Private Equity Pushes Warehouse Owner Toward Biggest Asia Buyout


 Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- A warehouse operator in Singapore is shaping up to be Asia’s biggest buyout deal.

Three private equity groups are working on bids for Global Logistic Properties Ltd. by an early February deadline, according to people familiar with the matter. Blackstone Group LP is considering going head-to-head with a Warburg Pincus consortium and a Chinese group backed by existing GLP investors, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential.

Since Bloomberg News first reported takeover interest in GLP, the company’s shares have soared 46 percent, valuing it at $11.3 billion including debt. At that level, a purchase of the industrial property owner would be the largest-ever buyout of an Asian company, surpassing last year’s takeover of Qihoo 360 Technology Co., data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Private equity firms flush with capital have been rushing to bid for the rare opportunities in Asia that offer control. Such investors have shown a willingness to pay top dollar in recent months, beating out strategic bidders for both Hong Kong internet provider Wharf T&T Ltd. and share registry Tricor Holdings Ltd. in October.

“There’s a lot of dollars out there,” Justin Tang, director of global special situations at Religare Capital Markets in Singapore, said by phone Thursday. “The world is still awash in cash in a low-interest-rate environment.”

Seeking Partners

Warburg Pincus is forming a consortium to bid for GLP and has been speaking with banks and potential bidding partners, according to the people with knowledge of the matter. An investor group including Chinese buyout firm Hopu Investment Management also remains keen to pursue a takeover of the Singapore-based company and is preparing an offer, the people said.

Chinese retailer Suning Holdings Group Co. has held exploratory talks about the possibility of joining one of the bidder groups pursuing GLP, the people said. Bidder groups see the support of existing GLP management, led by Chief Executive Officer Ming Mei, as key to the success of their offers, according to the people. 

A purchase of GLP would help an acquirer take advantage of a boom in demand for warehouse space from e-commerce companies like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and JD.com Inc. GLP said last month it would conduct a strategic review of options to improve shareholder value after a request from its biggest investor, Singapore sovereign fund GIC Pte.

The company manages a portfolio of 53 million square meters (570 million square feet) of logistics properties, with assets in China, Japan, the U.S. and Brazil, according to its website. GLP’s clients include Adidas AG, French retailer Carrefour SA and luxury-goods giant LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE.

Veteran Dealmaker

“The GLP platform has a global reach,” Religare’s Tang said. “It’s a scarce asset that’s very difficult to build from scratch.” 

Representatives or officials at Blackstone, GLP, Hopu and Warburg Pincus declined to comment. A representative for Suning said he doesn’t have any information on the matter.

Beijing-based Hopu has been holding talks with Hillhouse Capital Management and other investors about making a joint offer for GLP, people with knowledge of the matter said in November. Hopu was part of a consortium that invested $2.5 billion in GLP’s Chinese business in 2014. 

The private equity firm’s founder, veteran dealmaker Fang Fenglei, joined GLP’s investment committee that year and was appointed to the Singapore company’s board as a non-executive director.

Any deal would depend on the receptiveness of GIC, which holds a 37 percent stake in GLP, people with knowledge of the matter said in November. Hillhouse owns 8.2 percent of the company, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

--With assistance from Zhang Dingmin Bei Hu Pooja Thakur and Cathy Chan To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan Browning in Hong Kong at jbrowning9@bloomberg.net, Joyce Koh in Singapore at jkoh38@bloomberg.net, Vinicy Chan in Hong Kong at vchan91@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Scent at bscent@bloomberg.net, Timothy Sifert

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

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