Asia Digest: Nuveen makes first close, Ascott buys Oakwood, BPEA exits Cath Kidston

Property investment manager Nuveen Real Estate has made a first close of its Japan Alternatives Living strategy; The Ascott Limited is acquiring serviced apartment provider Oakwood Worldwide; and BPEA has sold its controlling stake in Cath Kidston to Hilco Capital.

Nuveen Real Estate makes $100m first close of Japan housing strategy

Property investment manager Nuveen Real Estate has secured the first close of its Japan Alternatives Living strategy with $100 million in commitments from institutional real estate investor Bouwinvest and Nuveen’s parent company TIAA.

In a statement, Nuveen said the Japan Alternatives Living strategy focuses on stabilised senior housing assets in the country. It will also pursue investments across alternative living sectors, such as student housing, single family, and co-living assets across Greater Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.

Japan’s senior housing sector has proven its relative resilience, underpinned by limited new supply and favourable demographic momentum, according to the announcement. In Japan, the proportion of senior citizens is expected to reach 35% by 2040, which will result in the projected increase in demand for senior housing.

This demographic transition presents investment opportunities in industries which serve the needs of the growing ageing population, said Louise Kavanagh, chief investment officer & head of Asia Pacific, Real Estate, at Nuveen.

“This strategy provides investors with exposure to senior housing markets in the world’s largest metropolitan area by GDP and population, where the proportion of senior citizens relative to the population is bigger than any other country,” Kavanagh added.

BPEA exits UK retailer Cath Kidston

Baring Private Equity Asia (BPEA) has sold its controlling stake in UK-based global lifestyle brand Cath Kidston to investment and restructuring firm Hilco Capital for an undisclosed amount.

BPEA first acquired a stake in the US PE firm TA Associates in 2014 in a deal that valued the lifestyle retailer at around $426 million. It took full control of Cath Kidston in 2016.

Cath Kidston, founded in 1993, however, collapsed into administration in 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the loss of nearly 1,000 jobs.

The retailer started with a single shop in London’s Holland Park. Alongside its e-commerce website, it has four UK stores and 95 shop-in-shops. The brand offers a range of products from accessories and womenswear to childrenswear and home furnishings.

BPEA is one of Asia’s largest private alternative investment firms, with a $21 billion AUM. It manages a private equity investment programme, sponsoring buyouts, and providing growth capital to companies for expansion or acquisitions with a particular focus on the Asia Pacific region.

Ascott to buy serviced apartment provider Oakwood

The Ascott Limited – a wholly-owned lodging unit under the Singapore Exchange-listed CapitalLand Investment Limited (CLI) – is acquiring serviced apartment provider Oakwood Worldwide from Mapletree Investments.

While the purchase consideration has not been disclosed, CLI estimates that the transaction will add around 81 properties and 15,000 units to Ascott’s global portfolio.

Some 8,500 of Oakwood’s operational units are expected to contribute immediately to Ascott’s recurring fee income streams upon completion of the transaction around 3Q2022, CLI said in a July 4 regulatory filing.

Oakwood also has another 30 properties and 6,500 units in the pipeline. These will bring CLI’s portfolio to over 150,000 units across 200 cities in 39 countries once the acquisition is completed.

New markets that will be added to Ascott’s portfolio post-acquisition include Cheongju in South Korea, Zhangjiakou and Qingdao in China and Washington DC in the US.

Ascott’s geographical diversification will give the business unit further fee income stability, notes CLI. With this, CLI will be in a stronger position to take advantage of the opportunities from the recovery in global travel.

Presently, Ascott has over 81,000 operating units and over 54,000 units under development.

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