Blue Owl Capital has entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire Oak Street Real Estate Capital and its investment advisory business for $950 million. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021 and is subject to customary closing conditions.
Oak Street is a Chicago-based firm, founded in 2009 with over 35 employees and with $10.8 billion of assets under management as of June 30, 2021. The firm focuses on two primary strategies: structuring sale-leasebacks, which includes triple net leases, as well as providing seed and strategic capital.
Market Ripe for Sale Leaseback Transactions
“Right now, the market is ripe for sale leaseback transactions, and there are a couple factors pushing the popularity of this category,” Katie Elliott, Stan Johnson Company Associate Director, tells GlobeSt.
“What we saw during the pandemic was a flight to safety, with investors seeking security with long-term leases and credit-worthy tenants occupying essential, mission critical assets. Many sale leasebacks fit this category, in particular industrial assets because you can’t manufacture from home, therefore increasing the ‘stickiness’ of a tenant to a location.
Elliott said another trend she is seeing in the sale leaseback market is private equity sponsors utilizing real estate as a differentiator in their bids to acquire companies.
In 2021, U.S. private equity dealmaking exceeded previous annual records and with the competitive environment, many sponsors are thinking outside the box.
“With today’s low cap rates, there is an underlying value arbitrage between the business EBITDA multiple and effective real estate multiple, potentially resulting in millions of dollars of value creation,” Elliott said. “We are still in a low interest-rate environment, and though we are seeing the 10-year treasury begin to creep up, we still expect cap rates will remain stable throughout 2022 due to the dislocation of supply and demand and money pouring into the net lease category.”
Oak Street Leadership Team Will Remain in Place
Oak Street’s active net lease funds primarily focus on single tenant properties, net leased to investment grade and creditworthy tenants, under long duration leases.
The Seeding and Strategic Capital business focuses on investing in early-stage real estate managers across various industry sectors. The platform provides strategic institutional capital to managers typically enhanced by attractive general partnership economics and an active governance role. The platform seeks to work with strongly aligned management teams with leading investment capabilities, oftentimes led and controlled by women and minorities.
Upon closing of the transaction, key members of the Oak Street leadership team will remain in place, and Oak Street’s Chicago office will become an additional office for Blue Owl. In addition, Marc Zahr will join Blue Owl’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee.