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AIMS Financial Services in the running for a buy
By Florence Chong

AIMS Financial Services has been offered a rash of potential property acquisitions as it hunts for investments for its US partner, estimating that about $5 billion of Australian office buildings, shopping centres and industrial sheds had come across its desk since late last year.

"We are in active due diligence on offices and industrial assets in major capital cities in Australia," said AIMS chairman and executive director George Wang.

Sydney-based AIMS entered into a joint venture in November last year with the US-based REIT Management & Research (RMR), controlled by the Portnoy family, to facilitate the US REIT's expansion into Australia.

RMR, which manages $US18bn ($17.83bn) of assets in the US, bought a Sydney office tower, occupied by Telstra, for about $200 million early this year.

"I am not surprised to see this volume of properties offered to us. It is definitely still a buyers' market," Mr Wang said.

"We have been inundated with deals from listed trusts, private trusts and institutions."

He said RMR had invested in buildings with long leases in the $30m to $100m price range. However, it had the capacity to spend more on each asset.

Mr Wang believed that the market could change next year and that it was best to close deals this year.

The US investor hopes to build a portfolio of about $750m to $1bn by year's end.

"We have not been decided whether to list it in Australia or New York. The final decision on a listing would depend on the market conditions," Mr Wang said.

Last year, one of RMR's trusts, CommonWealth REIT, acquired MacarthurCook Industrial Trust, which has since been delisted.

RMR, which manages four trusts listed on the New York Stock Exchange and two listed property companies, also looked at the ING Healthcare Fund.

Meanwhile, the Australian-managed AIMS AMP Capital Industrial Trust, listed in Singapore, has sold an industrial building in Tokyo for Y=1.49bn ($18m) to Industrial & Infrastructure Fund of Japan.

The trust is a jointly managed by AMP Capital Investors and AIMS. The latter inherited the trust from its takeover of MacarthurCook Funds Management in 2009.

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