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Do Private-Equity Chain Buy-Outs Hurt Your Business?

Barry Argalas is vice president of national acquisitions and dispositions of Regency Centers. The Jacksonville, FL-based firm owns interests in 409 properties across the country and is in a joint-venture deal to acquire 33 centers from the Desco Group for $400 million.

Despite a growing number of private-equity retail chain buy-outs, 69% of respondents to GlobeSt.com’s recent poll say the deals have not hurt their business. On the other side of the coin, 31% have seen an effect. Argalas counts among the majority, believing that private-equity buys have not had a major impact on how shopping-centers owners do business. To him, it all depends on the tenant and quality of the real estate. Here is his take on the issue:

“The private equity buying of retailers as it relates to our portfolio really hasn’t been that great. I think that stems from the quality of our portfolio. You see most private equity guys coming in and buying struggling retailers. We haven’t really seen that great of an impact. The most impact we saw was with Albertsons and some of the centers that we have since sold because all of those were shadow anchored in Texas where we didn’t control the anchor. But with Vornado’s acquisition of Toys “R” Us and others like it, it hasn’t really impacted us.

“It really all goes back to the real estate, from our perspective. If the real estate is strong and successful, we would have less concern with the private-equity guys taking over, with the caveat being as long as the lease that we have in place was market and we didn’t inherit from someone else. That way we would have some control of the space in the event of a go dark or a continuous operations clause or something along those lines. That’s where we draw the line. When somebody takes over somebody, and we do an evaluation of the stores that are impacted, it’s not only how we feel about the real estate and the underlying rent and if there’s opportunity there if we get the space back.

“When the Kmart deal happened, there was a question as to whether they were buying it for the operations or the value inherent in the leases. Are we going to get this lease back? I think there are two different things going on there. Some people buy it to clean up the operations and trim things down and try to maximize their profit. But I think the Albertsons deal with primarily driven by the leasehold. With Toys, it seems to be an operational play.”

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