Qatar's sovereign fund, Crown Acquisitions named as investors in $5.6 bln New York deal

(Adds details on QIA's New York holdings, adds bylines)

By Herbert Lash and Saeed Azhar

NEW YORK/DUBAI, April 19 (Reuters) - Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and private realty firm Crown Acquisitions said on Friday they were the unnamed investors in a deal with Vornado Realty Trust valued at $5.56 billion that involves a portfolio of prime New York retail properties.

Vornado sold a non-controlling stake in its portfolio of properties along Fifth Avenue and Broadway in Times Square in a transaction that provided the firm cash proceeds of about $1.2 billion, the firm said on Thursday.

Neither QIA, Qatar's sovereign wealth fund, or Crown Acquisitions were named on Thursday as the investors who contributed $1.31 billion in cash in a newly created joint venture with Vornado.

QIA and Crown Acquisitions, which acted as an advisor to the deal, said they acquired a 24% stake each in a portfolio of five ground-level stores along a swath of Fifth Avenue just north of St. Patrick's Cathedral and two sites in Times Square.

The deal comprised $950 million of mortgage debt, $1.83 billion of preferred equity entirely held by Vornado and $2.78 billion of common equity in which Vornado holds 51%.

The portfolio include stores at 666 Fifth Avenue, a building that has been in the news because it was owned by the family of Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of President Donald Trump, until Brookfield Asset Management bought a 99-year lease on the office portion last August.

QIA Chief Executive Mansoor al-Mahmoud said in a statement the investment underlined QIA's ambition to boost its U.S. investments to $45 billion in coming years and "our belief in the exciting long-term possibilities offered by New York City."

The retail portfolio includes such brands as MAC, Polo, Forever 21 and Disney.

QIA also is an investor in Brookfield and the transaction at 666 Fifth Avenue involving Kushner Cos had prompted a rethink of how the gas-rich kingdom invests money abroad via the sovereign wealth fund, two sources told Reuters earlier this year.

Qatar had decided that QIA would aim to avoid investing in funds or other vehicles it does not fully control, according to the sources, who are familiar with the strategy.

Qatar, whose wealth comes from the world's largest exports of liquefied natural gas, manages about $300 billion in assets.

Mahmoud told Reuters in December the fund was focusing on "classic" investments in the West such as real estate and financial institutions, and would also accelerate investment in technology and healthcare.

With oil and gas prices growing over the past two years, Qatar has not departed from what it is best known for - snapping up big-name properties.

(Reporting by Saeed Azhar; editing by David Evans and Marguerita Choy)

First Published: 2019-04-19 18:28:20
Updated 2019-04-19 21:35:45


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