Singapore-based real estate fund manager ARA Asset Management is making its first foray out of Asia Pacific by setting up a new European platform under the leadership of veteran real estate financier Mark Ebbinghaus.
Based in London, Ebbinghaus is responsible for driving the firm’s business growth in Europe and targetting investment opportunities in the role of Senior Advisor of ARA Europe Desk. The executive stepped down from Standard Chartered Bank last September, where he served as global head of real estate and global head of industries.
“As we set our sights on the global stage, we are very excited to embark on furthering our reach beyond our current presence in Asia Pacific,” said John Lim, group CEO of ARA in a statement. “We are glad to have Mark drive our business expansion initiatives in Europe moving forward in the form of REITs, private funds and other fund management-related platforms via merger and acquisitions.”
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Ebbinghaus has more than 35 years of experience in the real estate sector, including over two decades in equities research and investment banking. He worked at Standard Chartered since 2009 based in Singapore and London, and led the formation of the bank’s Industries Group.
Prior to joining Standard Chartered, Ebbinghaus was Asia Head of Real Estate Lodging & Leisure Investment Banking for UBS, where he drove the creation and expansion of the company’s real estate investment banking business. He was based in Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore.
The Chartered Financial Analyst and holder of a Master of Real Estate and Finance from the University of South Australia has been involved with private equity firm Fitzdragon Capital since his departure from Standard Chartered.
“ARA’s growth over the last 15 years has been phenomenal,” Ebbinghaus commented in the statement. “I have had the chance to work with the team in the past, and they have never failed to astound me with their capabilities and achievements.”
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Over the past 15 years, John Lim has built ARA into one of Asia’s leading REIT and private equity real estate managers, with around S$40 billion ($30.2 billion) in total assets under management. The company manages over 90 properties totalling 57 million square feet in Asia Pacific and has around 1,300 staff in eight countries.
The European debut comes as ARA targets international expansion, following its $1.78 billion privatisation last year backed by US private equity giant Warburg Pincus and China’s AVIC Trust.
This past January, ARA hired former Ascendas executive Chia Nam Toon as its new assistant CEO. Reporting to Lim, Chia is tasked with overseeing the company’s REITs division as well as developing new REITs across Asia, the US and Europe. Then in May, the company tapped JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley veteran Stephen Tang to fill a key role with its private funds division.
ARA manages five real estate investment trusts: Fortune REIT (which is dual-listed in Singapore and Hong Kong); Suntec REIT and Cache Logistics Trust (listed in Singapore); and Hui Xian REIT and Prosperity REIT (listed in Hong Kong). The group also manages six privately held REITs in South Korea.