Canadian REIT Enters U.S., Buying Kansas-Based Lodging Enterprises

American Hotel Income Properties REIT, led by Canadian hotel veteran Rob O’Neill, has made its first acquisition in the U.S., purchasing Lodging Enterprises, a chain with 32 hotels in 19 states.

American Hotel Income Properties REIT L.P., led by Canadian hotel veteran Rob O’Neill, has made its first acquisition in the United States, purchasing Lodging Enterprises L.L.C., a chain with 32 hotels in 19 states.

The amount was not disclosed but AHIP recently closed its initial public offering (IPO) raising about $93 million. The REIT has said it planned to use the net proceeds of the IPO to purchase the 32-hotel chain that currently has 2,565 rooms. Used primarily as railroad employee lodging, the portfolio operates under the Oak Tree Inn brand and is located in secondary markets like Yuma, Ariz.; Livonia, La.; Hermiston, Ore., and Buffalo, N.Y. The acquisition includes 24 diners that operate under the Penny’s Diners brand; a large development pipeline of hotels under construction and long-term guaranteed room night contracts with three of the largest U.S. freight railroad companies.

The deal was arranged by Jones Lang LaSalle’s Hotels & Hospitality Group, which represented Kansas-based Lodging Enterprises. Managing directors Al Calhoun and Mark Fair led the JLL team.

“Through a competitive bidding process, we were able to secure excellent terms of sale for Lodging Enterprises, L.L.C.,” Calhoun said in a news release. “The company’s wide-ranging portfolio, including a strong development pipeline, made it an exceptional acquisition opportunity for AHIP and allows the Canadian REIT to make an immediate impact in the U.S. market.”

O’Neill, CEO of AHIP and a co-founder of Canadian Hotel Income Properties REIT and the Coast Hotel Chain, said in the same release that the Jones Lang LaSalle team “provided complete and detailed information on a timely basis that assisted in facilitating this complex cross-border public market transaction.”

In an earlier statement about his REIT’s successful IPO, O’Neill said, “The initial portfolio of hotel properties represents a unique and stable platform upon which we intend to further develop AHIP’s considerable potential.”

The REIT’s web site notes that it is focusing on U.S. real estate opportunities because it believes there are increasing demands for hotels and a stagnant supply of properties and good acquisition possibilities. It is teaming with SunOne Developments Inc., an affiliate of the Sunstone Group, for construction of future Oak Tree Inn properties. Sunstone co-owns AHIP in a 50-50 split with the O’Neill Group.

A new report by Jones Lang LaSalle’s Capital Markets group notes that Canadian investors were the most dominant foreign investor in U.S. assets during the past three years. Canadian pension funds were particularly active investors, the report noted, citing the CPP Investment Board as executing $2.11 billion in deals in 2012.

The report states that much of the Canadian activity has been in retail, but Fair, of JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality Group, noted that, “the limited service hotel market remains a top target for both domestic and international investors that are seeking flexibility, resiliency and strong returns for their portfolios.”

Fair said in the JLL news release that the group expects a “robust select service transaction market in the year ahead, as cap rates continue to trend downward and buy sentiment remains high.”

The Jones Lang LaSalle’s Hotels & Hospitality Group recently represented Host Hotels & Resorts in the $239 million sale of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis to an undisclosed buyer for a reported $293million. The 1,663-room hotel at 265 Peachtree Center Ave. NE is the city’s largest hotel.