Coronavirus threat could help sink Anbang’s $5.8B hotels deal: report

Buyer Mirae Asset Global Investments denies that financing issues has thrown portfolio deal into peril

Mar.March 12, 2020 05:30 PM
CEO Andrew Miller and clockwise from top left: JW Marriott Essex House in New York, the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco and the Four Seasons in Jackson Hole

CEO Andrew Miller and clockwise from top left: JW Marriott Essex House in New York, the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco and the Four Seasons in Jackson Hole

Anbang Insurance Group’s pending deal to sell a $5.8 billion portfolio of 15 U.S. hotels to a South Korean money manager could be in doubt.

A group of lenders led by Goldman Sachs failed to receive enough investor interest for roughly $4 billion in commercial mortgage-backed securities to finance the deal, and are now scrambling to line up a similar amount in bridge financing to keep the deal afloat, according to Bloomberg. Some members of the lending syndicate, though, are nervous about the impact of coronavirus on the assets and are balking, the publication reported.

The prospective buyer, Mirae Asset Global Investments, denied that it was having issues lining up financing for the portfolio, and said low interest rates had created a strong lending climate.

The 15 hotels in the portfolio include JW Marriott Essex House in New York, the Four Seasons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco.

The hotel industry is facing unprecedented challenges as the spread of coronavirus hampers business across the industry.

Occupancy rate at U.S. hotels dropped 7.3 percent from this time last year to 61.8 percent, according to data released Wednesday by hotel research firm STR. Revenue per available room also sank 11.6 percent.

Before it was taken over by Chinese regulators in 2018, Anbang aggressively purchased overseas assets, including the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York for a record $1.95 billion. It became one of the poster children in China for soaring debt.

In the years since, the government has unwound the company and sought to sell off several of its foreign assets. The Waldorf, which launched sales as a condominium project last week, was so far not among them.

[Bloomberg] — Sylvia Varnham O’Regan

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