Swedish Private Equity Firm Agrees to Buy Exeter Property Group in $1.9B Merger

Exeter's recent developments include this 673,920-square-foot speculative industrial building in Edwardsville, Ill.

STOCKHOLM AND CONSHOHOCKEN, PA. — EQT AB, a private equity firm based in Stockholm, has agreed to purchase Exeter Property Group, an industrial real estate owner and developer based in the Philadelphia suburb of Conshohocken. EQT plans to purchase Exeter using $800 million in EQT shares and nearly $1.1 billion in cash for a total acquisition price of nearly $1.9 billion, including the refinancing of Exeter’s existing $300 million in debt.

Founded in 2006, Exeter has approximately $10 billion in assets under management. In addition to industrial properties, Exeter also owns life sciences and office space in the United States and Europe.

Exeter has 37 offices in North America, Europe and Asia. EQT expects Exeter’s revenue in 2020 to total $135 million.

Exeter’s recent acquisitions include Creekview Corporate Center in metro Dallas, a 193,000-square-foot industrial building in Illinois and a new distribution center in Pennsylvania totaling 1.2 million square feet. The company also recently developed a 673,920-square-foot speculative industrial building in the St. Louis suburb of Edwardsville, Ill.

Upon completion of the transaction, Exeter will operate as EQT Exeter and will be part of the EQT Real Estate Assets division, which comprises EQT Infrastructure and EQT Real Estate. EQT Exeter will be run independently but will be able to utilize the broader EQT operating platform.

Ward Fitzgerald, CEO and founder of Exeter, will join EQT AB’s executive committee. Fitzgerald says that for Exeter’s day-to-day operations, it will be “business as usual.”

“We will continue to be fully focused on driving returns by utilizing our unique local execution of small and mid-cap acquisitions, adhering to our real estate solutions ethic to our over 1,200 corporate client/tenants and directly performing our own leasing, property management and development,” says Fitzgerald. “We are excited about the opportunity ahead of us to become more of a global leader in real estate by teaming with EQT.”

J.P. Morgan acted as financial advisor to EQT AB in the transaction, while Kirkland & Ellis and Vinge acted as legal counsel. Berkshire Global Advisors acted as financial adviser to Exeter, and Goodwin Proctor acted as legal counsel.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including anti-trust and certain fund investor clearances, with completion expected to take place in the second quarter of 2021.

— John Nelson

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