Lend Lease bites into the Equity Office pie

CHICAGO - Lend Lease US Office Inc. has entered an agreement with affiliates of Chicago-based Equity Office Properties Trust (EOP) to invest $533.9 million in seven EOP properties. Closing considerations include the completion of Lend Lease US Office Trust's current public offering in Australia and other conditions. If the conditions are satisfied, the deal is expected to close in December when Lend Lease anticipates its affiliate to be listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

With the agreement, Lend Lease will own 25% of 10 South Wacker Drive and 30 South Wacker Drive in Chicago; 75% of Bank One Center in Indianapolis; 75% of SunTrust Center in Orlando, Fla.; 50% of Promenade II in Atlanta; 75% of Pasadena Towers in Los Angeles; and 50% in Preston Commons and Sterling Plaza, both in Dallas.

Managed by Australia-based Lend Lease Real Estate Investments, Lend Lease US Office Inc. will offer Australian investors the opportunity to invest in office properties in the United States. The company will be the first listed Australian property trust to specialize in U.S. office assets.

"There is investor appetite in Australia for assets like this, and that's an increasing theme you're going to see," says Ray D'Ardenne, COO of Atlanta-based Lend Lease Real Estate Investments Inc. "In Australia, for example, it's hard to find deals and properties to invest in. In the United States there is a plethora of investment opportunities, so it fills the mandate to invest in real estate given our quantity of transaction opportunities.

"This transaction is an example of capital flowing on a global basis, and the reasons why you're going to see this deal happen and additional transactions similar to this are that there are clearly opportunities - either yield opportunities or arbitrage opportunities or investment characteristics opportunities - to literally move capital around the globe," he continues.

NEW YORK - In a follow-up to our Oct. 1 story on the battle raging between the four major rating agencies over the share of CMBS deals they are rating, New York-based Moody's lost significant market share to cross-town rival Standard & Poor's in the third quarter.

According to Commerical Mortgage Alert, S&P and Moody's nearly tied in volume from July through September, each rating about 64% of all CMBS issuances.

That is in sharp contrast to the first half of 1999, when Moody's rated about 85% and S&P rated 50%. And so, the battle goes on.

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