Deutsche swaps shopping centre for office in AUD200m deal

Deutsche Asset Management has swapped a shopping centre for an office building owned by a wholesale fund and managed by QIC Global Real Estate.

The agents, INC Re, described the AUD200m (€132m) transaction as “notoriously complex”, taking many months to put together.

INC Re said the deal signalled a new trend in the Australian real estate market, with more investors likely to exchange assets which better fit their respective investment strategies.

In the off-market transaction, Deutsche exchanged a neighbourhood shopping centre on Sydney’s Northern Beaches for an office tower, 555 Lonsdale Street, in Melbourne’s central business district.

QIC will put the shopping centre, known as Pittwater Place, into its AUD600m QIC Australian Core Plus Fund, which it took over from LaSalle Investment Management last year.

QIC Global Real Estate managing director Steven Leigh confirmed the asset swap and said Pittwater Place would be the latest asset to join the wholesale fund.

The centre would play an important role in the fund’s long-term strategy to invest in quality Australian real estate assets that are underpinned by strong core returns and reliable growth prospects, he added.

Deutsche has gained ownership of 555 Lonsdale Street, which is located near the Victorian Law Courts and has tenants including law firms and Melbourne University’s Law Faculty.

The asset is likely to be slated for Deutsche’s new Asia core fund.

IPE Real Assets was unable to reach Victoria Sharpe, Deutsche Asset Management’s head of Asia Pacific, for comment on the swap deal. She has previously said that the firm has a flexible approach in seeking core assets in its target markets of Melbourne and Sydney.

Last month, M&G Real Estate and the Swiss Foundation for International Real Estate Investment, known as AFIAA, sold assets to each other for a total of AUD300m. However, this was not considered a straight asset swap like the Deutsche-QIC deal.

The first true asset swap between two Australian property groups was transacted in 2008. This involved two office towers then worth AUD450m.

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