Investment bank Macquarie has entered into exclusive negotiations to buy a stake in the management platform of Investa Property Group.

Macquarie confirmed today that its wholly-owned subsidiary Macquarie Real Estate Investment Holdings (Australia) and Investa Commercial Property Fund Holdings (ICPFH) are in discussions.

The proposal is to create a joint venture in which the Macquarie entity would directly acquire 50% of the shares held by ICPFH in Investa Office Management Holdings, the holding company of the manager and responsible entity of Investa Office Fund (IOF).

IOF, a listed fund that owns some of Australia’s finest office towers, is currently subject to an AUD3.1bn (€1.98bn) takeover offer from Blackstone.

“The parties have entered into a mutual standstill and exclusivity agreement for the purposes of negotiating and finalising the joint venture,” said Macquarie.

“Macquarie Group is required to lodge an initial substantial holder notice in respect of IOF as a consequence of entering into the mutual standstill and exclusivity agreement, which it will lodge with the ASX and IOF in due course.”

Macquarie said that any transaction entered into as a result of these arrangements would not be material to Macquarie.

Observers in the Australian property market said the move could affect Blackstone’s takeover attempt for IOF.

Currently, the single largest shareholder in IOF is Investa Commercial Property Fund (ICPF), which also has full control of the IOF management platform.

In a note to clients today, Macquarie said it had entered into a “standstill agreement” not to acquire units in IOF.

If Macquarie proceeds with the deal, it will mark its return to property fund management.

Before the global financial crisis, Macquarie was one of the largest property fund managers in Australia, with five listed real estate investment trustst and a large portfolio of unlisted funds.

However, Macquarie gradually exited its property fund management business in Australia.

Two of its largest trusts – Macquarie Office Trust and Macquarie Countrywide Trust – are now trading as Charter Hall Office Trust and Charter Hall Retail Trust, managed by Charter Hall.

Charter Hall also bought Macquarie’s unlisted property funds business, which formed the basis of its growing platform today.

And Macquarie sold its stake in the Macquarie Goodman Industrial Trust, to Goodman, which subsequently dropped the Macquarie name and went on to become one of the world’s largest logistics owners and managers.