Barings expands APAC real estate debt business

The firm’s real estate equity business last week received a A$600m commitment to back Australian development opportunities.

US investment manager Barings has established its real estate debt business in Asia-Pacific, PERE has learned.

The firm has issued a total of A$320.4 million ($225 million; €219 million) in real estate debt across three loans in Australia and New Zealand since it entered the market in June 2021, according to a statement seen by PERE exclusively.

In Australia, Barings provided A$162.2 million and A$40.3 million to student housing platform Scape and real estate firm Arklife, respectively. The former was used to fund two purpose built student accommodation projects, while the latter was lent to a recently completed build-to-rent project in Brisbane. In New Zealand, the firm provided a NZ$130 million ($79.8 million; $77.6 million) loan to listed developer Winton Land to fund the remaining site works and subdivision of residential lots and commercial units in Te Kauwhata, North Island.

Meanwhile, the firm has also appointed Abhishek Srivastava to its real estate debt team in Sydney. Srivastava, who joined as senior analyst, previously spent three years at Commonwealth Bank, most recently as a senior associate in its infrastructure and real estate business. With the hire of Srivastava, the firm has a real estate debt team of four in the region.

Sam Mellor, head of Europe and Asia-Pacific real estate debt, said in the statement that expanding the firm’s loan book to APAC is an “exciting and important step in the ongoing growth of our global real estate debt platform”. Barings’ real estate debt business currently has a combined total of more than $30.6 billion of commitments across 14 countries globally.

“The breadth of these loans, which include BTR, PBSA and other residential sectors, is a strong signifier of our capabilities in this market and we are very keen to identify more such opportunities,” Mellor added.

The growth of Barings’ real estate debt business comes amid wider efforts to expand its real estate coverage in Asia-Pacific. In August, the firm acquired Australia’s Altis Property Group in a deal that brought with it an established fund management platform comprising 44 real estate equity professionals focusing on value-add strategies across industrial, office, retail warehouse, residential and other sectors in Australia and New Zealand. Prior to that, Barings had not made any real estate equity investments in the region.

Last week, Altis announced that it had secured A$600 million in fresh commitments from two global investment houses to acquire a $1.2 billion-plus portfolio of Australian commercial property, including development and value-add opportunities across sectors.