Private Equity |

Private Equity and Sale-leasebacks: Choosing the Perfect Partner

Experience, access to capital and ability to meet timing constraints are critical in today's environment

By: W. P. Carey Editorial Team

Private equity-backed deal volume has hit its lowest point in four years. Unsurprisingly, the biggest factor contributing to this decline is the high cost of debt due to rising interest rates, which has made private equity deals more expensive. 


As a result of the challenging capital environment, PE firms are turning to sale-leasebacks as part of their financing strategy. In a sale-leaseback, private equity firms can sell their portfolio company real estate to an investor for cash while the company simultaneously enters into a long-term lease. In doing so, the PE firm extracts 100% of the real estate’s value and converts an otherwise illiquid asset into working capital. This is particularly beneficial now, as cap rates on sale-leasebacks have risen significantly less than other forms of debt, making them an attractive funding alternative on a relative cost of capital basis. 


For PE firms evaluating a sale-leaseback, there are several factors to consider when choosing a partner to ensure the deal gets done quickly, efficiently and meets the needs of all parties. Here are three that are critical in today’s environment:

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One of the most important qualities to look for in a sale-leaseback partner is experience. Ensuring the investor has a strong history of successfully closing transactions, including private equity-backed transactions, will ensure the process is smooth and well executed. In addition, if the deal involves multiple properties, countries or lease structures it’s important to look for a global investor with the ability to execute on complex, cross-border and multijurisdictional transactions. There are a number of new entrants in the sale-leaseback space, so working with an investor with several decades of experience may help maximize proceeds and make the process easier, particularly for PE firms exploring sale-leasebacks for the first time. 


Access to capital

Another critical quality in a sale-leaseback partner – made more important in today’s environment – is access to capital. All-equity buyers, which are typically publicly traded REITs that access the public equity and debt markets, are better positioned to close on deals given they aren’t reliant on securing third-party debt financing at the time of close. This means they are less likely to re-trade and can offer better certainty of close when it comes to execution. 


Ability to meet timing constraints

Many private equity firms considering sale-leasebacks are looking to do it in conjunction with a portfolio-company acquisition, leveraging the financing as part of the capital stack. This means that finding a sale-leaseback partner that can meet timing constraints is important, given the capital is needed to complete the corporate acquisition. Experienced and well-capitalized investors can typically provide a quicker and more efficient close, and some even have the ability to close in less than 30 days if required. For an example of how PE firms can use sale-leasebacks to help fund an acquisition, read about W. P. Carey’s recent deal with SK Capital and Apotex. 


Closing thoughts

By finding a partner with these characteristics, private equity firms can successfully leverage a sale-leaseback to help capitalize on M&A opportunities and unlock value in portfolio-company real estate assets. W. P. Carey has 50 years of experience and has successfully closed nearly $6 billion in PE-backed deal volume. Contact us today if you’d like to evaluate a sale-leaseback as part of your financing strategy!


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