Centuria joins fray for GPT fund

21 May 2016

Publication: The Australian (print)

Date: 21 May 2016

Author: Ben Wilmot

Centuria Capital and its listed property vehicle have emerged with a 15.2 per cent stake in the GPT Metro Office Fund, with the group’s entry to the register coming ahead of a likely cash-and-scrip bid to rival Growthpoint Properties Australia’s $310  million offer.

Centuria, with the aid of Moelis & Co, on Thursday raided the listed landlord’s register, securing a 11.6 per cent stake in the trust. It topped this up yesterday with the buying reported by The Australian’s BusinessNow blog.

Centuria, which has former Mirvac chief Nick Collishaw leading its Centuria Metropolitan REIT, a $397m office and industrial trust, could seek to combine the portfolios of that fund and GPT Metro to create a vehicle with more than $800m worth of properties across Australia.

Forming a large-scale trust would pave the way for it to enter major property indices, putting on the radar of more institutions, and giving Mr Collishaw the backing to re-emerge as a player in larger scale properties.

Centuria said yesterday it was “considering various options in relation to a proposal involving GMF” and was “seeking to engage with GPT”. The holdings it has taken in the GPT fund are split between parent Centuria Capital, with 12.6 per cent, and Centuria Metropolitan REIT, with 2.6 per cent.

Centuria’s move could derail Growthpoint’s plans for a merger with the GPT fund. South African-backed Growthpoint had won the support of GPT Metro’s independent directors and was half-way through it due diligence when Centuria swooped.

Growthpoint and GPT Metro declined to comment yesterday. Investment bank UBS is acting for the independent directors, Fort Street is advising GPT and Growthpoint is advised by Goldman Sachs.

Centuria Capital’s unlisted funds arm has also been busy. It yesterday teamed up with global investment firm BlackRock to buy Chatswood landmark The Zenith for $279.1m.

The pair bought the property at 821 Pacific Highway from a 50-50 venture between Dexus Property Group and GPT Group’s wholesale office fund. The Australian reported that the pair were interested in the twin tower 21-level office buildings last month in a deal that was brokered by CBRE and Savills Australia. The property is 94 per cent occupied by area.