MIRA Real Estate to 're-engage' with the market – exclusive

The direct property investment arm of the Australian bank plans to expand into new markets and re-boot its fund business, according to global head Matthew Banks.  

Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA), the direct property and infrastructure investment arm of the Australian bank, is planning on significantly adding to its real estate assets under management globally and expanding into new markets.

Matthew Banks, global head of real estate for MIRA, has told PERE the firm is set to enter India. In fact, it is understood that a $500 million private equity real estate fund focused on residential investments in the country is about to be launched.

MIRA had largely kept away from raising real estate funds in the past due to its ownership stake in Asia and Europe-focused private equity real estate business MGPA, which was sold to asset management giant BlackRock at the end of 2013, but the firm is now changing its strategy.

“To compete with MGPA wouldn't have made a lot of sense,” explained Banks. “When we completed the sale of our interest in MGPA in late 2013 we quickly developed our strategy to re-engage with the real estate sector. That's what we have been doing through 2015.”

Banks told PERE that over the last 12 months his firm has made senior hires including: Ralf Nocker in Europe, Andrew Calderwood in the US, RK Narayan in India, Chia-Wen Toeh in Hong Kong, and most recently Steven Sewell in London.

“We are very committed about re-engaging, we have employed a lot of people, at various levels, across the markets we want to operate in,” he added.

To do so, Banks' real estate team has been leveraging off the broader MIRA group. “With the MIRA business we have got a wide array of investors, well over 500, so using that network we know what investors are looking for. We are focused on matching investors' appetite and requirements with what we see,” he said.

“Initially as we re-engage there is a predominance for clubs with a small number of investors to build the brand again as opposed to doing a large fund, but we are open to the appropriate model in the appropriate market.”

In terms of strategy MIRA will focus on the traditional property sector opportunities in developing markets, and more niche opportunities in developed markets, Banks gave student housing in Australia as an example. “Given we are at an early stage of our renewed efforts we feel that is a better way to approach developed markets given they are very competitive, sophisticated and mature,” he added.

MIRA Real Estate has £2.8 billion (€3.65 billion; $3.95 billion) of assets under management in China, Mexico and Australia, as at 30 September 2015.