Singapore-listed AIMS APAC REIT (AA REIT) announced the appointment of Russell Ng as the new chief executive of the industrial-focused trust last week.
Ng’s appointment came amid the trust’s strong performance in the quarter that ended 30 June, with a gross revenue of S$31.8 million ($23.6 million), up 16.8 percent from the same period in the previous year, and a portfolio occupancy of 95.7 percent.
The new boss will find his skills put to the test quickly, as AA REIT announced last week that it was in talks to acquire the grocery store chain Woolworths’ Sydney headquarters, the city’s largest suburban office offering in two years.
In his new role as AA REIT’s CEO, Ng will be responsible for the trust’s overall planning, management and operations. He will succeed Wee Lih Koh, who has stepped down to “pursue other professional interests”, according to the trust’s filing with the Singapore Exchange.
Up until his recent appointment to lead AA REIT, Ng served as head of investor relations, investments and partnerships, reporting to Koh. For about a year beginning in 2020, he was responsible for the trust’s investment activities, strengthening investor relationships and developing new capital and business partnerships.
The CEO-designate will continue to be based in Singapore to oversee the AA REIT’s portfolio in Singapore and Australia. His role will be effective on 29 November 2021, subject to the obtaining of relevant regulatory approval.
Before joining AA REIT last year, Ng became head of funds for Asia at Lendlease in 2018, serving in the role for two years. Prior to that post, he was director of fund management at Singapore-based AEP Investment Management, where he worked with investors and the board of directors to meet fund objectives from 2013 to 2018.
With 15 years of real estate experience, the 40-year-old Ng graduated from Macquarie University in Sydney with a bachelor of applied finance and a bachelor of commerce. Beginning in 2006, he served at Goodman, Mapletree and Soilbuild Business Space REIT before joining AEP Investment Management in 2013.
His predecessor, the 49-year-old Koh, was AA REIT’s chief executive for 13 years beginning in 2008. The two had worked closely together to develop and implement the trust’s investment strategy since Ng became head of investor relations last year.
AA REIT is sponsored by AIMS Financial Group, a Sydney-based fund manager that has over A$2 billion ($1.4 billion) of completed total asset acquisition and investment volume since 2009. The trust is managed by AIMS APAC REIT Management Ltd, which is wholly owned by the sponsor.
The REIT is currently in due diligence to acquire the Sydney headquarters of Woolworths, a supermarket and grocery chain, according to the Business Times. The 44,911 square metre (483,418 square foot) site was put up for sale in June by the Australian-Korean investment and fund manager Inmark Asset Management, which had bought it for A$336.5 million ($247.5 million) in 2016.
The sale of Woolworths’ headquarters, brokered by Colliers and CBRE, is Sydney’s largest suburban office offering since 2019. But the manager clarified in an announcement to the Singapore Exchange that no decision had been made as of 9 September.
AA REIT’s appointment of a new chief executive follows the expansion of its warehouse portfolio. Its most recent acquisition was in January, when the trust announced plans to buy the Sime Darby Business Centre in Singapore for S$102 million ($76.6 million).
In August last year, the REIT agreed to buy a four-storey warehouse in Singapore’s Jurong district for S$129.6 million ($94.4 million), which became 2020’s largest industrial deal at the time.
AA REIT’s portfolio currently includes 26 properties in Singapore and two in Australia. Its largest development project to date is the site on 20 Gul Way, completed in 2014, which comprises a five-storey warehouse and logistics facility and yields a gross floor area of 1,656,485 square feet (153,892 square metres).