Takeover bid for GPT metro fund looms as Centuria takes 15 per cent stake

20 May 2016

Publication: Australian Financial Review

Date: 20 May 2016

Author: Nick Lenaghan

AFR photo

Listed fund manager Centuria Capital, backed by the listed suburban office property it manages, has seized a 15.2 per cent stake in the GPT Metro Office Fund, raising the prospect of full-blown takeover battle.

Centuria is yet to confirm that it will proceed to a takeover offer, but many in the market expect an offer is imminent. Centuria is advised by Moelis.

At the same time, the $300 million GPT Metro Office Fund is already entertaining a sweetened $310 million bid from Growthpoint Properties Australia.

The GPT fund, which controls a portfolio of suburban office towers, intended to recommend that revised offer, after Growthpoint improved on its original offer by 4.1 per cent.

Growthpoint is now undertaking due diligence on the GPT fund and is not thought to have any significant stake in its target.

On Friday, Centuria, led by John McBain, revealed it has acquired a “strategic interest” in the GPT fund after a lightning raid on its register.

Centuria Capital, the listed parent, holds a 12.6 per cent stake. Centuria Metropolitan REIT has acquired a 2.6 per cent stake.

Both Centuria Metropolitan REIT and the GPT fund, which was spun out of its listed parent GPT Group, have similar investment strategies and have some investors in common.

Those factors add to the likelihood Centuria will soon launch its own bid to merge the two funds through a takeover.

The GPT suburban office fund, advised by UBS, has already wrangled a better bid from Growthpoint, which is backed by South African money and highly acquisitive.