More Than A Dozen Firms Aided Largest Q1 Real Estate Deals

By Andrew McIntyre
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Law360 (April 3, 2020, 7:12 PM EDT) -- Allen & Gledhill and WongPartnership were among more than a dozen law firms that helped with the 10 largest first-quarter real estate mergers and acquisitions.

It was an extremely unusual quarter for real estate deals, since because of the COVID-19 pandemic, none of the top 10 were announced in March, and only two of the top 10 deals have closed.

Allen & Gledhill LLP and WongPartnership LLP landed work on the largest deal of the quarter, a roughly $8 billion tie-up of Singapore firms CapitaLand Mall Trust and CapitaLand Commercial Trust, while Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP, Latham & Watkins LLP, Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, Honigman LLP, Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson LLP were among more than a dozen other law firms that helped with the largest deals of the quarter.

Dealogic's data account for transactions that were announced in the first quarter and have subsequently closed or remain on track to close. New deals have been few and far between in March given the coronavirus pandemic, and all of the largest deals of the quarter were signed before March 1.

The largest deal of the year saw CapitaLand Mall Trust pay slightly more than $8 billion for CapitaLand Commercial Trust, with Allen & Gledhill guiding CMT's manager and WongPartnership representing the manager of CCT.

The combined company is expected to have a market value of 16.8 billion Singapore dollars ($11.66 billion), according to an announcement from the companies in January.

And the combined company, to be called CapitaLand Integrated Commercial Trust, is expected to be the third-largest Asia-Pacific real estate investment trust, the companies said in January.

Meanwhile, the second-largest deal of the quarter saw mall REIT Simon Property Group Inc. pay roughly $7.1 billion for competitor Taubman Centers Inc., a deal on which six law firms helped. Dealogic's figure includes debt.

Paul Weiss and Latham guided Simon on the deal, while Wachtell and Honigman assisted Taubman, Kirkland represented the special committee of the Taubman board of directors and Fried Frank counseled Taubman financial adviser Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC.

Latham's team included Julian Kleindorfer, Mark Gerstein, Jason Morelli, Lewis Kneib, Owen Alexander, Andrew Tremble, Victoria Wolfe, Ana O'Brien, Janet Hsu, David Taub, Michelle Carpenter, Daniel Gocek, Robert Buday, Zonia Medina, Jeffrey Tochner, Pelin Serpin and Sara Orr, while Paul Weiss' Robert Schumer and Michael Vogel also helped Simon.

Wachtell's Adam Emmerich, Viktor Sapezhnikov, Oliver Board, Sara Spanbock, Kyle Diamond, Robin Panovka, Ilene Knable Gotts, Franco Castelli, Andrea Wahlquist, Erica Bonnett, William Savitt, Gregory Pessin, David White Jr., Jodi Schwartz and Liam Murphy assisted Taubman. Honigman's team included Joseph Aviv, Michael Ben, Gabrielle Sims White, Emily Johns, Martin Katz, Joel Krugel, Bruce Segal and Shawn Strand.

Kirkland's team helping the special committee included Eric Schiele, Michael Brueck, Marshall Shaffer, David Fox, David Perechocky, Brandon Nesfield, Sean Brownridge, Tal Maman, Michael Beinus, Meredith Levy, Amanda Milhet, Michael Krasnovsky, Julia Petty, Faye Whiston, Ross Leff, Ellen Jakovic, Jeffrey Ayer and Lauren Taylor.

Fried Frank's Philip Richter helped Goldman Sachs.

Coming in at No. 3 for the quarter was Hong Kong billionaire Peter Woo's roughly $6.2 billion deal to take property firm Wheelock & Co. Ltd. private.

Woo is buying the 32.58% of Wheelock he doesn't already own and is making the purchase using the company Admiral Power Holdings Ltd.

Counsel information for the transaction was not immediately available.

The fourth-largest deal of the quarter was a $3.6 billion purchase of Calgary, Canada-based Northview Apartment Real Estate Investment Trust by Starlight Group Property Holdings Inc. and KingSett Capital Inc.

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP guided Northview on the deal while Northview's special committee had help from Stephen Pincus, Jon Northup, Jon Feldman, Jarrett Freeman and Brandon Hoffman at Goodmans LLP.

Starlight and KingSett had counsel from Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP, Stikeman Elliott LLP, Bloom Lanys Professional Corp. and Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. The Osler team included Emmanuel Pressman, Ryan Nielsen, David Davachi, Peter Glossop, Jack Silverson, Joyce Bernasek, Elizabeth Mpermperacis, Jeremy Wu, Kai Sheffield, Arielle Kaplan, Brett Anderson and Andrew Aziz.

And rounding out the top 5 deals of the quarter was Amherst Holdings LLC's roughly $2.2 billion purchase of Front Yard Residential Corp. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP helped Amherst Residential with the deal while Front Yard Residential had assistance from Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP.

Gibson Dunn's team included Eduardo Gallardo, Jason Durschlag, Darius Mehraban, Andrew Kaplan, Matthew Kidd and Brian Kniesly. Weil's Michael Aiello, Sachin Kohli, Megan Pendleton, Kimberly Thibault, Dov Kogen, Cody Conwell and Robert Duff helped Front Yard Residential.

Both companies are in the single-family home-rental business, and with the purchase Amherst Holdings picks up roughly 15,000 single-family homes from Front Yard Residential.

The largest deal of the quarter was announced in late January and the other four among the top 5 were announced in February, and all five are still pending, according to Dealogic's data.

The two deals that followed on the top 10 list have closed.

At No. 6 for the quarter was Harbor Group International's $1.85 billion purchase of 36 multifamily properties from Aragon Holdings LLC.

The deal includes 13,243 apartment units, and the companies in January said the transaction was the largest apartment portfolio deal since 2016 and the fifth-largest ever.

Counsel information was not immediately available for the transaction, which was announced and closed Jan. 15.

The other deal among the top 10 that has closed is Sweden-based real estate firm Heimstaden Bostad AB's roughly $1.4 billion purchase of RESIDOMO sro, a Czech Republic property portfolio, from Blackstone Group Inc. and Round Hill Capital LLC, a matter a trio of law firms scored work on.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP represented the seller joint venture, Dentons assisted Round Hill Capital and Clifford Chance counseled Heimstaden.

Simpson Thacher's Samuel Charlton, Wheatly MacNamara, Ryan Ng and Max Spindler helped the joint venture, while Evan Lazar, Marketa Tvrda and Stewart Middleman at Dentons assisted Round Hill.

That deal, which includes 42,584 residential units and 1,675 commercial units, was announced in early January and closed Feb. 12. 

The final three deals on the list were announced in February and are still pending.

At No. 8 was France-based REIT Covivio's roughly $1.3 billion purchase of Godewind Immobilien AG, a Germany-based real estate firm.

With the purchase, Covivio is picking up 10 office properties from Godewind Immobilien, and those properties have a combined 290,000 square meters (approximately 3.12 million square feet) of space, Covivio said in its announcement.

The penultimate deal on the list was France-based real estate firm Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield SE's sale of a 54.2% stake in five shopping centers in France to Rue La Boetie SAS, La Francaise Group SA and Credit Agricole Assurances SA in a deal valuing the portfolio at €2 billion ($2.15 billion) and pegging the buyer's contribution at roughly $1.2 billion, according to the latest exchange rates.

The portfolio has a total of 320,800 square meters (roughly 3.45 million square feet) of space.

The final deal among the top 10 was Hong Kong-based Lai Sun Development Co. Ltd.'s purchase of a 61.95% stake in Lai Fung Holdings Ltd. for roughly $1.2 billion.

Lai Sun Development is seeking to take Lai Fung Holdings private through the acquisition.

Counsel information for the final three deals was not immediately available.

--Additional reporting by Chelsea Naso, Elise Hansen and McCord Pagan. Editing by Orlando Lorenzo.

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