What’s the Next Step for Archstone?

When Lehman Brothers led a leveraged buyout of apartment-company Archstone valued at $22 billion in 2007, it had a code name for the deal: “Project Easy Living.” Ever since, it’s been anything but.

Real Estate News: Freddie Mac to Name CEO

Here is a look at real-estate news in Wednesday’s WSJ.

Moby Hunts Whale of Deal

Moby, the vegan DJ, techno musician, photographer, designer and blogger with sales of more than 20 million albums to his name, has a new role: real-estate savant.

Condo Building Goes Extra Distance

A luxury condominium tower on Fifth Avenue at the upper end of Central Park in East Harlem has been struggling to find buyers. Now it is trying again with a new name: One Museum Mile.

Fortress Investment Planning ResCap Acquisition

News is reporting that Ally Financial is in talks with Fortress Investment
to sell some assets from Ally’s mortgage unit.  According to what Bloomberg calls “three
people with direct knowledge of the matter,” Fortress would buy parts of the
Residential Capital (ResCap) unit, including some of its servicing business as
part of a ResCap bankruptcy filing. 

Ally is facing a number of
financing deadlines in March, and a bankruptcy filing has been expected, but
the pending deal with Fortress may delay the filing.  The company has allegedly been lining up about
$2 billion to fund operations subsequent to the filing.  Bloomberg says that investors holding at least $800 million
in ResCap debt, including Paulson & Co. and Appaloosa Management LP, had
joined together to oppose a bankruptcy filing and have since signed
confidentiality agreements with ResCap to get inside information on the sales
process. Bloomberg said
Fortress may pay more than $1 billion for the deal but it appears that it may
only be bidding on a small portion of the company.

ResCap had assets valued at $16.8
at the end of 2011 including servicing rights valued at $1.2 billion
and is one of the larger servicers of GSE backed mortgages.  Ally Bank, which changed its name from GMAC
in May 2009, has received government bailout funds totaling $17.2 billion. The U.S. Treasury Department holds a
74 percent state in Ally’s common stock and an additional $5.9 billion of
preferred shares that must be converted into common stock by the end of 2016.  Bloomberg quoted Chief Executive Officer
Michael Carpenter as once predicting that an initial public offering could
value the company at $30 billion but then saying last month that the IPO won’t
happen until there’s progress on the mortgage business.  

Fortress is a global investment manager
with approximately $43.7 billion of assets under management.   Its website said it specializes in
asset-based investing in physical and financial assets ranging from real estate
and capital assets to financial assets secured by diversified long-term cash
flows.  Among its assets is ownership of 77 percent of Nationstar Mortgage
Holdings and Fortress could fold the Ally servicing operations into that

Bloomberg, which so far appears
to be the only media outlet reporting the story, said Fortress is being vetted by Fannie
Mae and Freddie Mac to ensure it can handle the servicing volume. Fortress
apparently outbid companies such as Centerbridge Capital Partners LLC to enter
into exclusive talks.

was one of four companies that failed to pass all of the Federal Reserve’s
stress tests because its common capital ratio fell short of the required
benchmarks in the Fed’s stress scenario.  Selling a portion of the ResCap assets may
make it easier to meet the criteria when it resubmits its plan as it has said
it will do. 

…(read more)

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