Real estate fund manager ARA exploring listing in 2-3 years: CEO

Warburg Pincus-backed ARA Asset Management, one of the largest Asian real estate fund managers, is exploring a dual stock market listing, including one in Singapore, in the next two to three years, group CEO and co-founder John Lim said.

“A dual listing is a likely scenario. Singapore definitely will be one venue,” Mr Lim told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference organised by DealStreetAsia on Tuesday.

ARA Group and its associates have grown their assets under management to S$83 billion from S$36 billion in 2017 when Mr Lim partnered with Warburg Pincus and China’s AVIC Trust to take ARA private, valuing the company at S$1.8 billion.

Besides Singapore, other listing options include Shanghai, Hong Kong, London and the United States, Mr Lim said. “Our transformation is done. This is the time for us to grow,” he said, adding that he expected the company to have a valuation of between S$4 billion to S$5 billion in two to three years.

ARA manages 21 public and private real estate investment trusts (REITs) in Asia Pacific and over 70 private funds. This year, ARA US Hospitality Trust, comprising 38 US upscale hotels, listed in Singapore and raised US$498 million.

ARA counts Li Ka-shing-backed CK Asset Holdings and Straits Trading Company among its other investors.

Mr Lim said ARA planned to expand its assets under management to S$100 billion within two years, supported by growing demand from a wide range of global investors hunting for yields.

Since its delisting, ARA has acquired stakes in Japanese and Australian real estate investment managers, set up real estate investment platforms in Europe and the US, as well as launched a South-east Asia infrastructure fund.

“We should have our first close of the infrastructure fund in the first quarter of next year,” said Mr Lim. The US$1 billion fund will target investments in utilities, airports, seaports and roads.

“This is where the region needs to transform and there’s a big market for this,” he said.

He said a stock market listing of ARA will provide it a platform to raise money, create liquidity in its shares and offer investors an option to trim down their holdings.

Singapore has become one of the world’s biggest hubs to list REITS and business trusts, boosted by a supportive regulatory environment and growing demand from investors looking for stable yields.

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