CapitaLand’s wholly owned serviced residence business unit, The Ascott Limited (Ascott), is acquiring its first serviced residence in Docklands, Melbourne as part of its A$500 million strategic partnership with Quest Apartment Hotels (Quest), one of the largest serviced apartment operators in Australia.
The 221-unit property will be acquired for A$71 million through a 50:50 joint venture between Ascott and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). Quest will lease the serviced residence, which will be named Quest NewQuay Docklands, and operate it under Quest’s franchise when the property opens in 2019. Quest NewQuay Docklands will be Quest’s largest property in its network.
Mr Lee Chee Koon, Ascott’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Ascott is a global serviced residence leader that owns and manages over 46,000 units worldwide and we have a strong base of customer accounts that are multinational companies, while Quest is a leading operator in Australia with more than 80% of its customers from Australia’s top companies.
"Through our strategic partnership with Quest, we can combine our expertise to drive Ascott’s expansion in Australia and enjoy stable income as Quest will provide fixed leases for the properties and operate them under its well-established franchise. By taking a stake in Quest, Ascott also stands to benefit from the growth of the Quest franchise.
"Ascott focuses on prime city centre locations whereas Quest primarily targets suburban locations with underserved demand. Together, we can lead the expansion of the serviced residence sector which has significant untapped potential.”
Through the Ascott-Quest alliance formed in late-2014, Ascott will invest up to A$500 million in new properties that Quest will secure for its franchise in Australia until 2019. Ascott has a right of first refusal to acquire the properties sourced by Quest. Quest will provide a lease for the properties, which will be operated under franchises using the Quest brand. In addition, Ascott acquired a 20% stake in Quest, with an option to increase it to 30%. At the same time, Ascott’s real estate investment trust, Ascott Residence Trust, also acquired three operating serviced residences in Greater Sydney from Quest. Quest Sydney Olympic Park, Quest Campbelltown and Quest Mascot are being operated under franchises by Quest.
Mr Lee added: “Forging strategic alliances globally with partners such as Quest and QIA, as well as industry leaders from land owners to property developers, construction firms, online platforms and tech companies; enables Ascott to deepen our presence and build scale in key cities. Ascott’s US$600 million equity joint venture fund with QIA has boosted our capacity to invest and grow quickly. This property in Melbourne is our first acquisition in Australia in partnership with QIA and our fourth within a span of seven months.
"The four acquisitions have expanded our portfolio across four gateway cities. Our partners have chosen to collaborate with us due to Ascott’s strong capabilities in managing award-winning serviced residences globally for the past over 30 years. We expect these strong partnerships to gather more momentum as we pursue Ascott’s target of 80,000 apartment units globally by 2020."The 221-unit property in Docklands, Melbourne is Ascott’s fourth acquisition in partnership with Qatar Investment Authority within seven months.