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Vonovia becomes Sweden’s biggest landlord with US$1.3b deal

[BERLIN] Vonovia SE will become the largest landlord in Sweden after buying Stockholm-based apartment owner Hembla AB for about US$1.3 billion.

Following its 2018 purchase of Victoria Park, the deal is the German company's second in the Swedish market and will increase its portfolio in the country to more than 38,000 apartments, overtaking Rikshem and Heimstaden, according to Vonovia.

Germany's biggest landlord agreed with a unit of Blackstone Group Inc. to acquire 61.2 per cent of the share capital in Hembla for 215 kronor a share, according to a statement on Monday. The acquisition gives Vonovia the opportunity to manage its apartments more efficiently, Chief Executive Officer Rolf Buch said on a conference call.

The purchase price amounts to 12.2 billion kronor (S$1.79 billion), a premium of 11.5 per cent compared to the closing price for Hembla's Class B shares on Sept. 20. Vonovia fell 1.1 per cent to 43.65 euros at 3:20 p.m. in Frankfurt trading. Hembla jumped to trade in line with the offer price.

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The transaction is expected to receive antitrust approval by November and would trigger a mandatory public offer for the remaining Hembla shares within four weeks of the transaction becoming unconditional.

Hembla owns more than 21,000 apartments, mainly in the Stockholm area. The portfolio is valued at nearly 33 billion kronor, according to the company's website. In Germany, Vonovia controls close to 400,000 apartments, and the company is mulling additional acquisitions to reduce its reliance on its home market.

"We are open for further transactions abroad. Diversification, also internationally, lowers risk," Buch said in an interview. "But our acquisition strategy is opportunistic. We don't want to pay too much."

BLOOMBERG