Sydney, Australia

 

Ashurst and Australian firm Allens have the lead roles on Canadian real estate investor Oxford Properties Group’s $2.4 billion bid to take over an Australian real estate investment trust.

Toronto-based Oxford Properties, backed by Canadian pension giant Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, will acquire Sydney-based Investa Office Fund for $2.4 billion after outbidding an earlier offer made by U.S. buyout firm The Blackstone Group.

The directors of Australia-listed Investa Listed Funds Management Ltd., which manages Investa Office Fund, unanimously recommended the bid by Oxford Properties last Thursday, in the absence of a better offer.

The deal requires approvals by shareholders and regulators, including the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Foreign Investment Review Board. The shareholders are scheduled to meet in early December to vote on Oxford Properties’ offer.

Ashurst is advising Oxford Properties and the firm is led by Sydney-based corporate partner Anton Harris. Real estate partners Pauline Tan and David Jones, based in Sydney and London, respectively, are also advising on the deal. Other members of the team included real estate partner Andrew Deane, tax partners Vivian Chang and Barbara Phair, finance partners Jock O’Shea and Caroline Smart in Sydney and infrastructure partner Grant Rowlands in Melbourne.

Allens Sydney corporate partner Vijay Cugati is representing Investa.

Clayton Utz Sydney partners David Wilkie and Kylie de Oliveira acted for Blackstone on its offer.

Investa owns 20 office buildings in Sydney, where office space availability is very tight. According to Australia-focused research firm BIS Oxford Economics, office vacancy rate in Sydney’s central business district will drop to 3 percent by the end of 2019, down from 4.6 percent last December.

Oxford Properties’ proposed takeover offer in early September beat Blackstone’s bid by about $65.4 million just days before shareholders were due to vote on the New York-based buyout giant’s offer. Blackstone told Investa it would not match or better Oxford Properties’ offer, Investa said in a statement.

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