Global infrastructure manager IFM Investors has begun talks with the Australian property manager ISPT to explore the merits of a potential merger to create a A$233bn (€141.7bn) real asset management platform.

IFM and ISPT mostly have a common ownership structure – they are owned by Australian industry super funds, including AustralianSuper, Cbus Super, UniSuper, HESTA and Hostplus.

IFM and ISPT said the talks were initiated at the request of significant shareholders in each entity.

They said: “A potential merger recognises that IFM and ISPT have complementary businesses and capabilities. They also have an extensive common shareholder base.” 

They said discussions were ongoing between the organisations as they sought to identify and assess the opportunities and risks for their shareholders, investors, businesses and people.

IFM Investors, which operates a network of offices in 11 cities around the world, currently manages A$211bn for around 640 global institutional investors, including its 17 Australian industry fund shareholders. 

As of 31 December 2022, IFM Investors had almost A$101bn in funds under management invested in infrastructure, followed by debt (A$65.3bn) and listed equities (A$43.7bn). It recently began investing in private equity (A$1.2bn).

If a merger were to take place, it would bring another unlisted asset class under the wings of the global manager.

ISPT has a domestic focus and manages a A$22.2bn diversified real estate portfolio. It is both an investor and developer. Currently, it manages five property trusts.

ISPT has harboured ambitions to go global for some time. In 2018 it formed International Property Funds Management, a company created with IFM Investors to acquire and manage international unlisted real estate investments on behalf of institutional investors.

The initiative subsequently fizzled, but sources told IPE Real Assets today that it had had no bearing on the current merger talks.

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