The report also identified a group of finalists, including current owner New York-based Clarion Partners; Denver-based REIT Aimco; a joint venture between Charleston, S.C.-based Greystar and Newport Beach, Calif.-based Pimco; pension fund CalPERS and Boston-based GID Investments of Boston; and a team of DRA Advisors of New York and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.
“Most of the buyers are similar to the old Clarion joint venture—a real estate manager plus an institutional investor,” said Ben Thypin, director of market analysis at New York-based Real Capital Analytics.
Two of the most interesting names of the list may have been Greystar and Aimco. After years of simplifying its story for investors by pairing down partnerships and exiting affordable housing, many were surprising to see Aimco listed as a potential bidder. Gables’ buyer would be getting a third-party management group in the mix, which is a business most REITs don’t seem interested in.
“Historically Aimco has not been involved in development and I would not expect them to put much value in Gables platform,” says Rod Petrik, a real estate research analyst at Baltimore-based Stifel Nicolaus and Co.
Shortly after the Real Estate Alert report, Newport Beach, Calif.,-based Green Street Advisors put out a note saying that while Aimco participated in the process, it is not a finalist for Gables.
The inclusion of Greystar, which already completed one blockbuster deal in 2014, shouldn’t surprise apartment owners. As shown by its purchase of Dallas-based Riverstone Residential, Greystar wants to grow its management platform and, given its spot as the No. 4 developer on this year's Top 25 Developers list, it would seem to covet the Gables development pipeline. It’s unknown what a Greystar purchase would mean for Gables' highly respected management team. A Greystar spokesperson declined to comment on the Real Estate Alert story. Green Street did say Pimco “isn’t known to have previously pursued large, high-profile portfolios.”
Green Street said the participation of CalPERS and GID was “consistent with industry expectations.” After being involved in a series of big deals over the past decade, DRA Advisors of New York should also be a familiar name to apartment owners. The company recently sold 20,000 units in a $1.8 billion deal, though it is usually focused on the Class B market, according to Green Street. And, the inclusion of Clarion shouldn’t be a surprise either.
“We all know that Clarion would like to keep it if they can but it’s going to get expensive,” one observer told Multifamily Executive this Fall.
Green Street expressed some surprise about the companies not listed by Real Estate Alert as finalists. From the REIT group, Houston based-Camden would have made the most sense as potential buyer, but the fact that its shares are trading at a 5 percent discount to NAV makes it more difficult to take down Gables.
Brookfield and Blackstone were also notably absent from the report.
“Blackstone’s venture into the core-plus space and Brookfield’s desire to grow its multifamily platform should cause these two private equity giants to be considered as players in nearly any multifamily portfolio deal,” Green Street said in the report.