CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Monday's deal between Charleston Town Center owner Forest City Enterprises, Inc. and the Australian-based QIC investment firm to purchase an ownership stake in the downtown mall comes during an apparent buying spree by foreigners in the U.S. commercial property market.
QIC, which stands for Queensland Investment Corp., is paying about $415 million and taking on a roughly equal amount of pre-existing debt to purchase a 49 percent stake in eight Forest City-owned regional malls, including the Town Center.
Forest City will still manage the day-to-day operations of the malls but will use the capital raised by the sale to pay down debt and renovate some of the properties.
The acquisition comes amid a growing wave of foreign commercial property buys.
On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported international investors poured in $7.97 billion to purchase U.S. commercial properties from January through April — a 25 percent jump from the same period last year.
Last year was no dry spell either.
According to an analysis from Real Capital Analytics Inc., the $27.5 billion in property purchases by foreign investors last year was almost six times the $4.7 billion low that occurred following the market bottom in 2009.
Analysts think the spree will continue.
"This is the tip of the iceberg," real estate adviser Sonny Kalsi told Bloomberg. "You're going to see a lot more capital coming in. They like where the U.S. is in the real estate cycle."