Sale-Leaseback Transactions Proving To Be an Attractive Option in Current Interest Rate Environment

Corporations Offer Lengthy Lease Terms in Exchange for Unlocking Valuable Operating Capital

A view of the five-story NuStar Energy Corporate Campus in San Antonio. (CoStar)<br>

Income-focused investors can secure a bond-like cash flow with the added benefits of owning real estate. From the seller/tenant’s perspective, such arrangements can free up unused equity in their real estate that can be used to reinvest it back into their business.

In the first quarter of 2023, NuStar Energy sold its San Antonio headquarters to financial services company Truist Securities for $103 million, or $320 per square foot. Under the arranged sale-leaseback, NuStar executed a lease agreement with the buyer and remains in operation at the property. In this case, NuStar will pay Truist a base rent with annual increases in return for receiving the purchase price in one lump sum at the close of escrow.

From the tenant’s perspective, one of the financial benefits is the potential to raise capital at a lower cost than they might otherwise receive in the corporate bond market. By selling their real estate, tenants can choose to use the sale proceeds to fund a business expansion or pay off debt.

Truist paid a 6.25% capitalization rate for the 20-year sale-leaseback, translating to the first year’s yield on its purchase price. The other side of the coin is that NuStar will pay the new owner this initial rate in the form of lease payments rather than paying interest from raising money in the corporate bond market.

In another recent example, Kiewit Corp. structured a 20-year sale-leaseback agreement with a joint venture between the Benderson Development Co. and CGA Capital as the buyer. The deal included four assets located in Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado, spanning 744,000 square feet. Also trading at a reported 6.25% cap rate, the portfolio of properties sold for $507 million, or $681 per square foot.

Looking ahead to 2024, the current environment with higher interest rates than the past 15 years may stimulate additional sale-leaseback transactions as corporations use their ability to offer investors lengthy lease terms and bond-like income in exchange for extracting operating capital from their real estate footprints.

Sale-Leaseback Transactions Proving To Be an Attractive Option in Current Interest Rate Environment
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