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KKR Property Group Buys Chicago-Area Mall in First Deal

KKR & Co., the private-equity firm run by Henry Kravis and George Roberts, bought a regional mall outside of Chicago for about $196 million in the first U.S. acquisition under its new real estate division.

KKR is investing with YTC Pacific in Yorktown Center, a 1.5 million-square-foot (139,000-square-meter) mall with more than 150 stores, the New York-based buyout firm said today in a statement. The property, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of downtown Chicago, has more than $280 million in annual revenue, and has been under private ownership since it opened in 1968.

Private-equity managers are zeroing in on property investments as the world’s top buyout firms accelerate an expansion beyond corporate takeovers. KKR last year hired former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive Ralph Rosenberg as its first head of real estate to move into the business.

KKR aims to bolster Yorktown Center “through a combination of proactive management, a focus on leasing, cosmetic and other improvements,” Rosenberg said in the statement.

Private-equity firms are betting they can produce profits in a still choppy real estate market because their capital is locked up for long periods, usually a decade, allowing them to make improvements and wait out short-term price swings.

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