Goldman Sachs has provided fresh debt to the revamped Dutch office portfolio which was once securitised in Europe’s first defaulted CMBS.
The US investment bank has provided a €337 million, five-year loan to refinance the Merin portfolio, which has grown significantly in value since it was acquired by private equity firms TPG and Patron Capital in 2012.
Goldman’s facility, which reflects a loan-to-value ratio of 65 percent, is secured by 139 properties. It refinances a syndicated loan which was underwritten by Dutch banks ING and ABN Amro in October 2015.
Merin, formerly known as Uni-Invest, was taken private in 2002 by a consortium including Lehman Brothers. A €1 billion loan provided by Eurohypo was securitised in 2005 in the Opera Finance (Uni-Invest) CMBS, which defaulted on maturity in 2012, leading to a credit bid for the portfolio by TPG and Patron.
With new management subsequently brought in, Merin is credited with a remarkable turnaround in the portfolio’s fortunes, with empty buildings sold off and investment made in the core portfolio. More than 50 acquisitions and disposals have been completed. The offices have been repositioned, leading to occupancy levels increasing by around 14 basis points, to a percentage in the mid-80s, over the past three years.
ING and ABN Amro provided a €240 million, 18-month financing of 152 of Merin’s then 170 assets in October 2015. A €100 million slice of the circa 50 percent LTV facility was subsequently syndicated to NIBC, Aalto Invest and Hypo NOE.
The ING/ABN Amro loan was priced at just more than 300 basis points, although the new financing is understood to have been done at tighter pricing, reflecting the improvement in the portfolio’s quality.
Goldman is understood to be considering distributing the loan, although a decision about whether to syndicate or securitise is unlikely to be made until after the summer months.