Blackstone targets Rs. 5,000cr via REIT route

The America based private equity giant, Blackstone together with its Indian partner, Embassy Group, is all set to list India's first Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) to generate a whopping sum worth Rs. 5,000cr, said sources claiming that one of the marquee properties that Blackstone co-owns in Mumbai, Express Towers, is unlikely to be a part of the proposed REIT.

Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Standard Chartered have been roped in as lead bankers for the purpose. According to the chairman and managing director Jitu Virwani, both the players are looking at a listing for its REIT very shortly. Blackstone-Embassy wants to monetize around 27 million sq ft of income-generating commercial real estate that both the players jointly own in India by pooling it into a special purpose vehicle (SPV). Some of the projects that will be a part of the REIT include the Embassy Tech Village in Bangalore, where Flipkart recently signed a long-term annual lease agreement worth Rs. 300cr.

It is worth recalling here that in view of the huge future business potentials in the Indian real estate sector, Blackstone has been on a major acquisition spree, buying prime assets across Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune and the NCR over the past three years. Among the projects it owns, Blue Ridge in Hinjewadi, Pune and the recently-acquired Oxygen Boulevard, along the Greater Noida Expressway, will be a part of the upcoming REIT. As a matter of fact, the American player has been preparing for a REIT offering in India for some time. It has emerged as one of India's largest owner of commercial real estate with a reported portfolio of around 29 million sq ft, surpassing DLF's portfolio of 25 million sq ft. Market watchers in the country's realty space are looking forward to the first REIT listing as it will serve as a reference point for others to follow, especially at a time when commercial real estate transactions are expected to pick up in the wake of the expected upswing in the economic activity across the country especially after the new government took over at the Centre, they said.

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