Pacific Equity Partners is in late-stage talks to buy lifestyle communities business Serenitas, put up for sale by investment bank Goldman Sachs.
Serenitas owns and operates lifestyle communities around the country. Nic Walker
The private equity firm has been in and around the business since late last year, but Street Talk understands Australia’s largest buyout firm is back on the hook. Rothschild and Herbert Smith Freehills are on the tools for PEP, with both sides working towards a signed deal.
The sale price was expected to be about $1 billion, sources said. Law firm Baker McKenzie was on the tools for Serenitas, alongside Goldman.
The acquisition is expected to be housed in PEP’s second Secure Assets Fund, for which PEP’s SAF deal makers, led by Andrew Charlier, recently locked in $1.4 billion. That raise, which initially targeted $1 billion, capitalised on the tearaway success of PEP’s first secure assets fund, thanks to dream deal smart metres play Intellihub.
While SAF I was big on energy and utilities – think community energy services business WINConnect and remote power outfit Zenith Energy – its second iteration is expected to cast the net wider and also look at transport and logistics, waste, data and telecommunications, and social and agricultural infrastructure.
The fund seeks companies with protected cashflows, operating step-change and strategic repositioning potential and targets a gross internal rate of return between 14 per cent and 16 per cent. Charlier works alongside fellow managing directors Evan Hattersley and Paul Foster. Of note, Foster was understood to have spearheaded the Serenitas transaction.
Serenitas was founded in 2017 and is a joint venture between Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC and local mid-market private equity firm Tasman Capital, led by seasoned campaigner Rob Nichols.
The firm owns a portfolio of lifestyle communities around the country, including the Western Australian National Lifestyle Villages brand, Thyme Lifestyle Resorts and National Lifestyle Villages.
Things have been heating up in the retirement sector this year as buyers weigh up exposure to Australia’s ageing population. Lendlease tapped Macquarie Capital earlier this year to find a joint venture partner to take a 50 per cent interest in its $1.7 billion-plus Australian Communities business as it looks to release capital.
Elsewhere, advisory firm Gresham is busy selling Lendlease’s final 25 per cent stake in its Australian retirement living business. The portfolio spans 75 retirement villages, home to about 17,000 residents across Australia.
For Lendlease, the sell-down is the latest instalment of its long-held plan to dial down the capital it has invested in retirement assets, to redeploy it elsewhere in its global property workbook.
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