The Day After Brexit: What About Real Estate Owners?

The offices of HSBC, Bank of America and Citigroup in the Canary Wharf financial district of east London. (AFP/Getty Images)

The offices of HSBC, Bank of America and Citigroup in the Canary Wharf financial district of east London. (AFP/Getty Images)


We discussed last week how the decision by British voters to leave the European Union could affect European lenders like Deutsche Bank. Now, let’s take a look at how Brexit might affect owners of U.S. commercial real estate that are based in Britain or have significant UK exposure.

Some of the British-based owners of commercial properties in the U.S. are banks like HSBC, which owns multifamily properties such as 2723 Cruger Ave. in the Bronx and 7442 S. Maplewood Ave.in Chicago.

But non-bank CRE owners with offices in London or other UK cities don’t always have the same resources as banks and could potentially push off buying additional U.S. properties in the near term. And if the situation worsens, they might even consider offloading the U.S. properties they already own. (Here are more details on how Brexit could affect a wide variety of CRE players.)

Take LCN Capital Partners, a private equity firm with offices in New York, London and Amsterdam that has dollar-denominated and euro-denominated private equity funds. In 2014 it purchased the property portfolio of Wisconsin-based Vintage Parts, which provides inactive service parts manufactured by companies such as Chrysler, Harley Davidson and Caterpillar, in a $35 million sale/leaseback deal that Colliers described as one of the top 10 investment deals in Wisconsin in 2014.

The portfolio, which totals 682,092 square feet, includes the Vintage Parts headquarters and 15 warehouses located on three campuses in Beaver Dam and Columbus, Wisconsin. Vintage Parts has a 20-year lease as part of the transaction. 

In addition to involving an owner exposed to the UK and EU, the deal was financed by a $22.9 million CMBS loan originated in March 2014 by a British lender, Edinburgh-based Royal Bank of Scotland.

Now that more than two years have passed, LCN could, if it chooses, pull out of the CMBS deal and go into defeasance. It would have to make up the lost revenue for investors, but would potentially be able to refinance at a better rate or sell the property if it thought the market rate was going up.

For owners as well as lenders, much depends on whether the UK referendum is just a momentary shock or will have broader, more lasting effects, such as an exodus not just of Britain from the EU, but also of financial institutions and multinational corporations from the UK.

The stability of the U.S. market could outweigh any currency exchange risk as long as the pound and euro are stable, even if somewhat weakened. But if the pound and euro become highly undervalued or prove volatile, owners of U.S. commercial properties who are exposed to weaker economies could potentially seek to realize gains on the exchange rate and sell their U.S. holdings.

Ely Razin is CEO of CrediFi, a big data platform serving the commercial real estate finance market. He can be reached at ceo@credifi.com.

By Ely Razin, CEO of CredFi. Article is sourced from Forbes.com.