BlackRock Acquisition Extends Commercial R/E Reach

January 19, 2010 ( - BlackRock, Inc. has acquired a firm that it says will expand its commercial real estate capabilities.

BlackRock says that is has acquired substantially all the assets of Helix Financial Group LLC, , a Charlotte, North Carolina based company that provides advisory, valuation and analytics solutions to commercial real estate lenders and investors.  According to the announcement, the acquisition further expands the commercial real estate capabilities of BlackRock Solutions, including its Financial Markets Advisory Group practice.      

Helix Services

Helix Financial Group is a provider of advisory, risk management and analytical services to commercial banks, investment managers and equity investors in the commercial real estate arena, and also provides other commercial real estate related outsourcing solutions to institutional financial investors. Since its founding in 2004, Helix Financial has underwritten over $100 billion of commercial real estate loans and in aggregate has served over 80 clients, according to the announcement. Helix presently employs 120 professionals, with its U.S. based staff augmented by off-shore staffing in Gurgaon, India, according to the firm. Among other products, Helix has developed a loan level database and credit modeling system that allows users to analyze property cash flows, loan defaults and loss severities within one platform.      

Helix will be fully integrated into BlackRock Solutions, a unit of BlackRock that offers a range of tools and services designed to help institutions understand and manage their capital markets exposures and risks.  According to the firm, BlackRock Solutions offers a suite of investment tools “designed to support a highly controlled, scalable and efficient investment management process”.  Aladdin, its enterprise investment platform, combines risk analytics with portfolio management, trading and operations tools. In total over $8 trillion in assets are processed on the Aladdin platform, according to the firm.   

BlackRock says that its Financial Markets Advisory practice provides advisory, valuation and risk assessment services and specialized asset management and disposition services. Since the summer of 2007, the Financial Markets Advisory Group has provided valuation and risk assessments on portfolios having aggregate principal balance in excess of $4.5 trillion, according to the firm.     

“We look forward to integrating Helix’s professionals into our modeling, advisory, valuation and loan workout practice in order to provide enhanced and superior service to our clients holding complex commercial real estate exposures,” commented Craig S. Phillips, Managing Director and global head of the Financial Markets Advisory Group in BlackRock Solutions, in a press release. “In addition to valuable industry relationships and asset class experience, Helix has unique technology, data and intellectual capital that will supplement our present commercial real estate analytics and workout capabilities.”       

“Helix recognized that we needed a partner to accommodate the growing needs of our clients,” said Kevin Donlon, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Helix. “In addition to facilitating the broader dissemination of our risk technology to clients, our affiliation with BlackRock will allow us to extend underwriting, valuation and asset management services to our clients on a fully integrated basis. At present, the considerable stress in commercial real estate valuations has created substantial client demand for the full range of our services.”       

According to the announcement, AllBridge Investments was most recently the lead stakeholder in Helix Financial Group LLC. AllBridge, Helix management and other stakeholders have sold their shares in the Company to BlackRock. AllBridge Investments, an affiliate of Allied Capital Corporation, is an asset manager focused on the commercial real estate securities and loan sector. Helix Financial Group will continue to provide advisory, credit and underwriting support to AllBridge Investments following the acquisition.    

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.