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Morgan Properties Buys 18,000 Apartments From Company Founded By Alleged Ponzi Schemer

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Morgan Properties Buys 18,000 Apartments From Company Founded By Alleged Ponzi Schemer
Barrington Apartments, a multifamily building in Rochester, N.Y., owned by Morgan Management as of May 2019

Morgan Properties has acquired another massive multifamily portfolio, but this one is notable for more than just its sheer size.

King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based Morgan Properties announced on Tuesday that it has completed the purchase of just under 80 apartment buildings totaling 15,000 units from Morgan Communities, and is under contract to buy 3,000 more apartments.

Once the transaction is fully completed, the 18,000 additional apartments will make Morgan Properties the fifth-largest multifamily owner in the U.S. with over 75,000 units, based on data from the National Multifamily Housing Council. Under a separate agreement, Morgan Properties has been managing the properties it is acquiring from Morgan Communities since July.

The transaction will not be a straightforward sale, at least in part because of the complex legal situation entangling Morgan Communities and its properties. Robert Morgan, the company's founder, was indicted in May on multiple federal charges of fraud, while the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit accusing Morgan of running a Ponzi scheme in order to obtain financing for some of his company's properties.

The two companies had no previous relationships or connections, Morgan Properties stated in a press release. Morgan Properties declined to comment on any financial details of the transaction or when the two companies began negotiations for the sale or the property management deal. 

At 94 properties total, the sale represents more than half of Morgan Communities' portfolio, and many of them were included in the completed sale, the Buffalo News reports. Morgan has pleaded not guilty to the charges levied against him by the Department of Justice, and says that the sale of the properties is not an admission of guilt. 

Morgan Properties CEO Jonathan Morgan
Morgan Properties President Jonathan Morgan at BMAC East

The transaction is technically a joint venture, as Robert Morgan has retained a special minority ownership stake that does not grant him any control of the portfolio, TBN reports and Bisnow has confirmed.

Morgan has agreed with prosecutors to hold his stake in the properties until the trial has completed, with any income generated in the interim to be held in escrow. Around $60M in sale proceeds will go toward repaying investors involved in the SEC lawsuit, TBN reports.

Many of the properties involved in the transaction are concentrated in Western New York, the home turf of Rochester-based Morgan Communities. Other buildings in the portfolio are located in Chicago, Memphis, Huntsville, Alabama, and Cleveland — all new markets to Morgan Properties.

When the final sale is completed, Morgan Properties will have accumulated $3B worth of properties in 2019 alone, making it the most active year for acquisitions in the company's history, President Jonathan Morgan said in a statement.

Morgan Properties President Jonathan Morgan is speaking at Bisnow's annual full-day multifamily conference in Washington, D.C., Nov. 7. Amid a day of multifamily expert analysis and dealmaking, he will discuss Morgan's growth into the fifth-largest multifamily owner in the U.S.