Boardroom02.jpgCitigroup’s real estate arm is set to invest around Rs 400 crore ($100 million) in Bangalore-headquartered Golden Gate Properties for about 10% stake, sources said.

The deal is expected to value the tier-II real estate firm at a little over $1 billion. This marks Citigroup’s back-to-back deals in the domestic real estate space in the last fortnight. Early last week, the global financial giant unveiled $160 million play in Delhi-based BPTP.

Golden Gate is primarily into residential market with about 20,000 units under development totaling 23 million sq ft across southern cities such as Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. The company also has substantial land holdings extending into emerging centres like Mysore and Mangalore. Besides, Golden Gate is believed to be foraying into SEZ and mixed use development.

In January this year, Deutche Bank investment unit RREEF closed $70 million transaction picking up under 10% stake in the company. The private equity juggernaut is now increasingly open to investing in tier-II or even in start-up realty firms, as the sectoral transparency issues are clearing up to an extent.

Citi’s fresh investments are coming in when it was expected that the largest banking group in the US, reeling under $18 billion write-offs due to the subprime crisis, may go slow in ploughing more money into the realty sector in India. Several global banks have booked massive losses as the financial crisis that kicked in with the meltdown in the US housing market gained speed in the last two quarters.

However, more realty firms are now opening up to private equity as their fund raising plans in the capital markets have run into trouble. For instance, several firms, including the biggest domestic player DLF, have been eyeing REIT listing on the Singapore Exchange, but are forced to delay the plan in the wake of market turbulence.
Source:Economic Times, 17. April, 2008.