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DALLAS-The Alon Group, an Israeli oil and residential properties’ conglomerate, has acquired its first multifamily holdings in the US, closing a $180-million deal for 4,102 units in Texas. But, GlobeSt.com is told, that’s just about one fifth of Alon’s acquisition goal for building a multifamily portfolio with Texas at the epicenter.

The group, through its Dallas-based Alon USA subsidiary, also is in the midst of talks to beef up its US oil interests, David Wiessman, Alon president, tells GlobeSt.com. “In the oil business, this is the right time to buy,” he emphasizes.

Wiessman, whose homeport is Alon’s headquarters north of Tel Aviv, is not saying who he’s negotiating with this time, but it’s a safe bet that it’s a Southwest US owner. Two years ago, Alon pulled off a $150-million coup with the buyout of San Antonio’s Fina Inc., a first-time US buy that delivered 1,700 gas stations in six states. The takeover was structured with the formation of Alon USA, which has Wiessman as its chairman and leading shareholder. The firm also owns the Big Spring Refinery in Texas, fuel pipelines for crude-oil transport and six storage and supply terminals.

Wiessman says Texas simply “is the right place for our money.” The Total Fina buyout was completed for the most part with Israeli capital. The multifamily acquisition from the Richmond, VA REIT, United Dominion Realty, was closed with a mix of US and Israeli money, he confides.

The teaming of oil-related and residential properties is a replay of Alon’s strategies in Israel. Wiessman is playing down the depth of the capital pool, but does say the money is there for the right opportunity. The purchases will be dictated by “the right opportunity, right timing and right price,” he says. Texas is at center stage for both acquisition fronts because of the “warm welcome” that Alon received when it bought out Fina, according to Wiessman.

As Alon negotiates more oil-related acquisitions, its multifamily group is being courted by others with assets to sell. Wiessman says those offers are being checked out right now.

The United Dominion Realty acquisition came about because local investors knew the REIT wanted to sell and Alon wanted to buy. United Dominion Realty has been turning over its portfolio by disposing of older product and acquiring newer. The portfolio of properties, built between 1981 and 1985, consists of 3,378 units in 10 properties in the San Antonio area and the balance in three Dallas-Fort Worth complexes. Bank of America provided $150 million in financing over a 26.5-year term.

The deal brought the transfer of Preston Trace in Dallas; Hunters Ridge and Southern Oaks, both in Fort Worth; Grand Cypress in New Braunfels; and Cimarron City and Peppermill, both in Universal City. The San Antonio names are Ashley Oaks, Audubon, the Bluffs, Escalante, Kenton Place, Promontory Pointe and Sunset Canyon.

In a 10-year period, Alon cornered 20% of the market share in Israel’s oil industry in a pipelines-to-pumps play. Alon also blazed a trail to incorporate retail outlets in Israel’s gas stations. The firm’s multi-faceted investment strategy has even transcended into a 6% stake in Israel’s first toll road.

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