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GLP goes from possible U.S. IPO to small player in $18.7 billion asset sale to Blackstone

Will be shrinking soon (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

About a month ago, GLP, the Singapore logistics real estate giant, was reportedly mulling an IPO for its U.S. operations. That will not happen. In fact, with the June 2 announcement that it would sell 179 million square feet of logistics real estate assets to Blackstone Real Estate, GLP has pared back its U.S. exposure to virtually nothing by big-player standards.

The $18.7 billion transaction, billed as the largest real estate deal ever between private global companies, would leave GLP with 8 million square feet of logistics real estate in the U.S. The U.S. market currently represents about one-quarter of GLP’s global footprint, which stands at 785 million square feet. GLP, which entered the U.S. market in 2015, is the second-largest U.S. logistics real estate owner, behind ProLogis (NYSE:PLD), which operates about 455 million square feet. After the sale, GLP’s total U.S. assets, which also include technology, will be valued at about $2 billion.

GLP had initially planned to launch an IPO of its U.S. business but opted for a sale because it represented the best value for its investors, according to a source close to the situation. GLP never publicly confirmed the reports that such a transaction was under development.

GLP did not comment on the reasons behind its massive disposal of U.S. assets. Alan Yang, the company’s chief investment officer, said it will continue to invest in the U.S. market. The assets being sold are in leading coastal markets, primary e-commerce centers, and mostly in urban areas with dense population and active consumption characteristics, GLP said. All of the assets are land that has been developed. It is unclear when the transaction will be finalized.

Benjamin Gordon, who runs a transport and logistics M&A firm and is familiar with GLP’s operations, said the sale’s proceeds will likely be funneled into the Asian logistics market, which is clearly the company’s focus. GLP is the largest logistics real estate operator in China with 400 million square feet, according to its website. It operates 73 million square feet in Japan, and 30 million square feet in India.

No one would speculate as to whether GLP had sensed a top in the U.S. logistics real estate market, which has been in a near decade-long bull cycle. Most forecasts at the start of the year called for a levelling off of the rapid growth pace in 2019 as supply began to catch up with demand and geopolitical and economic uncertainties compelled businesses to hold off on investments. However, no one has projected any downturn this year or next. Ken Caplan, global co-head of Blackstone Real Estate, said logistics is “our highest conviction global investment theme” at this time.

The deal means that Blackstone, which launched its real estate business in 1991 and owns properties across all real estate asset classes, now has 930 million square feet of global logistics space. The New York-based company would not break down how much of that space is located in the U.S.

Blackstone and GLP have crossed paths before. In 2014, Blackstone sold Indcor Properties, a U.S.-based logistics real estate firm to “affiliates” of GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, for $8.1 billion. GLP used those assets to jump-start its U.S. operations the following year. It operates in 36 U.S. markets.

Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.