Trim the Hedges: Morgan Stanley, Lennar Enter Joint Venture
As home builders struggle to keep their heads above water, it appears that at least one investment bank is sensing a buying opportunity: a Morgan Stanley unit entered into a joint venture with Lennar to acquire 11,000 homesites in 32 communities located throughout the country. Figures were not disclosed. Lennar will retain 20 percent ownership interest and 50 percent voting rights in the investment venture, it said. The land portfolio acquired by the venture includes a mix of raw land as well as partially and fully developed homesites in both active and future communities located across California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada and New Jersey. "The combined expertise and resources provided by the Lennar / Morgan Stanley team will allow us to maximize the value of this portfolio and provide a footprint to capitalize on inefficiencies in today's residential real estate market," said Stuart Miller, president and CEO of Lennar. "This transaction provides us with increased liquidity and flexibility at an opportune time." Lennar will manage the land investment venture's operations and will receive fees for its services. As a part of the transaction, Lennar also said it had entered into option agreements and rights of first offer providing the home builder the opportunity to purchase certain finished homesites at current market values at the time of exercise from the investment venture. What I'd be curious to know is the discount at which Lennar "sold" the homesites to the investment venture -- because you can be sure Morgan Stanley got in cheap on this one.