Sovran, LifeStorage to Merge in $1.3B Deal

The transaction will allow Sovran Self Storage to expand its nationwide portfolio by an additional 6.5 million square feet.
LifeStorage, Bridgeview, Ill.

LifeStorage, Bridgeview, Ill.

New York—Well, the self-storage REIT sector is about to shrink again. Sovran Self Storage Inc., which operates its facilities under the name Uncle Bob’s Self Storage, has inked a deal to acquire LifeStorage LP for a whopping $1.3 billion—in cash.

The merger will allow Sovran, the fifth largest self-storage operator in the world with 550 facilities in 26 states, to expand its 30 million-square-foot portfolio by an additional 6.5 million square feet in one fell swoop. LifeStorage, which ranks as the sixth largest private owner of self-storage facilities in the U.S., brings to the table 84 facilities spanning 9 states, with an average occupancy level of 87.1 percent and an average age of 12 years. “LifeStorage has built a high-quality national portfolio, and these stores will enhance and complement our physical footprint and digital presence,” David Rogers, CEO of Sovran, said in a prepared statement.

Size isn’t the only thing that matters; geography is important, too. The LifeStorage portfolio will bolster Sovran’s presence in Chicago, Austin, Dallas, Orlando and Los Angeles. Additionally, Sovran will be able to establish an immediate footprint in the highly coveted Northern California and Las Vegas markets. Analysts are looking favorably upon the deal.

“While the company is paying up for size and new markets, we believe adding Northern California and Las Vegas (as well as adding density in existing markets) should help improve portfolio metrics and warrant an implied cap rate closer to the other self-storage peers,” according to a note by financial services firm Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. “Though pricing is aggressive, this portfolio makes sense for SSS given the improvement in demos, and given SSS’s attractive cost of equity, we believe it’s the right time to be buying.”

Sovran is readying itself to make the billion-dollar payment. The REIT has already obtained $1.3 billion in bridge financing, but will ultimately finance the transaction with proceeds from equity and debt offerings. And soon after announcing the LifeStorage agreement, Sovran revealed the launch of a public offering of 6 million shares of common stock, with expectations of gaining net proceeds totaling approximately $578.4 million to be utilized for debt repayment, general corporate purposes and, of course, the partial funding of the LifeStorage purchase.

The announcement of the pending Sovran-LifeStorage merger comes less than one year after the closing of Extra Space Storage Inc.’s approximately $1.4 billion acquisition of SmartStop Self Storage Inc. The deal helped boost investment volume in the self-storage arena to $2.8 billion in 2015. These are good times for self-storage REITs, which, according research by real estate investment services firm Marcus & Millichap, “have outperformed most other investment funds, pulling in consistent returns and steady stock appreciation.” The market continues to thrive, backed by a series of strong demand drivers, including job growth, transient residents and tighter living spaces in rental housing. And then there’s the fact that, as noted in a self-storage report by MJ Partners Real Estate Services, there are roughly 2.2 million marriages in the U.S. annually—and 825,000 divorces.

Sovran’s acquisition of LifeStorage is on track to close in the third quarter of 2016.