Vitus Chief Says German Landlord’s Owners Mulling Stake Sale
Owners of Vitus Immobilien Sarl, the German residential landlord partly held by Blackstone Group LP (BX), are considering selling stakes or adding new investors to profit from demand for German housing, according to Chief Executive Officer Ben Lehrecke.
“No decision has been taken regarding an exit strategy, a recapitalization or taking on additional investors,” Lehrecke said in a telephone interview. “In this favorable market environment, all of these are options.”
If Vitus chooses to go public, an initial share offering could come as early as this year, according to a person with knowledge of the talks. The company, owned by Blackstone, Round Hill Capital LLC, Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) and Aviva Plc (AV/), is being advised by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Deutsche Bank, said the person who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.
Spokesmen for Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Blackstone declined to comment. Officials at Round Hill and Aviva didn’t immediately reply to e-mails seeking comment.
Vitus, which owns 30,000 apartments and manages 20,000 more, would be the third German property company to list its shares this year. Deutsche Annington Immobilien SE (ANN), the country’s largest landlord by market value, raised 575 million euros ($760 million) in an IPO in July. LEG Immobilien AG (LEG), the third-largest landlord, raised 1.32 billion euros in February.
Demand for German homes is fueled by investors seeking safe assets amid the European debt crisis. Institutions including insurers, pension funds and private-equity firms may buy about 10 billion euros of residential buildings in 2013, according to data compiled by Chicago-based broker Jones Lang LaSalle. (JLL) In 2012, investors bought 11.1 billion euros of homes, the most since 2007.
Vitus, founded in 1869, owns and manages homes in western German cities including Dusseldorf, Kiel and Bremen, according to its website. Blackstone bought the company in 2004 for 1.39 billion euros, and in 2007 sold a majority stake for 1.6 billion euros to funds managed by Round Hill, Deutsche Bank and Aviva.
Last year, Vitus refinanced its debt with a five-year, 754 million euro commercial mortgage backed security issued by Deutsche Bank. It was the first European CMBS since 2007.
On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Vitus is planning an IPO.
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