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CBRE arranges one of the largest land sales in the U.S. history

1:55 pm, December 8, 2011

1.2 million-acre sale encompasses 12% of the private land ownership of Nevada; Larger than the size of Rhode Island

RENO, NV- December 8, 2011—CBRE Group, Inc. today announced the completion of one of the largest land sales, by acreage, in U.S. history with the sale of 1.283 million acres of land and minerals in the State of Nevada.

The land, which stretches from Reno to the Utah border along Interstate-80, was purchased by Florida-based Fountain Investments owned M.C. Davis and Heath Rushing for $31 million. Pico Holdings Inc., a La Jolla, Calif.-based public company, was the seller.

Pico Holdings had owned the property for fifteen years. Of the 1.2 million acres involved in the transaction, 483,000 acres, encompassing 750 square miles, were purchased outright as fee-simple land.

Fountain Investments purchased mineral rights for the other 800,000 acres and recently hired Don Pattalock, formerly of Pico Holdings, to serve as the President of New Nevada Resources, a new entity formed to oversee the mineral rights.

Mr. Pattalock will also serve as a senior advisor to New Nevada Lands, the entity created to manage the fee-simple land.

The majority of Nevada’s 110,567 square miles – approximately 85 percent – is either tribal or owned by the federal and state governments, with just 15 percent of the total land area in the State being privately-owned.

The total of this transaction represents just over 12% of the privately-owned land in the State of Nevada, and equates roughly to the size of Rhode Island, according to Steve Lehr, senior managing director with CBRE’s Land Services Group which represented the seller (Pico) in the transaction.

Brett Edwards of CBRE’s Reno office worked with Mr. Lehr on the deal.

“A land sale for more than $30 million is very significant today,” Mr. Lehr said. “The good news is that values have appeared to stabilize.”

Mr. Lehr also notes that while a handful of land deals have traded at prices between $50 and $115 million, most of those involved far less acreage than this transaction.

“By acreage, this is one of the largest, if not the largest, brokered land sale ever. It was an extremely complex transaction due to its sheer size, and the buyer pool for this type of asset is quite limited.”

This is the third major land sale completed by Mr. Lehr and CBRE’s Land Services since 2009.

The group sold the high profile, 13,000-acre Yellowstone Club resort in 2009 in conjunction with CBRE’s Golf Services Group and last year, completed the 7,000-acre sale of Festival Ranch in Phoenix, which is entitled for 14,000 homes and five golf courses.

“The recent sale in Nevada represents a trend of investors seeking hard assets in the US and as hedges against inflation,” according to Mr. Lehr.

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