Cromwell’s Weightman: Europe first, then Asia

The chief executive of the Cromwell Property Group said that it will be a ‘natural expansion’ for the Australian firm to look at Asia two years after expanding into Europe.

Australia-listed property developer and investment manager, Cromwell Property Group, has its eyes set on Asia, according to its chief executive Paul Weightman.

In a Blueprint interview with PERE, he said he rates Singapore highly as an investment destination and expresses optimism that the prospects for the Japanese market will be boosted by the Abe government’s reforms. He added that other Asian markets are tougher to access due to governance and transparency issues.

Cromwell had already begun expansion outside of Australia at the beginning of 2015, when it acquired the Valad Europe business for €145 million. The investment provided Cromwell with a substantial European asset management platform, with 22 offices in 13 European countries.

According to Weightman, the firm had been searching for a way to expand its business overseas since 2008, but he said that the US market was too difficult to crack because of the depth of competition.

“Europe is going through a recovery. That has taken quantitative easing and a lot of de-risking at a political level, but probably for the first time since we acquired the business, we have genuine interest in Europe as a growth story,” said Weightman.

He added: “It is a natural expansion for us to access Asian capital to invest in Europe. It is difficult for us to do at the moment because there are few opportunities to do that in a diversified, liquid way. That is a focus for us.”

The Brisbane-based firm has assets under management totaling €6.7bn, with office representing 56.9 percent, retail 18.5 percent, industrial 14.9 percent and property securities and other investment types 9.7 percent.

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