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RREEF to Get Plenty of Bidders, Experts Say

If Deutsche Bank puts its RREEF business on the market, its asset management portfolio will likely attract up to a dozen bidders, industry experts say.

Recently, Deutsche Bank has indicated it is considering strategic dispositions of certain of its holdings in order to fulfill the European Union’s new banking regulations.

RREEF manages about $59.4 billion in real estate assets throughout the world, including core assets, value add assets, real estate securities and structured debt. It employs about 600 staff members. What’s more, RREEF’s portfolio encompasses almost every asset class, including office, retail, industrial and residential, according to Arthur Milston, managing director with Savills Liberty Street Asset Management, an asset management company with a global client base.

As a result, it will likely get strong interest from every asset manager with a global platform, as well as potentially catching the eye of investors who would like to enter the asset management business for the first time and need an already established platform in order to succeed.

“From the buyer’s perspective, the asset management business is an economy of scale business,” Milston says. “The more assets under management, the better positioned you are to be successful. It’s an opportunity to expand a client base, to add a very significant layer of the market. There is a lot of incremental value that a large player can get by absorbing this entity.”

The usual suspects would include the same firms that went after ING’s investment management business earlier in the year, including CB Richard Ellis, Jones Lang LaSalle, Vornado Realty Trust and some of the larger banks, according to David J. Lynn, managing director with Clarion Partners. There might also be a private equity firm or two in the running.

But the pool of potential buyers will be limited by the price tag likely to be attached to the portfolio. Milston estimates that RREEF might fetch anywhere between $3 billion and $5 billion. There are only a few firms out there able to write a check for that amount, he notes.

At the same time, the opportunity to buy an asset management business of the size and quality that RREEF offers won’t come around often. Both ING and Deutsche Bank have had to consider dispositions of non-core businesses because of liquidity concerns tied to new banking regulations. But there won’t be a big wave of such transactions because the asset management business continues to deliver solid profits.

“This is something that will continue to happen on a selective basis,” Milston says. “The business would have to be owned by a bank that has capital constraints. The real estate management business continues to be something that’s very attractive.”

RREEF has been active in the U.S. real estate market since 1975, when it launched a real estate fund targeting core properties on the West Coast. It launched a U.S. real estate securities business in 1993. Its most recent real estate transactions stateside have included the acquisition of an 11,862-sq.-ft. retail condominium in Manhattan, and the acquisition of three multifamily properties in Chicago and Seattle for $151 million.

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