Oaktree, Avenue Capital buy Georgia golf resort for $197.5m

Two private equity firms have acquired almost all the assets of the 84-year-old Sea Island resort in a deal that saw creditors walk away from $340m of secured debt. Bankruptcy court must approved the deal, which is unlikely to be challenged.

Oaktree Capital Management and Avenue Capital have acquired the Georgia golfing resort of Sea Island in a deal that saw lenders relinquish more than $340 million of debt.

The private equity and real estate investment firms bought Sea Island Company, which has operated the famed US coastal resort since the 1920s, for $197.5 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Cloister
Hotel at Sea
Island,
Georgia

In a statement, Sea Island Company confirmed the sale adding that the firm had also filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. As part of the filing, creditors had also agreed to a restructuring plan which would see Sea Island sell “substantially all of its assets [and leave it] free of its approximately $600 million of existing secured debt”. The Journal added the sale and bankruptcy would cause lenders, including Bank of America, the Bank of Scotland and Synovus Financial, to relinquish $340 million in loans.

Sea Island, which includes the Cloister Hotel, four golf courses and private residential development, launched a major expansion and renovation project at the height of the market in 2006 and 2007 in an effort to turn the resort into a luxury destination. The company warned last year that it would consider selling its assets to reduce its debt load.

Chairman and chief executive officer Bill Jones III, whose family have run the resort for four generations, said the Chapter 11 filing was backed by the firm’s secured lenders and should be finalised by year-end. The sale of the assets to Los Angeles-based Oaktree and New York-based Avenue Capital has to be approved by bankruptcy court, but is not expected to be challenged.

“We are very pleased to have reached an agreement with an investment group that has come to know Sea Island well and appreciate what made us special from the start,” said Jones, who will continue in his role, alongside existing president and chief operating officer David Bansmer.

Oaktree, which invests in real estate through its private equity funds, has been actively increasing its exposure to the asset class and is also reportedly in talks to buy a controlling stake in struggling Irish housebuilder, McInerney Holdings, according to the Financial Times.

 

McInerney is said to be struggling with €236 million of debt, and is in “advanced discussions” with Oaktree about selling the stake. Lenders to the firm include Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland and Spain’s BBVA, the FT added.