Singapore-based Ascott Limited, real estate group CapitaLand’s wholly owned lodging business unit and serviced-residence operator, is investing S$192 million in a freehold serviced residence in North Sydney’s central business district through the Ascott Serviced Residence Global Fund, its global fund with Qatar Investment Authority.
The serviced residences, Citadines Walker North Sydney, will be part of a 48-story integrated development that also has office and retail components. The building will be the tallest tower in North Sydney upon its completion in 2021.
“This latest acquisition in Australia is in line with our strategy of growing our fund management portfolio through private equity funds, joint ventures and listed hospitality trusts—all of which provide a core asset base for our asset management business,” said Ascott CEO Kevin Goh. “Fund management is central to the active capital management strategy of Ascott…Together with our capacity to co-invest with like-minded capital partners such as QIA, it gives us the ability to stay invested in quality assets for the long term.”
The recent proposed combination of Ascott Residence Trust and Ascendas Hospitality Trust will “cement Ascott Residence Trust’s position as the largest hospitality trust in Asia Pacific,” Got added. “With Ascott’s sponsored stake in the trust, we will continue to benefit from the properties’ steady yield and participate in their future growth. Likewise, the enlarged trust will continue to enjoy a pipeline of quality assets from Ascott. At the same time, we can earn fund-management fees to complement third-party management contracts and franchises which we are looking to scale up sharply over the next few years. As we continue to pursue proactive capital recycling and investment strategies, we will enlarge and enhance our portfolio of assets to increase our return on equity.”
Ascott also signed 13 other properties under franchise and management contracts across China, France, Indonesia, Kenya and Vietnam. Four of these are with French serviced-apartment provider Aegide Domitys: Citadines Connect City Centre Roanne is the first property in Europe under Ascott’s Citadines Connect brand of business hotels. Two properties, Hôtel Château Belmont Tours and La Clef Golfe-Juan, will be part of Ascott’s The Crest Collection and the fourth property is Citadines Toulouse. These four properties mark Ascott’s debut in three new cities: Golfe-Juan, Tours and Roanne. The hotels will open from 2020 to 2023. In 2017, Ascott and Aegide Domitys signed franchise agreements for the now-open Citadines Confluent Nantes and Citadines Eurometropole Strasbourg, set to open next year.
Of the nine new management contracts, Citadines IFC Shenyang and Citadines Huijin Nanxiang Shanghai are secured under Ascott’s alliance with Huazhu Hotels Group and Huazhu’s subsidiary CJIA Apartments Group. To date, eight properties in China have been signed under this partnership.
Ascott secured its first Yello hotel in Vietnam with the signing of a management contract for Yello Phu Nhuan Ho Chi Minh City. Yello is one of six brands by Tauzia Hotels Management, in which Ascott has a majority stake. In addition, Ascott has signed two management contracts in Bandung and Belitung in Indonesia under Tauzia’s Fox and Vertu brands, respectively.
With this latest acquisition in Australia as well as the signing of 13 management and franchise contracts, Ascott has achieved S$10 billion in asset value. These 14 new properties have a combined total of more than 2,200 units, and Ascott has secured a total of more than 10,600 units to date this year—double the number of units signed organically for the same period last year. Ascott has reached a total of more than 112,000 units in more than 700 properties, and is on track to meet its global target of 160,000 units by 2023. The company has a total of 66,000 units currently open and expects to add another 2,800 this year.