John Lim, group CEO of ARA Asset Management, has been elected chairman of the Asia Pacific Real Estate Association (APREA), an industry non-profit that promotes cross-border investment in the region’s real estate.
The well-known investor succeeds former GIC real estate executive Lim Swe Guan (no relation to the ARA boss), who will remain on APREA’s board and assume the title of Immediate Past Chairman at the Singapore-based organisation.
Lim’s election is recognition of the growing prominence of his firm, ARA Asset Management, in the region’s property investment realm. Over the past 15 years, John Lim has built ARA into one of Asia’s leading REIT and private equity real estate managers, with around S$36 billion ($26.5 billion) in total assets under management.
Starting last year, the former industrial engineer led the $1.78 billion buyout of ARA along with US private equity giant Warburg Pincus and China’s AVIC Trust.
“I look forward to building on APREA’s strong foundations, especially in advocacy, helping forge a world class research program and fostering a more connected industry,” Lim commented in a statement.
“Global investors are looking to capture a greater share of Asia’s growth dynamics,” Lim added. “At present, most are under-allocated to Asia and APREA can help build a bridge between established Western markets and Asia’s emerging real estate opportunities.”
Lim to Head Key Regional Real Estate Group
Formed in 2005, APREA represents many of the region’s top real estate investors, developers, fund managers and other industry professionals. The association works with governments to open new real estate markets and set up industry standards and tax systems to foster real estate as an asset class, with a focus on REITs.
Lim has a long-standing relationship with APREA that includes serving as senior vice president from 2009 to 2011. In his new role, the 30-year industry veteran will champion high-quality research and greater information flow and connectivity between APREA members.
“We also intend to do more to promote the critical role our industry plays in helping governments meet their urbanisation goals and to lift millions of people into Asia’s middle class,” said Lim.
“I am very optimistic about the long-term fundamentals of Asia’s real estate markets and so a top priority is to open-up attractive investment marketplaces in more Asian cities,” he added.
APREA’s chapters across Asia Pacific include Singapore, mainland China and Hong Kong, Japan, India, Australia, Malaysia and the Philippines. The association says its members collectively represent more than $1 trillion of assets under management.
Outgoing chairman Lim Swe Guan also serves as Independent Director at Singapore-based warehouse giant Global Logistic Properties (GLP). “John takes on the chairman’s role at a time when the global real estate compass is pointing to continuing huge growth in Asian markets,” he said in the statement.
ARA Founder Brings REIT Expertise
Lim started ARA in 2002 with backing from Hong Kong real estate magnate Li Ka-shing. The regional REIT pioneer took the fund management firm public on the Singapore exchange in 2007, before it was delisted this past April.
ARA now has around 1,300 staff in seven countries and manages nearly 100 properties measuring 57 million square feet (5.3 million square metres) in Asia Pacific, according to its corporate website. The group manages six real estate investment trusts, including Fortune REIT – Asia’s first cross-border REIT – Suntec REIT and Cache Logistics Trust, as well as ten private funds investing in Asian properties.
Among other deals guided by ARA, Singapore-listed Suntec REIT spent A$417 million ($328 million) to acquire a 50 percent stake in a downtown Melbourne office project from Australia’s Mirvac in July. And in June, Straits Real Estate partnered with ARA-managed funds to pick up an office tower in downtown Sydney from a fund run by Propertylink for A$275 million ($207.3 million).