Warburg Pincus has expanded its Asia footprint in one of real estate’s hottest asset classes as the private equity firm’s Storhub self-storage takes over a Japanese rival.
Singapore-based Storhub has now completed its acquisition of Storage Plus Corp, which has 35 locations across Japan, in a move which will add around 100,000 square feet (9,290 square metres) to the company’s six-country portfolio, and make it one of the largest self-storage operators in Asia’s second-largest economy, according to a statement.
“We are pleased to welcome the Storage PLUS team to the StorHub Group,” Storhub CEO Mike Hagbeck said in a statement. “Storage PLUS is an industry leader in Japan with a long track record of outperformance. This strategic move is set to accelerate our platform growth in Japan.”
The purchase from Japanese developer Ichigo’s Centro unit was agreed to last month and is being revealed just over two weeks after Storhub acquired a majority stake in Malaysian self-storage operator Flexi Storage.
Storhub is acquiring 100 percent of the equity in Storage Plus from Ichigo with the deal boosting the Singapore-based firm’s Japan offering to around 390 owned, leased or managed locations, following the transaction.
Founded in 2006, Storage Plus was named Japan’s top multi-site self-storage operator for 2023 by industry group Self-Storage Association Asia, with the buyout ranking as one of the largest self-storage acquisitions ever in Japan, according to Storhub.
“StorHub is a leading self-storage platform in Asia, with strong backing from Warburg Pincus and a deeply experienced management team,” Dan Morisaku, head of business promotion for Ichigo said in the statement. “Following a strategic review process, we believe StorHub is the ideal partner to lead the next phase of growth of Storage Plus and deliver greater value to our customers.” In the wake of its strategic review Ichigo had engaged JLL to explore the sale of the business, with the property consulting firm having advised it on the disposal.
The Japanese company has locations in Kanagawa prefecture outside of Tokyo, as well as the cities of Sapporo and Fukuoka in addition to 15 stores in the capital.
“In recent years, the Japan market has witnessed robust growth in self-storage demand,” Storhub’s Hagbeck added. “We are excited about the opportunities to bring our 20 years of experience and expertise in self-storage to a broader range of customers across the market.”
Set up in Singapore 20 years ago, Storhub now owns or manages 6.4 million square feet of gross floor area in its 70,000 storage units across Australia, Greater China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea, according to the company.
Warburg Pincus acquired the business from CapitaLand Group in 2019 for S$179.5 million (now $131.5 million) when the portfolio stood at 11 properties in Singapore and another in Shanghai, and has since been expanding it regionally.
“We have continued to see strong underlying demand for self-storage driven by continued urbanization, rising housing prices in Asia’s metropolitan areas and the de-cluttering of apartments due to hybrid work post-pandemic,” said Warburg Pincus managing director Li Fan, who serves as a director on StorHub’s board.
He added that, “We believe Asia’s self-storage industry is approaching an inflection point and is poised for accelerated growth in the coming years.”
Storhub’s Malaysian acquisition, which was announced on 24 August, gave the company a presence in that southeast Asian nation with four locations in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang valley.
That deal was announced just over a half-year after Storhub bought Mandarin Self-Storage in Singapore from US fund manager Heitman for an estimated S$230 million. The company has also been growing organically, opening its sixth location in Hong Kong during October of last year after making its Korea debut in January of 2022.
Driven by the outsized rents achieved when leasing small industrial spaces to individual consumers, and with Asia’s small home sizes boosting the need for storage space, private equity firms have been scrambling to assemble self-storage portfolios in Asia.
In addition to Warburg Pincus and Heitman, Blackstone has been rapidly expanding its Asian holdings in the sector, with the New York-based giant’s Storefriendly joint venture opening two new Hong Kong properties in April of this year.
After selling off Storhub four years ago, CapitaLand leapt back into the sector earlier this year as it teamed with Dutch pension fund manager APG for a S$570 million deal to acquire and expand Extra Space Asia, a Singapore-based player which at the time owned, leased or operated 73 facilities spanning over 1 million square feet (93,000 square metres) of space across six Asian nations.
Also active in the sector is Canada’s Brookfield, which last year acquired a pair of Hong Kong assets to expand its RedBox self-storage business in the city.