Qualitas taps investor needs with fund raising

Qualitas taps investor needs with fund raising
Qualitas taps investor needs with fund raising

Real estate investment management firm Qualitas has announced the successful first close of its Opportunity Fund, raising capital from institutional and high-net-worth (HNW) investors, to sit alongside its co-investment. 

The investment vehicle, which is funded by offshore and domestic investors, has a target size of $200 million. It will provide equity and mezzanine debt for high-quality commercial, retail and residential projects identified by Qualitas’ experienced investment team. 

Andrew Schwartz, Group Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer at Qualitas, said the fund allows investors to benefit from the unique dynamics of the Australian property sector.

“Australian real estate markets, particularly in the private capital space, tend to be localised and relationship-based. Well-established, local investment firms can therefore achieve superior risk-adjusted returns thanks to their access to information and on-the-ground knowledge.” 

“In the private, mid-market real estate sector where Qualitas specialises, we tend to have a first-mover advantage on profitable deals, thanks to our strong relationships. We can generate value by seizing opportunities early,” Mr Schwartz said.

Qualitas’ fund will focus on quality investment and development opportunities in the mid-market segment. 

“Australian core real estate has reverted to the prices and momentum seen in the pre-GFC period, and is heavily dominated by large-scale institutional and public capital. However, those sources have yet to turn their attention to the value-add and development spaces, and this is where we see significant opportunity for value creation by private capital investing.”

“The big banks’ focus on capital requirements has led to a contraction in lending for property development, opening up the market to alternative capital providers who provide ‘gap funding’. However, the banks are highly selective - and not just about the projects they will finance, but the third party capital partners they’ll work with. In this environment, Qualitas is ideally positioned as an experienced, credible provider of debt and equity. That’s been a big drawcard for the banks we work with, and now, the investors in our Opportunity Fund,” Mr Schwartz said.

“A combination of a continuing low interest rate environment, lower currency, positive market dynamics and good governance make Australia attractive to overseas investors. However, they want local knowledge too. Many global investment managers adopt a ‘fly in fly out’ approach, so they don’t have the same access to deal flow or opportunistic investments. This is one of the reasons we had a strong response from investors."

"We believe development site values have peaked, which will create  opportunities for prudent  developers who have previously been priced out of the market due to the heavy weight of capital particularly from overseas investor groups .

"We are seeing cost input assumptions adversely affecting values such as lower availability of bank debt, higher costs of capital and increased construction costs, which can only be offset by lower site values.

"We are selective about the risk profile of our investments and more cautious at this point of the cycle.

"We would avoid open equity risk in a market like this, because there are better, de-risked alternatives available offering premium returns."

Tags: 
Commercial Investment Fund Raising

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