Manulife applies to list US office Reit assets here

Listing on SGX will raise about $629.2m, which includes an IPO

A PRELIMINARY prospectus for Asia's first pure-play US office real estate investment trust (Reit) was lodged with the Monetary Authority of Singapore yesterday.

Canada's Manulife Financial Corp, a leading financial services group, has applied to list some of its US property assets in Manulife US Reit on the Singapore Exchange.

The listing will raise gross proceeds of about $629.2 million and break a half-year drought of new Reit listings here.

The sum includes an initial public offering (IPO), as well as issuance of sponsor units and cornerstone units. The sponsor is a unit of Manulife.

The initial portfolio of Manulife US Reit will comprise three US office properties with an aggregate net lettable area of about 1.46 million sq ft.

The first is a 12-storey Class A office building a few blocks from the White House in Washington, DC.

The other two are a 35-storey Class A office building in the South Park district of Downtown Los Angeles and a 19-storey office building in Irvine, Orange County, within the Greater Los Angeles market.

The Reit's business strategy is to grow its portfolio by acquiring office assets in the United States from third parties.

The proceeds from the listing will go towards acquiring properties, paying transaction costs incurred in relation to the offering and the debt-financing, and working capital.

The Reit is "poised to benefit from the recovery of the world's largest economy" and the favourable office real estate outlook in the US, according to the preliminary prospectus.

The IPO portfolio is also diversified across 83 "high-quality tenants", including TCW, Hyundai Capital America, LA Fitness, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, Gibson Dunn and Davis Wright Tremaine.

Trading in the units is expected to start at 2pm on July 15, subject to the necessary approvals.

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said yesterday that it had assigned a "BB" preliminary long- term corporate credit rating to Manulife US Reit.

"The preliminary rating reflects our view that Manulife US Reit will benefit from its high-quality asset portfolio and well- known brand name, despite its small asset base," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Chan Kah Ling.

In addition, "the shared brand name with the sponsor helps the Reit in the highly competitive US office market".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2015, with the headline 'Manulife applies to list US office Reit assets here'. Print Edition | Subscribe