Lehman Prepares $1.3B Bid for Archstone Stake
By Linda Sandler – Dec 12, 2011 7:24 AM ET
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., which has approval for a $65 billion bankruptcy liquidation plan, will ask a judge to let it use $1.3 billion of the estate’s money to increase its stake in Archstone, its biggest real estate asset, according to a person familiar with the planned bid.
Equity Residential, founded by Sam Zell, said on Dec. 2 that it had offered Bank of America Corp. (BAC) and Barclays Plc (BARC) $1.3 billion for 26.5 percent of Archstone, or about half of their stake.
Lehman, which currently owns 47 percent of Archstone and has an option to inform the banks this week that it will match the Zell company’s offer, will tell the judge the investment is needed to protect the estate’s interest in the company, said the person, who declined to be identified because the discussions are private.
The purchase would be the first step in a Lehman plan to gain control of Englewood, Colorado-based Archstone, an owner of apartment developments. The defunct securities firm seeks to sell or liquidate Archstone for at least $6 billion, according to another person familiar with the plan.
Lehman’s strategy depends on taking over Archstone, said that person, who declined to be named because the money-raising efforts are private. Lehman had been seeking to raise money in talks with investors including Blackstone Group LP and Brookfield Asset Management Inc., said a third person familiar with the plan who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private.
Lehman, which filed the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history in 2008, along with its affiliates has about $23 billion of available cash, according to court papers.
Lehman has said in regulatory filings that Archstone is worth “at least” $1 billion more than the $5 billion equity value portrayed by the Equity Residential (EQR) offer.
“Lehman believes that the EQR purchase price does not take into consideration the value of Archstone’s platform, including its management, which Lehman believes is the best in the industry, nor does it take into account Archstone’s valuable strategic position within the apartment industry,” the bankrupt firm said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Kimberly Macleod, a spokeswoman for Lehman, declined to immediately comment on the firm’s plans for Archstone. Kerrie McHugh, a spokeswoman for Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America, declined to comment. Zell and Michael O’Looney, a spokesman for London-based Barclays, didn’t immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment.
Moody’s Investors Service said it revised its rating outlook for about $4 billion of securities of Equity Residential and its debt-issuing unit ERP Operating LP from stable to developing.
Moody’s, based in New York, said Equity Residential’s acquisition of the Archstone stake could require a disproportionate share of management’s attention because of the complexity of the ownership structure.
Equity Residential, based in Chicago, may also get a negative outlook on the rating, indicating a potential rating cut from Baa2 on its preferred shares and from Baa1 on senior unsecured debt at ERP Operating if the acquisition is permanently leveraged, Moody’s said in a statement.
Archstone, which Lehman acquired in a $22 billion leveraged buyout with Tishman Speyer Properties LP, has ownership interests in hundreds of apartment developments from Washington and New York to San Francisco.
Lehman, which is selling some assets and buttressing others for a future sale, fetched $3.9 billion through June 30 from property sales, according to court papers. Chief Executive Officer Bryan Marsal has said real estate sales will continue through 2014.
The cash bid for the Archstone stake was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.
To contact the reporter on this story: Linda Sandler in New York at email@example.com.