In one of the largest bulk sales of commercial real estate assets yet. Chase Manhattan Bank has agreed to sell $630 million in loans and property to four investor groups. market sources said.

The sales price was not disclosed, but observers estimated that the assets fetched around $345 million.

That would represent a 45% discount to the face value, but a 5% premium over the $327 million price tag suggested by Chase.

Morgan Stanley the Adviser

The winning bidders are reportedly Colony Capital Inc. of Los Angeles; Lehman Brothers: Aldrich, Eastman, and Waltch, a Boston-based pension fund advisor; and an unspecified Midwest financial institution.

Officials at the winning bidders and at Morgan Stanley & Co., which advised Chase on the deal, either declined comment or did not return calls.

A Chase spokesman also declined to comment on the sale, which is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter.

This month Travelers Corp. sold $634 million of distressed real estate to Quantum Realty Fund, and BankAmerica Corp. this summer sold real estate assets with a face value of $1.36 billion.

In April, Chase announced plans to dispose of $2 billion in real estate assets and took a hit to earnings by setting aside $884 million in reserves to cover the cost. The portfolio at that time was written down to roughly 39% of the original value of the loans, a bank spokesman said. As a result, the deal struck last week is not expected to materially affect earnings.

Fresh Blood in Market

Chase benefited from a market for distressed real estate assets that is flush with new buyers. "Prices have been pushed up considerably," said one source.

"The equity return required by, buyers of these assets has fallen dramatically," he said, from an annual return of more than 20% to "the teens."

Chase originally planned a bulk sale of roughly $950 million to $1 billion of distressed assets, but apparently was able to reduce the amount by cutting separate deals with a number of borrowers.

"This is a pretty common experience of sellers," according to one market source, who said borrowers frequently decide to deal with their existing bank, rather than risk having their loan sold to another party.

"I would guess that the balance of the $1 billion in assets is in the process of being disposed of," he said. Among the investors, Colony Capital purchased two pools of assets located in the West and Southwest with a face value of about $140 million and a suggested price of $62 million. sources said.

Lehman Active in Market

Colony has been one of the largest buyers of commercial mortgages and real estate, purchasing more than $2 billion of these assets since 1991.

Lehman Brothers was rumored to have purchased assets in New York City and the Midwest having a face value of $158 million and suggested price of $94.3 million.

Lehman has been active in the market for distressed real estate assets. For example, it has invested in assets spun off by Westinghouse Electric Corp.

Aldrich Eastman was rumored to have bought assets located in the Northcast and Southeast with a face value of $310 million and a $152.1 million suggested price.

Among the losing bidders, sources said, were one group led jointly by Secured Capital Corp. of Los Angeles and Cargill Financial of Minneapolis, and another led by Goldman Sachs & Co. and General Electric Capital Corp. Both groups bid for the entire package.

Seven Asset Pools

The portfolio in total included roughly 400 assets and was divided by, geographic location into seven asset pools. It includes various types of commercial real estate loans and foreclosed properties.

Chase would still have substantial commercial real estate exposure even if it can liquidate the entire $2 billion special asset portfolio without taking another special charge, said Raphael Soifer, analyst with Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.

Outside of the portfolio set aside for disposition, the bank at midyear held $947, million of nonaccruing commercial real estate loans and $772 million of foreclosed assets, which together equal 33% of the bank's total real estate loans and foreclosed assets. "They are not out of the woods." he said.

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