After more than a year of talks, it would finally seem that Brisbane-based property investment management firm Cromwell Property Group has a seat at the table to buy a platform that would significantly enlarge its domestic asset base.
Having twice been denied access to the particulars of the Investa Office Fund, a private vehicle containing 22 assets in central business districts across Australia with a valuation of A$3.8 billion ($2.86 billion; €2.76 billion), last month negotiations progressed to a stage where access was finally granted.
So what changed? Reportedly, it was the conditions of this access. According to The Australian newspaper, Cromwell has been granted access but the firm, led by Paul Weightman, will have to proceed without a ‘standstill agreement’ preventing others from buying shares or with the benefit of exclusivity. Cromwell faces competition from another Investa fund, the Investa Commercial Property Fund. Whoever prevails, the transaction will go down as a seminal point in the year for the Australian property market.
THE STORY SO FAR
February 22, 2016
Morgan Stanley sells the management rights of the listed Investa Office management platform to Investa’s unlisted Investa Commercial Property Fund.
Cromwell Property Group acquires CBRE Clarion’s 9.8 percent stake in the listed Investa Office Fund.
IOF shareholders vote 60:40 to reject a takeover offer from Dexus Property Group, Australia’s largest landlord.
Cromwell makes an all-cash proposal to acquire all of IOF’s outstanding issued capital for A$4.45 per security and requests to undertake due diligence. IOF’s board rejects the idea.
ICPF, which owns the management rights to the Investa Office platform, acquires Morgan Stanley’s remaining stake in the IOF.
February 3, 2017
Talks between Cromwell and Investa for a takeover of the IOF continue, but the pair remain unable to reach an agreement that will give Cromwell access to due diligence materials.
IOF pursues a plan to buy a half-stake in the management of the Investa Office platform, owned by ICPF, to create a joint venture between the IOF and ICPF.
Cromwell submits another unsolicited bid and proposes 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.
IOF’s independent directors decide to advance both the platform JV proposal from ICPF and IOF, as well as the Cromwell takeover proposal. Following this decision, they commission independent valuations of all of IOF’s 20 assets.