Blackstone launches A$436m bid for Japan property firm

The New York-based firm’s bid for Astro Japan Property Trust received backing from the board which had earlier rejected a bid from Lone Star Funds.

Blackstone has bid A$436 million ($347 million; €294 million) to take private Astro Japan Property Group, an Australian stock exchange-listed Japan-focused property group.

The bid of A$7.18 per share values Astro's portfolio of 27 Japanese retail, office and residential properties at A$1.1 billion – a 2.38 per cent premium to their most recent valuations – and at a 13 percent premium to the share price last traded on Monday, prior to a trading halt issued on Tuesday morning.

The Astro board has unanimously backed the Blackstone offer and shareholders will vote on the proposal on September 13. The board had previously rejected bids from Lone Star Funds back in March, with the Dallas, Texas-based private equity firm offering to acquire Astro’s Japanese real estate assets at their December 31, 2016 book value.

Astro is being advised by law firm Herbert Smith Freehills and Fort Street Advisers.

Blackstone’s bid for Astro comes just a week after PERE reported the New York-based asset management giant had made several offers for US hotel real estate investment trust RLJ Lodging Trust, its latest in a string of take-privates.

In June Blackstone made a S$900.6 million ($652 million; €572 million) deal for the Singapore-listed retail business trust, Croesus Retail Trust. Croesus’ total portfolio of 11 Japan assets is valued at approximately ¥112,640 million ($1 billion; €879 million) as at 30 June 2016.

Last month the firm also completed the takeover of Helsinki-listed real estate investment company Sponda. Sponda specializes in commercial properties in the largest cities in Finland and, as at March 31, 2017, the fair value of Sponda’s investment properties was approximately €3.8 billion.

Blackstone is not the only private equity real estate investor targeting the listed markets. In July Greystar Real Estate Partners, the Charleston, South Carolina-based private equity real estate firm, agreed to acquire Monogram Residential Trust, which owns 49 luxury apartment communities, in a $3 billion deal, PERE reported at the time.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board also agreed to buy Parkway, a Houston-based office real estate investment trust, in a $2.1 billion deal, while Greenwich, Connecticut-based Starwood Capital Group has likewise been chasing take-private transactions, including the April purchase of Milestone Apartments, a multifamily REIT, for $2.6 billion.