In 2016, Blackstone had bought the one million sq. ft Seawoods Grand Central Mall in Navi Mumbai from L&T Realty Ltd for about ₹1,350 crore. Subsequently, Blackstone’s subsidiary, Nexus Malls, which was set up in June 2016 to own and manage shopping complexes in India, opened the mall in 2017.
“L&T wanted to monetize some of its real estate assets, and both deals are part of that plan," said the first person cited above.
A Blackstone spokesperson declined to comment on emailed queries. An L&T spokesperson didn’t respond to queries. Blackstone has been steadily expanding its footprint in India’s realty market. In the year’s largest commercial real estate deal so far, the private equity firm acquired the One BKC office building in Mumbai’s Bandra-Kurla Complex in June from Radius Developers for ₹2,500 crore.
With these two deals, Blackstone has committed around $5.8 billion across 34 real estate investments in India. Of this, around $4.4 billion is in commercial real estate, or office assets, across key cities, including Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and the National Capital Region.
The remaining $1.4 billion has been committed primarily towards retail assets such as shopping malls and residential projects.
Blackstone’s real estate arm crossed the $5 billion investment mark last year, after it bought a stake in Indiabulls Real Estate Ltd’s office projects in central Mumbai for $730 million.
In March, Embassy Office Parks, backed by Blackstone and Bengaluru-based developer Embassy Group, launched India’s first real estate investment trust, or REIT, housing 33 million sq. ft of office and hospitality assets. Embassy had raised ₹4,750 crore through the REIT issue.
“Blackstone hasn’t slowed its pace of buying out office space in key locations across cities, though the number of Grade A quality, operational assets are fast shrinking in number. Alongside, it has also selectively been investing in office projects under-development of its trusted developer partners," said the second person. Blackstone continues to be in the hunt for other deals. One of those could be a potential purchase of Adani Realty’s 8,00,000 sq ft commercial project, Inspire, in Mumbai for ₹1,800-1900 crore, said a property analyst, who didn’t wish to be named.
Even as the residential sector continues to limp through a liquidity crisis and slowdown in sales, the commercial real estate business has consistently attracted global investors. Most property analysts are upbeat about the momentum not slowing down in the office sector.
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