Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Real Deal: Forest City expected to bring partners in early; not sure they'll give up 70%, as with Greenland

From the Real Deal, Will Forest City be less development-heavy in its REIT avatar? Company is slated to convert from C-Corp Jan. 1:
In terms of limiting risk, Forest City [Enterprises] may look to limit its exposure by using joint venture structures on most of its future transactions, similar to its recent tie-up with China-based Greenland Group, experts said. “There is a perception that REITs aren’t developing and that’s not necessarily true,” [analyst Sheila] McGrath said. “The main difference is that I think we’ll see Forest City bring in partners earlier in the development process in order to reduce the required equity investment and to mitigate risk.”
Indeed, as Forest City Enterprises CEO Bob O'Brien said this past April, the "impairment," or initial paper loss on the Atlantic Yards project, "spotlights two of the hard lessons we've learned coming out of the recession. We need to control land rather than own it, prior to being ready to go vertical, and we need a strong capital partner up front for a project of this magnitude.”

That said, I'm not so sure the deals will be similar to that with Greenland. 

After all, Greenland bought 70% of the project going forward, excepting the Barclays Center and B2 modular tower. Forest City typically has sold 49% of projects (such as malls or residential rental buildings) after getting them going, allowing them to keep control.
They may sell their share earlier or get a partner up front. But surely giving up control, as with the Greenland deal, is not their goal.

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