ARA Asset Management, a Warburg Pincus-backed real estate fund manager based in Singapore, has raised its stake in Australia-listed real estate investor Cromwell Property Group just days after it criticised the Australian firm for alleged poor strategic and operating performance.
In a disclosure to the Australian Securities Exchange, Cromwell confirmed that ARA increased its stake to 20.09 per cent from 19.5 per cent after buying an additional 45 million shares in Cromwell at A$1.33 per share.
ARA first became a Cromwell stakeholder in March 2018 with the purchase of a 19.5 per cent stake in the company from Redefine Properties for A$405 million ($278 million).
ARA’s move to increase its stake in Cromwell comes ahead of a crucial vote for a board position at the Australian fund manager, according to a report by the Australian Financial Review.
There has also been speculation ARA was looking to take over the Brisbane-based property fund manager. Cromwell has refuted these reports, saying ARA has not made any overtures to its board.
Listed on the ASX, Cromwell Property Group operates in three continents. It is included in the S&P/ASX 200 and had a market capitalisation of A$2 billion ($1.6 billion), a direct property investment portfolio in Australia valued at A$2.5 billion ($1.9 billion) and total assets under management of A$11.2 billion ($8.8 billion) across Australia, New Zealand and Europe, as of March 2018.
ARA Asset Management, on the other hand, manages 11 public and private real estate investment trusts and nine private real estate funds with assets totalling around S$40 billion ($30.4 billion) in the Asia Pacific.
It recently embarked on its global expansion with the establishment of a European platform and has also increased its presence in Australia through various investments in the last few years.
In the first half of this year, ARA said it had closed over $460 million worth of real estate transactions through its private fund division, ARA Private Funds.