Singapore-based real estate fund manager ARA Asset Management is continuing a global growth strategy by acquiring a 19.5 percent stake in an Aussie real estate investment manager, just a week after announcing a new platform for investments in Europe.
The fund manager with some $30 billion in assets under management is buying the stake in ASX-listed Cromwell Property Group from Redefine Properties, a South Africa-based REIT, ARA said in a statement. The A$405.9 million ($317 million) stake sale entails 386.5 million stapled securities, which are being sold at A$1.05 per unit, according to reports.
“Asia Pacific remains a focus for ARA even as the company expands its footprint globally,” John Lim, ARA Group CEO said in the statement. “We entered Australia in 2015 and have been steadily increasing our investments in the market over the last three years.”
ARA Builds a Portfolio Down Under
Last July, ARA-managed Suntec REIT purchased a 50 percent stake in a downtown Melbourne office project from Australian property group Mirvac for A$417 million ($328 million). In the following month, ARA teamed up with Straits Real Estate to buy 320 Pitt Street, an office building in downtown Sydney from local investment firm Propertylink for A$275 million ($207.3 million).
“Australia continues to offer strong investment and capital raising opportunities to support the growth of our funds platforms,” Lim commented. “We are attracted to the strength and depth of Cromwell’s platforms, track record of pursuing value-enhancing real estate strategies and strong corporate governance.”
Cromwell Property Group operates across Australia, New Zealand and ten countries in Europe, with A$11.2 billion ($8.7 million) assets under management. Its portfolio includes The Qantas Global Headquarters, a 50,000 square metre office park near Sydney Airport.
Singapore Fund Manager Steps Up Global Expansion
The deal comes a week after ARA announced a new European platform under the leadership of real estate veteran Mark Ebbinghaus. Based in London, Ebbinghaus is tasked with driving the firm’s business growth in Europe and pursuing investment opportunities in the role of Senior Advisor of ARA Europe Desk.
The accelerated overseas moves follow ARA’s $1.78 billion privatisation last year, which was backed by US private equity giant Warburg Pincus and China’s AVIC Trust.
Since 2002, group founder and CEO John Lim has transformed ARA into one of Asia’s leading REIT and private equity real estate managers. The company manages over 90 properties totalling 57 million square feet in Asia Pacific and has around 1,300 staff in eight countries.
This past January, ARA hired former Ascendas executive Chia Nam Toon as its new assistant CEO. Reporting to Lim, Chia is responsible for overseeing the company’s REITs division and developing new REITs across Asia, the US and Europe. ARA manages five real estate investment trusts and six privately-held REITs in South Korea.