Friday, July 31, 2015

Mitch Morgan buys out AIG, Berwind in apartment deal

The partners "chose to sell their interests to me"

Mitch Morgan buys out AIG, Berwind in apartment deal

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Morgan Properties Inc., the biggest apartment-complex owner based in Pennsylvania, has bought out American International Group of New York and Berwind Property Group of Newtown Square in a series of recent deals, and is now an exclusive owner of 15,000 apartments in 76 complexes that were formerly owned by partnerships.

Similarly, AIG has taken title to a smaller number of complexes that were formerly co-owned with Morgan.

Owner Mitchell Morgan says the partners "chose to sell their interests to me." In a statement, he said his company raised the money "solely from internal equity sources," without needing loans or new investors. He estimated the value of these apartments Morgan now owns outright at $1.5 billion. The firm is based in King of Prussia.

The deals include 5,000 apartments formerly co-owned with Berwind, which still owns 18,000 apartments across the US, says coo Art Pasquarella; and also some of the 17,000 apartments in 86 complexes, mostly in New Jersey, which Morgan and partner American International Group bought from Kushner Cos. for $1.9 billion at the height of the property-market bubble in 2007.

Morgan and AIG bought those units, mostly in New Jersey, after Kushner founder Charles Kushner went to prison for illegal campaign contributions to ex-New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, among other offenses. Morgan is a leading donor to Republican and Israel causes and has hosted former President Bush at his Main Line home.

A year after the Kushner deal, AIG had problems raising money for the apartments due to its financial collapse, bailout and financial restrictions by the Federal Reserve. On Morgan's behalf, then-U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter (R/D-Pa.) sent a representative to encourage the Fed to let Morgan spend the money, as I reported in 2009 here.

Morgan and Kushner also ended up in court over disputed settlement payments; that litigation has been resolved, according to a person familiar with the disputes.

In all, Morgan Properties controlled over 30,000 apartments as of Jan. 1, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. The company controls 99 complexes along the Northeast and mid-Atlantic coast, of which it owns 94 outright and 5 with partners.

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PhillyDeals posts drafts, transcripts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area business, which he's been writing since 1989.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn and taught writing at St. Joseph's. He has written thousands of columns and articles for the Inquirer, Bloomberg and other media, wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com, distefano251@gmail.com, 215.854.5194 or 302.652.2004.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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