Ben Ashkenazy is the secret ingredient in Nightingale, Wafra’s Coca-Cola deal

Retail powerhouse joining buyers in $907M deal

May.May 22, 2019 06:21 PM
Clockwise from left: Ben Ashkenazy, 711 5th Avenue, Wafra CEO Fawaz Al-Mubaraki, and Nightingale Properties' Elie Schwartz (Credit: Google Maps; Wafra)

Clockwise from left: Ben Ashkenazy, 711 5th Avenue, Wafra CEO Fawaz Al-Mubaraki, and Nightingale Properties’ Elie Schwartz (Credit: Google Maps; Wafra)

Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. is joining Nightingale Properties and the Wafra Group on their $907 million bid to buy the Coca-Cola building on Fifth Avenue.

Ben Ashkenazy’s investment firm, a major player in high-street retail is putting $50 million worth of equity into the deal, sources told The Real Deal.

Elie Schwartz and Simon Singer’s Nightingale Properties teamed up with Wafra Group – the investment vehicle owned by Kuwait’s Public Institution for Social Security pension fund — to buy the trophy property at 711 Fifth Avenue from the Coca-Cola Company for $907 million.

Wafra is putting $140 million into the deal as preferred equity, and Nightingale is putting in $10 million, sources told TRD. The partners are looking for about $800 million in debt to fund the acquisition and cover closing costs.

Representatives for Ashkenazy Acquisition and Wafra Group could not be immediately reached for comment. A representative for Nightingale Properties declined to comment.

The partners’ acquisition of a prime corner on Manhattan’s premiere shopping strip is penciling out as something of a high-wire act.

At $800 million in debt, the deal works out to more than 88 percent loan-to-value for the 345,000-square-foot retail and office building. Nightingale, Ashkenazy and Wafra are working on a plan to lower their basis by getting tenants Ralph Lauren and Breguet to buy out their pricey retail leases.

While the three partners have a contract to buy the property, sources said they weren’t the highest bidders on the deal.

An unidentified, high-net-worth individual put in a bid of $975 million, according to a source familiar with the bid process. And a partnership of Michael Shvo and Jeff Sutton – backed by a group of German pension funds – bid at $955 million.

RFR Realty’s Aby Rosen is also said to have bid on the building, though he came in lower than Nightingale at $900 million.

Representatives for Shvo, Sutton and Rosen could not be immediately reached.

A Cushman & Wakefield team of Doug Harmon and Adam Spies is negotiating the sale on behalf of the Coca-Cola Company. Their Cushman colleagues Gideon Gil and Rob Rubano are working to secure a debt package for the buyers.

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