May 24, 2015

Commerical Real Estate

CNL Financial Going Global

Diane Sears | 3/1/2009
CNL building in Orlando
CNL occupies two towers that flank Orlando City Hall downtown.

Amid a gloomy real estate picture, Orlando-based CNL Financial Group is moving to break into the international commercial real estate market. The company has teamed up with Australian company Macquarie Group to form CNL Macquarie Global Growth Trust, a real estate investment trust that will invest about 30% of its funds outside the U.S.

The REIT will target office, retail and shopping centers, business and industrial parks, multifamily housing and healthcare properties. It represents a shift for privately owned CNL, which previously focused on restaurants, big-box retail, hotels, healthcare and leisure properties such as ski, mountain or golf resorts and tourist attractions. The company is flush with cash after selling three REITs for $14.8 billion over the past three years, before the market went soft.

Both companies have pledged a combined $40 million. CNL will identify and manage investment properties primarily in the U.S.; Macquarie will take the lead on the global investments. Macquarie manages $180 billion in assets and has offices in Europe, Asia and South Africa, along with Australia and North America. CNL has formed or acquired companies with a total of $23 billion in assets since it was founded in 1973 and has offices in Florida, Atlanta, Dallas and San Diego.

CNL and its subsidiaries, all founded by entrepreneur James Seneff, occupy one of the most visible sites in downtown Orlando in twin office towers on either side of City Hall, and CNL Bank is the largest community bank in central Florida, with $1.05 billion in assets.

The new REIT is not initially expected to create jobs at CNL, where its headquarters will be located, says Curtis McWilliams, the REIT’s president, but it will be a major focus for the company in its search for new investments. Robert Bourne of CNL will be its CEO.

“We truly believe if you have the capital available to you to thoughtfully invest later this year and early next year, there will be tremendous opportunities you’ll be able to take advantage of,” McWilliams says.

Tags: Central

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