LOS ANGELES-Investment firm BentleyForbes has launched an initiative to expand the company’s $2.5-billion office portfolio by bringing in joint venture partners and has retained Eastdil Secured to lead the search for partners. At the same time, privately held BentleyForbes has launched an effort to secure equity partners for hotel and resort properties, naming Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels to lead that search.

David W. Cobb, president and CEO of BentleyForbes, tells GlobeSt.com that the company intends to keep a substantial minority stake in all of its properties and that it sees an opportunity to expand significantly by taking advantage of the size, quality and favorable financing of its portfolio to draw in equity investors. The plan, essentially, is to take money out of the existing properties via the JV route and recycle it back into new deals, Cobb explains.

One of the factors that should help to attract partners is the financing on the properties, Cobb notes. “We have fixed-rate, long-term debt that can’t be replicated in light of the dislocations in today’s capital markets,” the BentleyForbes president says.

The BentleyForbes office holdings are approximately 93% leased, with improving fundamentals in terms of occupancy rates, rental rates and NOIs. The firm plans to let its JV partners determine their exit strategies, but with BentleyForbes retaining the asset management and property management roles for the properties.

In the case of its luxury and resort hotel holdings, founder and chairman C. Frederick Wehba says that the BentleyForbes effort is geared toward assembling a portfolio of world class hospitality properties that will include signature resorts and hotels in top destination markets throughout the US. The company has retained Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels to pair it with an equity partner at its 400-acre Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas to initiate the joint venture program.

Cobb tells GlobeSt.com that the joint venture initiatives are not an effort to cash out of the company’s properties. “If we were trying to do that, we would simply sell the properties and take advantage of the gains, but we want to keep a substantial equity investment in the properties, along with the property management and asset management functions,” the BentleyForbes CEO says.

Founded in 1993, BentleyForbes owns and operates a portfolio of approximately 7.9 million sf in markets across the US. In addition to its Los Angeles headquarters, it maintains regional offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Ft. Lauderdale and Washington, DC.

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