Real estate fund manager ARA Asset Management has tapped former diplomat and investment veteran Grant Dooley to lead its newly formed infrastructure platform as chief executive officer. Based in Singapore, Dooley is tasked with overseeing the ARA Infrastructure division and driving the growth of the infrastructure fund management business globally, the firm announced.
Dooley joins ARA from Hastings Fund Management, where he led the firm’s operations in the region as head of Asia. Prior to that, he served as Australia’s Consul-General in Guangzhou, China.
ARA indicated that it is working towards launching its maiden infrastructure fund by the third quarter of the year. The company hired Kanishk Bhatia as Head of Infrastructure Investment for Asia in January, although ARA only officially announced the creation of a new infrastructure platform today.
Bhatia now reports to Dooley, a representative of ARA informed Mingtiandi.
ARA Makes First Infrastructure Play
“ARA’s move into the infrastructure business is our latest step in evolving from a global integrated real estate fund manager into a global integrated real assets fund management business,” commented John Lim, Group CEO of ARA in a statement. “It is an exciting time for the company as we expand our geographical presence, and at the same time, move into a new asset class.”
Lim added that ARA is seeing strong demand from infrastructure investors, “particularly as the Belt and Road Initiative gains momentum and governments in the rapidly developing economies in Asia and Europe open up to private investment.”
“ARA already has a very well-established, reputable fund management platform with the support of strong partners and global investors,” Dooley said in the statement. “This support, coupled with the quality of the specialist infrastructure investment team we are building and the Group’s ever-expanding network and resources in the areas of finance and research, means we are well-placed to get the business off the ground very quickly.”
During his tenure at Hastings, Dooley focussed on market-entry strategy and fundraising while luring Asian institutional investors to partner with the Melbourne-based infrastructure specialist. Dooley’s more than 25 years of experience also includes serving as a senior official in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, where he managed a team responsible for Australia’s economic and trade relationship with China.
Singapore-Based Fund Manager Branches Out
The new business line marks ARA’s first infrastructure play as the Singapore-headquartered firm ramps up its global presence. Founded in 2002, ARA manages over 90 properties, with around S$40 billion ($30.5 billion) of assets under management spanning 57 million square feet across Asia Pacific. The company manages five listed REITs and six privately held REITs in South Korea, along with nine private real estate funds.
Last month, ARA expanded its presence in Australia by paying $317 million for a 19.5 percent stake in ASX-listed Cromwell Property Group. The move came just a week after the company set up a new Europe desk, hiring London-based real estate veteran Mark Ebbinghaus to drive the firm’s business growth in the continent.
The flurry of overseas moves follows ARA’s $1.78 billion privatisation last year, which was backed by US private equity firm Warburg Pincus and China’s AVIC Trust.