Chinese residential property developer Aqualand has boosted its strategic investment in the listed real estate adviser McGrath by 3.5 per cent to 18.5 per cent.
The move comes as the residential market turns a corner, with a returned focus on the prestige project marketing sector.
Aqualand, run by the billionaire Lin family, entered the McGrath register in June last year with a 15 per cent stake through its investment arm AL Capital and is the second-largest shareholder, behind the real estate agency’s founder John McGrath.
Aqualand bought the initial interest when the Sydney and Melbourne housing markets were at a low ebb. The purchase was made to boost McGrath’s project marketing business, by allowing its agents to work on new developments.
“We are delighted that Aqualand has further committed to McGrath…”
Aqualand has 18 development sites in Sydney worth about $5 billion, including the former navy stores known as the $173 million REVY apartments at Pyrmont, the $2.6 billion Central Barangaroo site, and the $418 million Blue apartment project at Lavender Bay.
One analyst who declined to be named said the move will also shore up the McGrath register against any potential corporate activity.
Part of the transformation has seen Mr Lucas move the McGrath head office to Pyrmont, on Sydney’s city fringe, away from the long-time office at Edgecliff in the eastern suburbs, and separate the sales business into new space at Double Bay and Surry Hills.
“The establishment of offices in Double Bay and Surry Hills is a considered move by the company as it continues to focus on building more efficient larger teams that are immersed in their local communities with a stronger visible presence,” Mr Lucas said.
Wayne Mo, chief executive of AL Capital, said the group has “great confidence in McGrath” and the increased investment demonstrates the continued support in the “turnaround progress” of the real estate business.
Investor reaction is positive with the share price up 6.9 per cent to 23¢.
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