Blackstone amasses €1.6bn of Japanese property through REIT takeovers

Blackstone has amassed €1.6bn worth of Japanese real estate in two separate takeovers of listed entities in the same week.

The majority of unitholders of Croesus Retail Trust (CRT) voted on Wednesday to approve Blackstone’s SGD901m proposal to acquire and take the listed company private.

The Singapore vote came just hours after unitholders of Astro Japan Property Group, listed on Australia’s ASX, similarly voted to approve an AUD430m (€288m) bid by Blackstone to privatise the Australian REIT.

The two acquisitions allow Blackstone to position itself as a serious player in Japan’s tightly-held retail and commercial property markets.

Last month, Blackstone appointed Katsuyuki Kuki as its chairman and representative director for Japan, with responsibility for expanding the group’s presence there.

The Singapore-listed CRT holds 11 malls across Tokyo, Osaka, Hokkaido, Hiroshima, Fukuoka and other prefectures.

As at 21 March 2017 its portfolio was valued at JPY113bn (€860m).

Blackstone made its offer for CRT in late June, weeks before bidding for Astro Japan, in a two-pronged strategy to set itself up in Japan.

It offered Croesus unitholders SGD1.17 per unit to take over the company by way of a trust scheme.

Blackstone said at the time of its offer that CRT’s “established portfolio of quality Japanese retail assets” represented a “good opportunity” for Blackstone to expand in Japan.

Singapore’s High Court must approve the trust scheme, and the transaction’s formalities are expected to be completed next month.

The last day of trading for CRT units is expected to be 5 October, with the trust to be de-listed soon after that.

The US investor will wind up Astro Japan Property Group by the end of this year before de-listing it early next year.

The Australian REIT owns an AUD1.1bn (€737m) portfolio of 14 retail properties, made up of nine office buildings and four residential blocks located mostly in central and greater Tokyo, with some in regional cities such as Osaka and Fukuoka.

Blackstone has previously owned apartment blocks in Japan, but sold them to the Chinese investor Anbang for a total of USD$2.3bn (€1.9bn) late last year.

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