Singapore real estate fund manager ARA eyes listing in 2-3 years

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Warburg Pincus-backed ARA Asset Management Ltd, 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.

FILE PHOTO: An SGX sign is pictured at Singapore's stock exchange July 19, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

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

ARA Group and its associates have grown their assets under management to S$83 billion from S$36 billion ($26.2 billion) in 2017 when 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, Lim said.

“Our transformation is done. This is the time for us to grow,” said Lim, adding that he expected the company to have a valuation of between S$4 billion to S$5 billion in 2-3 years.

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

ARA counts Li Ka-shing-backed CK Asset Holdings 1113.HK and Straits Trading Company Ltd among its other investors.

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, U.s. and launched a Southeast Asia infrastructure fund.

“We should have our first close of the infrastructure fund in the first quarter of next year,” said Lim.

The $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.

Lim 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.

Reporting by Anshuman Daga; editing by David Evans