Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund has become one of the biggest foreign investors in Australia, thanks to acquisitions of offices, warehouses and other assets, and now it plans to set up a permanent presence in the country as it looks for more properties.
“We are confident in the long-term growth of the Australian market and believe that an on-the-ground team will enhance our ability to capture more investment opportunities in this dynamic market,” said GIC chief executive Lim Chow Kiat. “We are already very pleased with our existing portfolio in Australia, especially in real estate.”
Lim went on to say that the on-the-ground presence would support the management of the sovereign fund’s existing assets and enhance interaction with local partners as the $488 billion fund looks to ramp up its holdings Down Under.
Sheds, Offices and More
GIC’s biggest Aussie deal this year was announced last month when the firm teamed up with Hong Kong-listed ESR to buy a logistics platform from Blackstone for $2.9 billion. That purchase of the Milestone Logistics portfolio gave GIC and its partner 45 warehouse assets spanning 1.4 million square metres (15 million square feet).
Last September, the giant investor from one of Asia’s smallest countries had committed A$480 million (then $337 million) to a core-plus logistics partnership in Australia with ESR, after agreeing to an A$1 billion development joint venture with the same partner in June.
The Singaporean fund has also bet on offices Down Under, including agreeing to pay $170 million in February of this year for a 25 percent stake in a Brookfield project in Perth, Western Australia.
And in August of last year, GIC dove into Australian retail when it teamed up with Charter Hall, the country’s biggest real estate fund manager, to buy a 49 percent stake in a portfolio of convenience stores operated by Ampol, Australia’s biggest refiner, for A$682 million.
The opening of GIC’s Sydney office is likely to signal more Aussie acquisitions by Singapore players, as the milestone underlines top-level interest in Australian markets from a country where many of the largest real estate enterprises are controlled by the government.
SGX-listed Ascendas REIT, which is managed by a unit of CapitaLand, last December spent $218 million purchasing 1 Thomas Holt Drive in Sydney as the fifth Australian office park property in its portfolio.
Also last year, the trust paid about $122 million to acquire an office project in Sydney’s Macquarie Exchange area from Frasers Property and Winten Group. CapitaLand, which controls Ascendas REIT’s manager, is majority owned by Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s other primary government investment vehicle, which also controls Mapletree Investments and Keppel Group.
“GIC has been an early investor in key markets and the anticipated opening of the Sydney office is testament to the steady growth of the GIC portfolio in Australia,” the fund noted in its statement. “GIC will continue to actively source for opportunities across various sectors and partner with businesses with strong long-term growth prospects.”
In addition to its Singapore headquarters in Capital Tower on Robinson Road, GIC operates Asian offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Mumbai, Tokyo and Seoul.
Outside of Asia Pacific, the fund has opened its doors in New York, San Francisco, Sao Paulo and London.