MinterEllison closes $2bn real estate deal – over the phone

Australia’s largest property deal of 2019 between Urbanest and Scape Australia has completed over a telephone call, in what legal and consulting firm MinterEllison says shows how business is adapting to working in the current COVID-19 environment.

Wissam Abwi, M&A partner at MinterEllison, and co-lead on the deal said: “Despite the challenges brought by COVID-19 in the closing weeks of the deal, the acquisition of Urbanest’s large student accommodation portfolio successfully closed last Friday.”

The deal completion was run electronically over a call, which is highly unusual for a deal of this size.

Leah Wright, property partner at MinterEllison and co-lead on the transaction, praised her team for adapting quickly to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions: “As the deal came to a close, there were logistical challenges involved in preparing documents for signing while in lockdown. All parties had to be accommodating under the circumstances, including a reliance on confirmations and undertakings.”

“All parties had to be accommodating under the circumstances,” Leah Wright, property partner, MinterEllison.

While the real estate market is likely to experience significant challenges in the wake of COVID-19, the firm said that the successful completion of a deal of this size, augers well for other transactions that are currently, or soon to be, in play.

“Closing a $2 billion deal such as Urbanest that had complex regulatory challenges, in what were difficult circumstances, demonstrates that parties who adapt quickly to COVID-19 restrictions and work together with common purpose, will continue to complete deals in a timely manner,” said Abwi.