BlackRock Expands Commercial Real Estate Services with Helix Acquisition
BlackRock (BLK) acquired nearly all the assets of Charlotte, NC-based Helix Financial Group - an advisory, valuation and analytics firm serving commercial real estate lenders and investors. The transaction closed January 15th and results in a broader offering of commercial real estate services at BlackRock, a global investment management firm with $3.2trn under management as of Sept. 30, 2009. “In addition to facilitating the broader dissemination of our risk technology to clients, our affiliation with BlackRock will allow us to extend underwriting, valuation and asset management services to our clients on a fully integrated basis," said Helix managing partner Kevin Donlon. "At present, the considerable stress in commercial real estate valuations has created substantial client demand for the full range of our services.” The Helix business will integrate with BlackRock Solutions, which processes more than $8trn in assets through its enterprise investment platform, Aladdin. The Financial Markets Advisory practice within BlackRock Solutions will also benefit from the acquisition, which will expand its offering of valuation and risk assessment services and specialized asset management and disposition services. “We look forward to integrating Helix’s professionals into our modeling, advisory, valuation and loan workout practice in order to provide enhanced and superior service to our clients holding complex commercial real estate exposures,” said Craig Phillips, managing director and global head of the Financial Markets Advisory Group. At the same time BlackRock acquired the Helix assets, it also acquired the majority equity stake in Helix from AllBridge Investments, which had invested in the firm for 18 months. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. "We acquired Helix at a time of unprecedented distress in the mortgage markets and provided the firm with both the critical economic stability, as well as the additional technical resources necessary to help position the company into the attractive asset BlackRock has sought," said AllBridge managing partner Larry Brown in a press statement. BlackRock has seen its share of the distressed mortgage market. BlackRock most recently occupied headlines when it and Tishman Speyer Properties said this month they would miss a scheduled repayment to senior lenders on a bond used to finance debt from the joint purchase of Manhattan's Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. The missed payment came after BlackRock in October raised at least $500m in private equity funding to participate in the US Treasury Department's Legacy Securities Public-Private Investment Program (PPIP). Write to Diana Golobay. Disclaimer: The author holds no relevant investment positions.