By Svea Herbst-Bayliss
BOSTON, Jan 30 (Reuters) - LXP Industrial Trust LXP.N, a U.S. warehouse-focused real estate investment trust, said on Sunday it had received an expression of interest from hedge fund Land & Buildings Investment Management to acquire it for $4.5 billion.
LXP plans to review Land & Buildings' proposal with its advisers before deciding on next steps, it said in a statement disclosing a letter from the hedge fund.
Land & Buildings, which is run by real estate investor Jonathan Litt, said in the letter to LXP's chief executive and chairman Wilson Eglin that it was expressing "its willingness" to offer $16 per share in cash, and that the offer price could go up if due diligence unearthed more value.
That compares with LXP's last close of $14.41 on Friday.
The expression of interest, which Land & Buildings said in the letter does not constitute a binding offer, was first reported by Reuters.
The acquisition would be worth about $6 billion when LXP's $1.5 billion debt pile is taken into account. Land & Buildings, which manages roughly $500 million, did not identify any financing sources for the potential bid in the letter. But it said financial institutions and other capital providers it spoke to were "highly confident" of their ability to provide the necessary funds.
Land & Buildings added that any deal with LXP would not hinge on a financing contingency, and that it was prepared to enter into a confidentiality agreement and start due diligence right away.
Litt, who nominated himself and another candidate to LXP's board in December, has criticized the company for a decline in earnings over Eglin's 18-year tenure, arguing that some of its peers in the industrial sector have delivered stronger returns.
LXP has responded that the company was for years in the midst of a transformation into an industrial real estate investment trust, and that since 2018 it has significantly outperformed single-tenant peers.
The company said in November that it has benefited from supply chain challenges as tenants are eager to have additional space to house inventory.
LXP's stock price has climbed 38% during the last 52 weeks, compared to an 18% rise in the S&P 500 Index. Land & Buildings' Opportunity fund returned 43% in 2021.
Litt's approach to LXP is the latest among a number of proposed leveraged buyouts by activist hedge funds that also includes a $13 billion deal for Citrix Systems by hedge fund Elliott Management's private equity unit and Vista Equity Partners that is expected to be announced later this week.
(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Boston; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Edwina Gibbs)
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