With $1.9B Deal for Exeter Property Group, Sweden’s EQT Makes US Power Play

The private equity giant is banking on industrial, office and life science properties in the U.S. and Europe.
UNFI Distribution Center, acquired by Exeter Property Group in 2019. Image courtesy of NKF

Swedish private equity firm EQT AB is making a major move into North American real estate by snapping up U.S.-based Exeter Property Group in a $1.87 billion deal, gaining control of a business with more than $10 billion of assets under management.

Through the transaction, Stockholm-based EQT, which had EUR 52 billion ($63.6 billion) under management at the end of 2020, will acquire 100 percent of Exeter’s management company. The firm will also acquire 25 percent of the right to carried interest in selected Exeter funds, including Exeter’s fifth U.S. industrial value fund, as well as 35 percent of the carried interest of future funds. The total consideration of $1.87 billion includes new EQT shares of $800 million and $1.07 billion in cash.

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Based in the Philadelphia suburb of Conshohocken, Exeter focuses on acquiring, developing and managing all commercial property types including mid-rise office, life science, big box and last-mile warehouse and multifamily properties primarily across the U.S. and Europe. The business, which is majority owned by Ward Fitzgerald and other Exeter management, was founded in 2006 and has 37 local deal offices. The firm is projected to generate about $135 million in revenue and $80 million in EBITDA for 2020.

Trans-Atlantic merger

EQT invests in real estate and infrastructure alongside its private capital business and has already advised on more than 130 real estate projects spanning multiple asset classes in Europe. Last August, the EQT Infrastructure IV fund agreed to acquire data center building and operator EdgeConneX Inc. from an investor group led by Providence Equity Partners. The Exeter acquisition comes shortly after EQT Growth invested in Wolt, a leading food delivery platform, as part of the Helsinki-based startup’s $530 million capital raise.

Exeter, which invests across the top 50 distribution markets in North America, Europe and China, last November acquired a 267,500-square-foot industrial facility in Richmond, Calif., through a $50.1 million sale-leaseback deal. That purchase followed the company’s acquisition of the 1.2 million-square-foot Ritner Logistics Center in Newville, Pa., for $85 million in October.