ALAMEDA, Calif. — California has picked a winning bidder for its plan to sell 11 office buildings and lease them back in a deal that will lead to the redemption or defeasance of more than $1 billion in outstanding lease-revenue debt.
California First LLC, a consortium led by privately owned real estate firm Hines and private-equity firm Antarctica Capital Real Estate, will buy the 11 buildings for $2.33 billion. The state will lease them back for at least 20 years.
The deal announced Monday was driven by the budget deficit. California’s deficit-ridden general fund will contain one-time revenue of $1.2 billion after retiring the lease-revenue bonds backed by the real estate.
“This sale will allow us to bring in desperately needed revenues and free the state from the ongoing costs and risks of owning real estate,” Ron Diedrich, acting director of the Department of General Services, said in a statement.
The 11 properties include centrally located buildings in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland, and a mix of central and suburban Sacramento locations. Their high-profile tenants include the California Public Utilities Commission, the state Supreme Court, and the Sacramento headquarters of the attorney general.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger first proposed the sale and leaseback in May 2009. The Legislature authorized the process to go forward that July.
Some lawmakers subsequently criticized the proposal, but the plan was affirmed again last week when legislators adopted the fiscal 2011 budget, paving the way for Monday’s sale announcement.
According to an analysis prepared by the Legislative Analyst’s Office in April, eight of the buildings are encumbered by lease-revenue bond debt.
The biggest share is from the Capital East End Complex, five buildings just east of the state capitol that opened between 2002 and 2003. The complex had $381.1 million in bond principal outstanding as of July 1.
Those bonds, sold in December 2002 by the California State Public Works Board, are not callable until December 2012, according to their official statement.
When the Schwarzenegger administration first proposed the sale and leaseback, it projected California would net $600 million and $675 million from the deal after paying off the bonds. The state did a lot better.
There were more than 300 bids, including 30 for the entire portfolio of 11 buildings, according to Kevin Shannon of CB Richard Ellis, who handled the sale for the state.
“Far from a fire sale, this was a stiff, multiple offer competition that generated favorable pricing for the state,” he said in a statement. “Current historically low interest rates have allowed the state to obtain extraordinary pricing comparable with peak level capitalization rates with leaseback rents well below peak market.”
Shannon said California also derives the added benefit of getting out of the commercial real estate management business, while transferring asset management to Hines — a globally recognized leader.
California First has nine equity investors other than the two headline firms, according to the Department of General Services’ formal report on the sale.
The consortium will fund the deal with 40% equity and the balance from a JPMorgan loan, the report said.
Among the losing bidders was a proposal to finance the transaction with municipal bond debt. That proposal was prepared by the California Municipal Finance Authority, an independent conduit issuing agency, broker-dealers Stone & Youngberg LLC, and AEW Capital Management, according to CMFA meeting minutes.