an industrial site at 1335 West 53rd Street for $4.6 million.

In Broward, industrial complexes at 3601 and 3613 North 29th Avenue in Hollywood sold for $23.5 million; properties at 3700 North 29th Avenue, 3401 North 29th Avenue and 5555 Angler Avenue in Dania Beach sold for $14.6 million; buildings at 3600 Northwest 35th Avenue, and 5535 and 5545 Northwest 35th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale closed for $12.1 million; and the warehouse complexes at 2800 North Andrew Avenue in Pompano Beach and 4801 Johnson Road in Coconut Creek sold for a combined $39.7 million.

The properties were originally owned by KTR Capital Partners, which was acquired by Prologis and Norway’s sovereign wealth fund in 2015 for $5.9 billion.

Equity Office owns a portfolio of more than 50 million square feet of office space across the country, according to its website. Blackstone acquired its assets in a $39 billion leveraged buyout in 2007.

 

Source: The Real Deal