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GPT Seeks to Double Asset Management Profits, Create Funds

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Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- GPT Group, Australia’s second-biggest diversified property trust, said it is seeking to double its fund management unit’s profit after the company’s full-year earnings surged.

“We’re looking at new and exciting products,” Michael Cameron, chief executive officer of the Sydney-based company, said in a telephone interview, declining to provide a timeframe. “That may include something like an industrial fund, individual portfolios or even a non-institutional fund.”

Net profit before tax from fund management was A$16 million ($17 million) in the year ended Dec. 31, and assets jumped 20 percent from a year ago to A$6.6 billion, the Sydney-based company said in a statement to the Australian stock exchange. Net income climbed to A$594.5 million in the 12 months to Dec. 31 from A$246.2 million a year earlier, GPT said.

The company plans to increase the weighting of its industrial properties to 15 percent from 12 percent as of Dec. 31, by both buying and developing properties, Cameron said. It’s seeking to increase offices to 35 percent of assets from 32 percent, and reduce exposure to retail properties to about 50 percent from 56 percent, he said.

Net tangible assets rose to A$3.73 a share from A$3.59 a year earlier. GPT will pay a dividend of 19.3 Australian cents a share, up from 17.8 cents a year earlier, it said today.

GPT shares fell 0.3 percent to A$3.79 at the close of trading in Sydney. They’ve risen 3 percent this year.

GPT in December made an offer for the commercial property and development businesses of smaller rival Australand Ltd., which is 59 percent owned by Singapore-based CapitaLand Ltd. Cameron today said GPT will continue to pursue the takeover even after the bid was rejected. CapitaLand, Southeast Asia’s biggest developer, has also said it’s reviewing its investment in Australand.

“We approached CapitaLand and said we intended to put a proposal forward and they suggested we take the proposal to Australand, which we did,” Cameron said today. “We’re committed to advancing a proposal for Australand.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Nichola Saminather in Sydney at nsaminather1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andreea Papuc at apapuc1@bloomberg.net

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