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Goldman bets on warehouses as virus spurs online shopping

New York

GOLDMAN Sachs Group's merchant banking division has struck a deal to invest in warehouses across the United States, in a bet that e-commerce will accelerate and drive demand for logistics facilities.

The bank is partnering with Dallas-based Dalfen Industrial on a group of 46 "last-mile" industrial facilities, a statement on Wednesday said. The properties - in metro areas including Atlanta, Chicago, Phoenix, Houston and Cincinnati - are valued at about US$500 million, said a person with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified, discussing the deal terms.

A Goldman Sachs representative declined to comment.

In these bleak times, warehouses have been a bright spot for commercial real estate investors. Even before the Covid-19 outbreak, Blackstone Group and Prologis spent tens of billions of US dollars consolidating the industry.

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Those bets have looked prescient as the pandemic accelerated the shift to online shopping, spurring Amazon.com and other companies to lease more logistics facilities, especially the last-mile centres that are close to where people live.

Warehouses are a "beneficiary of the Covid crisis", said Sean Dalfen, the company's president and chief investment officer. "We're seen as the safe haven."

While sales of most commercialproperty asset classes dropped 70 per cent or more in the second quarter as the virus plunged the economy into turmoil, deals for industrial facilities fell only 50 per cent from a year earlier, data from Real Capital Analytics showed.

Dalfen said the portfolio Goldman Sachs is investing in received about 10 bids. It is 94 per cent occupied and has tenants including Amazon, Frito-Lay and Sherwin Williams, the statement said. BLOOMBERG

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