Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC and Frasers Property Limited are teaming up with Singapore-based flexible officer operator JustCo to invest $177 million in building a co-working platform across Southeast Asia.
JustCo, which has spaces open or upcoming in Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, will use the funds to grow its network into other Asian markets such as Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Greater China, South Korea, Japan, Australia and India, according to a statement.
JustCo already ranked as the most valuable homegrown co-working operator in Southeast Asia after closing a $12 million investment from Thai developer Sansiri last October that brought its valuation to $200 million. The startup’s new partnership with GIC and Singapore-listed real estate firm Frasers Property marks the latest milestone for Asia’s booming co-working sector, after WeWork snapped up Shanghai-based competitor naked Hub last month.
JustCo Ramps up Cross-Border Expansion
Founded in 2015, JustCo has seven locations in Singapore, including a 40,000 square foot (3,700 square metre) space at the UIC Building on Shenton Way, flagged as the city’s largest interconnected co-working centre when it opened last year.
The company also has two upcoming centres measuring 45,000 square feet each in the Sathorn and Lumpini areas of Bangkok. And last December, JustCo unveiled a joint venture with Indonesian conglomerate Gunung Sewu to launch four centres in the country, starting with a 20,000 square foot co-working space slated to open by July in Jakarta’s Sudirman business district.
Founded and led by Kong Wan Sing, the high-end flexible space brand is operated by JustGroup, which started up serviced office platform JustOffice in 2011. The rapidly growing business has a headcount of over 100, it revealed in March, and plans to move its headquarters from Singapore’s 120 Robinson Road to Marina One East Tower.
JustGroup’s combined network spans 21 centres open or under development in Singapore, Shanghai, Bangkok and Jakarta.
Singapore Investors Raise Bet on Co-Working
For GIC, which has an estimated $359 billion in assets under management, the newly announced deal marks a major boost in the sovereign fund’s exposure to the flexible office market. Last May, GIC made its first foray into China’s sharing economy real estate sector by leading a RMB 100 million ($14.5 million) round of investment in Beijing-based flexible office and co-living startup 5Lmeet. The Chinese firm was founded by Mao Daqing, better known as the founder of mainland co-working heavyweight Ucommune.
“As a long-term value investor, we are attracted by the [co-working] sector’s growth potential in the long run and believe that the fragmented nature of the sector presents opportunities for consolidation,” commented Lee Kok Sun, chief investment officer of GIC Real Estate in a statement on the JustCo partnership. “Our investment in JustCo will support it in its next phase of growth outside of Singapore, as it continues to engage with entrepreneurs and enterprises across Asia.”
The other party to the deal, Frasers Property — an investment arm of Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s Frasers Centrepoint Limited — has an asset portfolio totalling about S$30 billion ($22.3 billion) across residential and commercial property types from Asia Pacific to Europe.
“The combination of thoughtful design, curated service offerings and smart-office technology, can transform office buildings into inspiring, collaborative workspaces that enhance our workplace communities,” said Panote Sirivadhanabhakdi, group CEO of Frasers Property in the statement.