Blackstone Group LP (NYSE:BX)'s real estate unit may gain control of Multi Corp. after acquiring almost half of the European shopping-mall developer's 900 million euros ($1.2 billion) of corporate debt in the past nine months, said two people with knowledge of the situation.
Multi, based in Gouda, the Netherlands, told lenders in March it wouldn't pay interest on loans it obtained to acquire land as commercial-property values were peaking, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the talks are private. The prospect that the debt won't be paid means lenders are more likely to write down or sell their holdings, the person said.
Gaining control of Multi would give Blackstone a pan- European retail business, according to one of the people. The Dutch company operates in 14 European countries and Turkey, according to its website. Were Blackstone to gain control, the private-equity firm probably would recapitalize the mall developer, the person said.
Peter Rose, a spokesman for New York-based Blackstone, declined to comment on a possible deal. Multi didn't immediately respond outside regular European business hours to an e-mail requesting comment about its debt.
Multi's approximately 900 million euros of debt matures in March 2015, said a person familiar with the terms. Blackstone's European property unit paid about 50 cents per $1 of face value for the debt it acquired, the person said. Multi's other lenders include banks in Portugal, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands, according to the person.
Blackstone's purchase of Multi debt was first reported yesterday by the Financial Times.