Property fund hires manager

The fund manager of a $450 million office real estate trust has jumped ship to another manager.

Grant Nichols who ran the roughly $450 million Australian Unity Office Fund is taking over as the fund manager of the $850 million Centuria Metropolitan real estate investment trust's fund manager.

Nichols' appointment comes at a time when CMA is repositioning itself as an office property fund, shedding its industrial assets.

Nichols stepped down from AOF on November 30 and will start at CMA early next year.

Centuria head of real estate and funds management Jason Huljich said Nichols was appointed after an extensive search.

"Grant's experience is highly aligned with the operating and strategic initiatives being executed to create value for CMA unitholders and we look forward to onboarding him in early 2019.

Nichols replaces CMA's acting manager Douglas Hoskin who moved into the role in July when CMA's then manager left.

Former CMA manager Nicholas Blake took a leave of absence and was due to leave to pursue other opportunities after, the listed trust said in company filings on July 13.

At the time, Hoskins who had been with the group for 12 years at that point was appointed as the acting manager. He was previously managed Centuria's Urban REIT before it merged with the metropolitan REIT in 2017.

With the appointment announced today, Blake will resume a full-time focus as fund manager in Centuria's unlisted real estate division.

Nichols' old job at AOF has gone to Australian Unity's head of commercial property Mark Lumby who will be supported by portfolio manager Simon Beake and asset manager Giovanna Reale who have each worked with AOF assets for over five years.

Nichols previously managed the Investa diversified office fund and Investa second industrial trust. He has also held property management roles at AMP Capital.

CMA recently offloaded a Queensland industrial property for $30.6 million which is says is an 8.7% premium to its latest book value.

The property was sold to sister REIT Centuria Industrial REIT (CIP) who issued trust units to raise money for the acquisition.

"The sale is in line with our continued focus on identifying initiatives to create value for unitholders. The sale is in line with our stated strategy to divest of our two remaining industrial asserts repositioning CMA as one of the Australia's largest pure play office REITS," Hoskins said.

Read more: CMACenturiaAOFGrant NicholsNicholas BlakeDouglas HoskinGiovanna RealeJason HuljichMark LumbySimon Beake
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