India must act
By PAUL McKENZIE
In the second part of this series (Check first part here), we reviewed inroads made by Asian investors into purchase of commercial properties in Australia. In this concluding part, we take a look at how Indian investors will benefit in being a part of the ‘Asian Century’.
Others examples of Asian foreign investment in Australian real estate during 2015 includes Singapore’s Philip Lim acquisition of Melbourne’s office tower on 600 St Kilda Rd for $81.5 million. Singapore’s Cache Logistics Trust acquired three industrial properties in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane for over $70 million. Hong Kong-listed China Aoyuan Property Group with local player Ecove, bought Sydney’s 130 Elizabeth Street office tower for $121 million. Malaysia’s Mulpha Group acquired Norwest Marketown in Sydney’s Norwest Business Park at Baulkham Hills/Bella Vista for $120 million. China’s Fosun Group has entered the Australian property market, purchasing the North Sydney office tower on 73 Miller Street for $116.5 million. Hong Kong billionaire Tony Fung’s Aquis Entertainment has paid $160 million for the Sheraton Mirage Resort on the Gold Coast. The Foreign Investment Review Board has given Singapore REIT Starhill Global Real Estate Investment Trust approval to acquire the Myer Centre in Adelaide for $288 million.
Recent Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with China, Japan and Korea also focus on encouraging more foreign investment in Australian real estate, allowing these countries to enjoy commercial property thresholds of $1.094 billion similar to the United States and New Zealand, rather than the uniform commercial property threshold of $54 million restricted to other countries. This came into place for Korea in December 2014 and for Japan in January 2015 (Source, FRIB website). This is good news in the Australian commercial property sector, with the residential property sector enjoying a boom with new residential properties bought by foreign buyers/investors taking advantage of low interest rates. India is the next destination for Australia with FTA relations, and Prime Minister Tony Abbott is keen to get Indian investors interested in the real estate market here. The last Taj Group of Hotels sold their Sydney property, but maintains a local presence with an office in Sydney, looking to re-explore such opportunities here.
India is missing in action when it comes to foreign investment in Australian real estate, but it is expected to become a major player in the few years, as it becomes a major trading partner with Australia to rival China’s leading position.
Whist foreign investment of Australian real estate flourishes, it is instrumental that we continue the ‘Asian Century’ trend with strong growing business, trade and investment relations with our Asian neighbours. Recent announcements of tougher foreign investment rules in property with the FIRB can put a damper on foreign investors, especially at the lower end with residential property, that are required to pay hefty $5,000 application fee for FIRB approval to acquire property. When announcing such review and tougher new rules, recommendations from the House of Representatives Standing Committee, chaired by MP Kelly O’Dwyer in 2014, included establishing a national register of land title transfer system to track foreign investment in residential real estate. Already coming into place soon, is a national on-line property exchange system – PEXA – for settlements with major banks and their settlement agents. Simon Henry, co-chief executive of the Chinese language website Juwai.com where many offshore buyers look to buy Australian property, said: “There is no other country that charges fees to foreign investors that is actually seeking foreign investment.”
Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey commenting on the 2013/04 FIRB annual report says, “Continuing increased investment interest in Australia by sovereign funds from North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia are demonstrating Australia’s ongoing competitiveness as an investment destination.” Recently, the Victoria government has introduced from July 1, a 3% foreign buyers tax, to cash in the foreign investment in real estate growth.
The Indian Telegraph Sydney Australia
Its time for Indian investors to buy into the real estate market in Australia