Ex-APG exec Doshi bets on Asian co-living with Warburg Pincus money

The New York-headquartered private equity firm has made a $181m initial entity-level investment into Weave Co-Living, a business set up by the former head of the Dutch investor’s Asian non-listed real estate investments.

Weave Co-Living, a Hong Kong-headquartered co-living rental accommodation platform set up last year by Sachin Doshi, formerly head of Asia-Pacific private real estate at APG Asset Management, has received a major cash boost from one of America’s biggest private equity firms.

Warburg Pincus’s $181 million investment gives it a majority stake in Weave Co-Living. PERE understands the firm made the investment from its $13.4 billion global private equity vehicle, Warburg Pincus Private Equity XII. According to data from the Regents of the University of California, which invested $50 million in Fund XII, the vehicle was generating net IRRs of 4.72 percent as of December 31, 2017.

The New York-headquartered firm also has the option to upsize and invest up to $413.5 million into Weave.

The deal marks its first investment in a rental accommodation platform in Asia-Pacific outside of mainland China. Commenting on the investment, Joseph Gagnon, managing director and head of Asia real estate for Warburg Pincus said: “This partnership builds upon our established investments in the multi-family sector in mainland China and we continue to be attracted to the significant market potential of the sector across key gateway cities in Asia-Pacific, underpinned by strong demand for good quality rental accommodation options.”

In May, Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC partnered with NOVA, a Shanghai-headquartered operator and investment manager co-founded by Warburg Pincus, to establish a $675 million rental apartment platform in China to invest in projects across Tier 1 cities.

With the latest investment, Warburg has expanded its rental accommodation portfolio beyond mainland China. Weave’s first property opened in Hong Kong this August. With a 95 percent occupancy, Weave on Boundary has 160 bedrooms and over 6,000 square feet of shared spaces across three floors. On a 12-month basis, rents in the property start from around HK$7,800 ($995; 884) per month and go up to HK$12,500.

The firm is now targeting other gateway cities in the region, including Singapore, Seoul, Sydney and Tokyo. It aims to grow its portfolio to over 10,000 bedrooms in the next five years.

“The goal is to build a portfolio and company of scale,” Doshi told PERE. “Having institutional backing from an investor of Warburg Pincus’ pedigree helps support our growth plans to expand beyond Hong Kong into other gateway cities across Asia-Pacific.”

Doshi left APG Asset Management last June, after spending four years heading the Dutch pension fund asset manager’s non-listed real estate portfolio in the region. He went on to launch Emerald Lake, a Hong Kong-headquartered real estate management platform to incubate standalone businesses across different real estate sectors. Weave is the first of these, to develop, own and operate co-living rental accommodation for young professionals and post-graduate students.

With Warburg’s entity-level investment, the three seed investors that backed Weave Co-Living have exited their investments.

Last week, Hong Kong-based investment manager Pamfleet teamed up with District15 to launch a co-living project called Nate studio apartments in Hong Kong’s Kowloon district, according to a report by the news portal Mingtiandi.

The trend of serviced apartments and co-living facilities is taking off in the world’s most expensive city, partly in response to escalating prices. Hong Kong residential prices have risen for 23 consecutive months, according to Colliers International’s first quarter 2018 report.