Verizon’s Record-Breaking Deal
- May 21, 2015
In the largest sale-leaseback deal in suburban New Jersey, Verizon has sold its 1.4 million-square-foot operations center in Basking Ridge, N.J., to Mesirow Realty Sale-Leaseback, Inc. for $650 million.
The sale value is also the highest paid per square foot of any suburban sale-leaseback transaction in the United States, according to Cushman & Wakefield, which acted as the financial advisor and exclusive placement agent for Verizon.
The Cushman & Wakefield team was led by its real estate investment banking group in combination with the company’s New York brokerage and New Jersey investment sales teams.
As part of the deal, Verizon will lease back the facility from Mesirow for 20 years. The campus, which encompasses about 135 acres in Somerset County, houses a full range of businesses within Verizon Communications and is also the headquarters for Verizon’s wireless unit. Verizon has approximately 3,900 full-time employees at the site. The property was built about 40 years ago by AT&T and sold to Pharmacia Corp. in 2002 for $200 million, according to NJBiz.com. Pharmacia was acquired by Pfizer, which then sold the campus to Verizon in 2005. Since purchasing the property, Verizon made a “significant investment” to extensively upgrade and “create a world-class headquarters,” the company said in a prepared statement.
“We delivered an execution that optimized financing terms for the purchaser through a carefully crafted, credit tenant lease,” Cushman & Wakefield executive vice president Michael Rotchford, head of corporate finance and investment banking, said in a news release. “This structure successfully delivers current and long-term value for both Verizon and Mesirow.”
Mesirow Realty Sale-Leaseback, Inc., is a division of Mesirow Financial, a diversified financial services firm headquartered in Chicago.
Like a growing number of corporations, including several in New Jersey, Verizon is taking advantage of the improving economy to raise capital by selling its real estate and arranging leasing deals. Among the New Jersey-based corporations engaging in sale-leaseback deals this year are Sony Electronics, Inc., which sold its Park Ridge, N.J., office building to Hornrock Properties and will lease part of it back for two years, and Sharp Electronics Corp., which arranged a $35 million, 12-year sale-leaseback deal with buyer Sitex Corp., according to NJBiz.com.
“This real estate deal provides our company with immediate financial benefits and allows us to extract significant value from this asset while continuing to occupy the entirety of its office space,” John Vazquez, senior vice president and head of global real estate for Verizon, stated in the release. “Cushman & Wakefield achieved our strategic objectives by maximizing value and flexibility through the best possible deal structure.”
Josh Kuriloff, executive vice chairman of Cushman & Wakefield’s New York brokerage unit, said in a statement that the firm worked “closely with the outstanding team of professionals at Verizon to help the company meet its real estate-related goals.”
Led by Rotchford, the Cushman & Wakefield investment banking team included David Wenk, Robert Elms and Mark Todrys. They worked in conjunction with Kuriloff and David Bernhaut, vice chairman of the Cushman & Wakefield capital markets group in New Jersey. Cushman & Wakefield maintains its relationship with Verizon through its Corporate Occupier and Investor Service (CIS) group.
The Verizon team was led by Vazquez and included James Tousignant and Robert Haines as well as internal Verizon counsel Steven Cohen. DLA Piper served as counsel for Verizon under the leadership of Mark Hurel.
Mesirow Realty Sale-Leaseback, Inc. was led by Garry Cohen and Douglas Baker. Goldberg Kohn served as legal representation.