Americold Realty Trust Snaps Up Major Owner Of Cold Storage For $1.2B
In a deal that furthers the consolidation of cold storage facilities, Americold Realty Trust has acquired Chiller Holdco, which is also known as Cloverleaf Cold Storage, for $1.24B.
Cloverleaf's portfolio consists of 22 facilities — 21 owned and one managed — totaling about 140M cubic feet of refrigerated space. By that metric, Cloverleaf is the fifth-largest owner and operator of cold storage space in the country.
Cloverleaf only recently reached its present size with the acquisition of Zero Mountain, a cold storage specialist with five facilities and 38M cubic feet of storage.
Americold is currently the No. 1 U.S. cold storage owner, with 155 facilities totaling more than 918M cubic feet. Once the deal is finalized, the REIT will count more than 1B cubic feet of cold storage in its portfolio.
Investor interest in refrigerated warehouses has grown recently. Consumer tastes in favor of fresh food and e-commerce grocery delivery growth are driving demand for such space, an industrial property subsector previously considered high cost and low margin.
A report by MarketsandMarkets put the global value of the refrigerated warehousing market at nearly $18B in 2017, and projects that it will reach a value of more than $29.1B by 2022.
The market is driven by an increase in demand for perishable foods, expansion of retail channels, and a rise in disposable income in such places as China, India and Brazil, Food Logistics reports.
The cold storage sector is also at least partially recession-proof. During the 2008 recession, restaurant visits dropped but demand for frozen food products increased, HFF reports. Steady demand mitigates the potential risks to owning and operating cold storage facilities.
According to Americold, Cloverleaf’s assets, which are in nine states in the central and southeastern United States, will complement Americold’s existing geographic reach and expand its focus in the growing protein business segment (involving meat and other products).
"We will accelerate and enhance Cloverleaf’s recently implemented initiatives by leveraging Americold’s commercial platform, institutional-quality management and the Americold Operating System,” Americold CEO Fred Boehler said in a statement.
Sioux City, Iowa-based Cloverleaf is privately held by its management, as well as an investor group including private equity funds managed by Blackstone, the Kaplan and Feiges families, and Medley Management.
In 2017, Blackstone made an offer for Americold, but the company declined and instead proceeded with an initial public offering that formed its current REIT structure.
Separately, Atlanta-based Americold said this week that it intends to invest $126M to $136M in a planned expansion and redevelopment at its existing Atlanta campus, consisting of its Tradewater, Gateway, Westgate, Southgate and Skygate facilities.
According to Boehler, the Atlanta expansion, along with its previously announced development at the Port of Savannah, will grow Americold's total capacity in Georgia by over 50% by 2021.