Cromwell launches $2bn bid for the Investa Office Fund

The Brisbane-based real estate firm is proposing an all cash offer for Investa’s listed office portfolio.

Cromwell Property Group has launched an unsolicited bid for the A$3.6 billion ($2.72 billion; €2.55 billion) for the Investa Office Fund (IOF), according to a filing with the Australian Stock Exchange.

The Brisbane-based real estate firm is proposing to buy all the shares it does not already own in the listed property fund with an all cash offer of A$4.85 per share. Cromwell owns a 9.83 percent stake in IOF that it purchased in April last year. Included in the bid price is a 10 cents per share distribution.

The offer would cost Cromwell nearly A$3 billion.

Independent directors of Investa said in the stock exchange statement that the proposal follows discussions with Cromwell since November 2016 but it is still subject to a number of conditions including undertaking due diligence.

The Investa directors have not yet formed a view on the merits of Cromwell’s bid, the statement added.

The property fund which owns some of Australia’s largest offices was previously the focus of a drawn-out takeover battle which ultimately saw Dexus Property Group fall short in May last year.

Shareholders of the 22-property portfolio voted 60-40 to reject the offer from Australia's largest landlord at an extraordinary general meeting at Sydney's Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel last May. Dexus required at least 75 percent approval from IOF shareholders to proceed.

The fund is the last piece remaining to be exited in the long-running sale of the Australian real estate Investa platform.

The major part of the platform – the prime office portfolio called the Investa Property Trust – was acquired by CIC for A$2.45 billion in July 2015, which went on to appoint Mirvac as the asset manager for the portfolio in December. Investa Land, another division of Investa, was acquired by Proprium Capital Partners reportedly for $340 million the same year.