Canadian company buys majority stake in Verde Realty
LAS CRUCES, Jan 25, 2013 (Menafn - Las Cruces Sun-News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --A recent change in ownership for a major landholder in the Santa Teresa area may be another sign of booming interest in the cross-border economy of southern Dona Ana County.
Brookfield Asset Management, a Canadian company with projects worldwide, paid 886 million for a majority stake in the Texas-based Verde Realty company, according to a news release. The deal closed in late December.
Verde Realty has been a major player in the southern county area for the past decade and owns roughly 20,000 acres of land. Much of the acreage is vacant, but some contains industrial and warehouse buildings.
The land is adjacent to a massive, 400 million intermodal shipping facility being built by Union Pacific --a project that has boosted investment interest in Santa Teresa, economic experts have said.
The interest from a company as large as Brookfield Asset Management is positive sign, acknowledged James Robinson, president of J.H. Rose Logistics, which runs a warehouse in Santa Teresa.
"If they made that investment down here, they're going to make it work, one way or another," he said.
Robinson said the Santa Teresa area is poised for growth, with the nearby Dona Ana County airport equipped to handle cargo jets, a large Foxconn manufacturing plant just across the border in Mexico. And the Union Pacific facility is "going to be a big stimulus here," he said.
"This is a diamond in the rough that's fixing to be a real gem," he said.
said his company previously had rented space in a Verde-owned building, but has since moved. He said Verde Realty was a good landlord.
Jerry Pacheco, vice president of the Border Industrial Association, too, said the size of the new company is noteworthy.
"We're looking at this as a positive thing," he said. "It's exciting a company of that stature is interested in a local company."
Brookfield Asset Management's manages about 150 billion in assets, according to the company. Its wide-ranging projects include developments in London, hydroelectric facilities in the southeastern United States, a toll road in Brazil, and an Australian railroad, which recently underwent a 600 million expansion, according to the company's 2012 third-quarter financial report.
Verde Realty's assets include 111 industrial distribution facilities and 18 million square feet of building space along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Brookfield Asset Management acquired 81 percent of the common equity in Verde Group, according to a news release.
"We look forward to building on our reputation for delivering well-located, high quality distribution facilities for our clients and executing our growth strategy that includes acquisitions and property development," said Ronald Blankenship, CEO of Verde Realty, in a statement.
Verde Realty at one time had plans for a massive new urban-style housing, industrial and commercial development centered around Santa Teresa. It unveiled a sweeping plan in 2005. But the company in 2007 failed in its attempt to get approval for a special taxing district Verde officials said was key to the project. And then the economic recession hit.
Verde Realty in 2010 also attempted to go public with a 300 million stock offering that was aimed at helping the company buy more industrial buildings and apartment complexes. Verde in 2011 sold its apartment complexes in the Southwest and got out of that business. It also dropped its plan to go public.
Interim Dona Ana County Manager Sue Padilla said the shifting ownership stake doesn't impact Verde Realty's master plan documents still on file with the county.
Verde Realty's focus has shifted from carrying out the large-scale development to selling off smaller parcels to other developers, who in turn build projects, Padilla said.
In addition to other activity, the Santa Teresa Port of Entry on the international border recently underwent a 12 million expansion, said Bill Mattiace, executive director for the New Mexico Border Authority. It added two passenger lanes and one commercial lane, he said.
Plus, a new truck inspection facility is about to break ground nearby, Mattiace said.
Both projects should help the economic growth in the south county, Mattiace said.
Robinson said efforts by the state are adding to the boom. A regulation change now allows trucks from Mexico to carry more cargo than previously into Santa Teresa.
"I just think this is going to be a winner for everybody here one of these days," he said.
Diana Alba Soular can be reached at (575) 541-5443; follow her on Twitter @AlbaSoular
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