Colony strikes black gold

The private equity real estate firm is acquiring a majority interest in 3,000 European petrol stations and a number of oil refineries by purchasing a 65 percent interest in Libyan oil group Tamoil.

Los Angeles-based private equity real estate firm Colony Capital has agreed to purchase a majority stake in Tamoil, an oil refiner and distributor owned by the Libyan government, in a deal that values the Switzerland-based company at €4 billion ($5.4 billion).

Colony will purchase a 65 percent stake in Tamoil, while the Libyan government will retain the remainder. Tamoil operates more than 3,000 service stations throughout Europe, two-thirds of which are located in Italy, as well as oil refineries in Italy, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Spain. The refinery in Italy, located in Cremona, supplies all of the 2,000 petrol stations in the country. Tamoil also has operations in Africa, which are not part of the Colony transaction.

According to company accounts, Tamoil's fixed assets are worth €1.7 billion.

The sale of Tamoil has been on the slate for two years after leader Muammar Qaddafi's son, Seif Al-Islam, reportedly said that managing the company was a “burden.”

Colony founder Tom Barrack and Libya's deputy prime minster AM Zlitni negotiated the deal, according to a statement released by the parties. The transaction was overseen by Shokri Ghanem, chairman of Libya's National Oil Corporation.

The deal with Colony is the latest sign that Libya is emerging from its decades-long period of isolation and international sanctions. At the same time, it underlines real estate investors' appetite for petrol stations, which are generating substantial revenues on the back of rising oil prices. In November last year, Israeli investment group Delek Real Estate bought a portfolio of 73 petrol stations in Finland for €118 million as part of a sale and leaseback deal with Neste Oil. The same investment group recently purchased 29 properties, including petrol stations, under the Roadchef brand in the UK.

In Europe, Colony's assets include French football club Paris Saint-Germain, which it acquired alongside Morgan Stanley and US firm Butler Capital. The firm also invested €1 billion in hotel group Accor and has been attempting to unlock value from Carrefour's real estate holdings, which it believes are worth approximatly €30 billion. The firm teamed up earlier this year with French billionaire Bernard Arnault to take a 9 percent stake in the French hypermarket group.

Morgan Stanley embarks on London City project
Morgan Stanley will redevelop a London City office building in a bid to take advantage of the strengthening rental market. Redevelopment of the 300,000-square-foot Drapers Gardens building near the Bank of England block is due for completion in autumn 2009. Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund V has formed a joint venture with Exemplar Development and Canary Wharf Group to develop the 14-story property. Reports noted that the development could cost £200 million ($400 million; €300 million).

Quinlan buys Jurys Inns for €1.1bn
Private equity real estate investment firm Quinlan Private has acquired hotel company Jurys Inns for €1.1 billion ($1.5 billion). The firm, which is run by Derek Quinlan, reportedly beat off competition from rivals including Irish race horsing duo John Magnier and JP McManus. Jurys Inns concentrates on the budget-plus sector of the market and operates 20 three-star properties in city centers throughout Ireland and the UK. It was put up for sale earlier this year by its parent company, Jurys Doyle, following a strategic review of the business. Under its new owners, the chain will be increased in size with extra outlets to be added not just in Ireland and the UK but in continental Europe as well.

Delta Two takes 25 percent stake in Sainsbury's
Delta Two, the investment vehicle of property firm Three Delta, upped its stake in UK supermarket group J Sainsbury to 25 percent. The firm, which is backed with capital from the Qatari government, bought an additional 7 percent stake in the supermarket for £732 million ($1.4 billion; €1.1 billion), solidifying its position as the company's largest shareholder. Property entrepreneur Robert Tchenguiz, who values the group's real estate portfolio at up to £10 billion, owns 5 percent of the company. In April, the supermarket rejected a takeover bid led by global private equity group CVC Capital Partners.

Apollo acquires UK shopping center for €660m
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GE purchases holiday resorts
IPBM, a subsidiary of GE Real Estate, has acquired three Club Med resort complexes in France, Corsica and Switzerland from French real estate investment company Lucia for €117 million ($157 million). The properties encompass approximately 350,000 square feet of space and 2,200 bedrooms. They are leased to Club Méditerrannée for 13 years. Holiday villages have attracted property investors in recent times including Blackstone, which has acquired Center Parcs, and Colony Capital, which recently sold a controlling 62 percent stake in Lucia.