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EQT Exeter To Sell U.S. Industrial Portfolio For $6.8B


EQT Exeter has culminated three years of portfolio aggregation with one of the largest sales of industrial property ever.

The company, which was formed when Swedish investment giant EQT AB acquired Exeter Property Group earlier this year, has completed the sale of a 328-property portfolio of distribution centers for $6.8B, it announced on Wednesday. The 70.5M SF portfolio includes assets of virtually every size, from last-mile centers to big-box regional warehouses, and is distributed across the five largest industrial markets in the country: New York, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles. The portfolio also includes properties in the Indianapolis; Columbus, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; and Memphis, Tennessee; markets.

Exeter built up the portfolio over the past three years through a combination of development and acquisition. It developed 15M SF of the portfolio itself, with another 7M SF still under construction, and acquired the rest across more than 100 transactions, Exeter announced. The standing properties it acquired were 55% occupied upon acquisition and stand at 95% occupancy at the time of the sale. 

The portfolio's buyer is an Asian sovereign wealth fund whose name wasn't disclosed, though Exeter also announced that it will continue to manage the properties on behalf of the fund. Eastdil Secured served as the procuring broker for the transaction.

Exeter, whose headquarters remains in the Philadelphia suburb of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, in the wake of its acquisition, credited its management across its 20 offices for the portfolio's growth in occupancy and value, with the portfolio's unleveraged yield on cost rising from 4.8% initially to 6.9% at sale, according to the announcement. The value of distribution centers as an asset class has also exploded in the three years Exeter spent building the portfolio. 

Industrial real estate has never been more valuable, setting records in terms of both valuation and transaction volume in the third quarter. Tenant demand has been so fierce that industry giant Prologis CEO Hamid Moghadam described the leasing mood as "panic mode" in the company's third-quarter earnings call in late October. Rents have even spiked fast enough to outpace the increase in construction costs experienced by the industry.

The leasing environment may be changing, however, with news that Amazon is pivoting its strategy from leasing to acquisition, potentially removing what had been by far the biggest source of demand from the tenant pool.