Monday, February 2, 2009

Tishman-Speyer and Stuytown/Peter Cooper Village

New York magazine has a long and fascinating article on the genesis of one of the most regrettable real estate deals in history.

I wish I could have seen my face when this deal was originally announced. I can remember shaking my head in shock at the price T-S paid. One must, however, tip their cap to the faceless MetLife exec who was on the other side of the table. MetLife sold at the absolute top of the market.

This is a perfect example of asset prices inflated beyond all reason when credit lending standards were virtually abandoned over the last 8 years.

I wasn't clear enough above - this deal is not so much regrettable for Tishman-Speyer; they actually had minimal skin in the game. But their investors are going to get hosed. This deal really is a poster child for the excesses of the financial industry of the last 8 years:
According to people with knowledge of the deal’s structure, Tishman Speyer contributed $56 million of its own money to the $5.4 billion purchase price and didn’t use any of its other properties as collateral. “Jerry is a lover of nonrecourse debt and other people’s money. He liked deals where he could contribute sweat equity,” one real-estate investment banker says. “They have so little money in, and they make so much in management fees, they have nothing to lose when it goes under,” a former Tishman Speyer staffer said.

The financing for the Stuy Town deal was facilitated by a fast-talking Wachovia banker named Rob Verrone. During the bubble years, Verrone became a symbol of the risk-taking that helped inflate the Manhattan market, and in real-estate circles he was dubbed “Large Loan Verrone.” From his table at San Pietro, Verrone held court and pitched Wachovia’s commercial-lending division to real-estate magnates like Donald Trump and Harry Macklowe. Verrone raised more than $4 billion for Stuy Town. Another $500 million came from Merrill Lynch.

The game was really one of hot potato. Wachovia put $1 billion of the bank’s money into the Stuy Town deal, but the neat trick was that Wachovia sold the debt to investors. Hundreds of millions of dollars of Stuy Town’s equity is actually held by a Korean investment fund and CALPERS, the giant California retirement fund, among others. Wachovia also bundled Stuy Town’s $3 billion mortgage in a $7 billion bond offering. Another $1.4 billion tranche of financing, known as “mezzanine debt,” is held by investors including the real-estate firm SL Green and the government of Singapore.
$56 million down with no recourse - that's nearly 100X leverage!! No wonder T-S bid so high, they offloaded nearly all the risk to fools. $56 million cap on the downside and unlimited upside if bubble economics continued for a few more years. Unbelievable.

No comments: