Qualitas eyes Energex House in $360m-plus play

Funds manager Qualitas is in the frame to acquire Brisbane's Energex House for about $360m

Funds manager Qualitas is in the frame to acquire Brisbane’s Energex House for about $360m

Funds manager Qualitas is in the frame to acquire Brisbane’s Energex House for about $360m in one of its first major plays as a listed company.

The group, which listed last year, has ambitious plans to grow its funds empire to beyond $4.2bn – and the purchase is one of its largest ever ­direct property plays.

The firm is understood to have edged aside an offshore player in the asset and will probably pack it into one of its new trusts.

A trust run by Cromwell Property Group put Energex House at Newstead on the market in January with a $360m-plus price tag, underpinned by an anchor lease to the state government and Energy Queensland until 2030 and the building’s cutting-edge green ­credentials.

The pioneering office building in Brisbane’s urban renewal precinct ­attracted about eight bids from international and local players, who are increasingly drawn to quality green assets.

Cromwell Property paid $173m for the purpose-built six-storey building before FKP Property completed it in 2010, and also poured capital into the property. Cromwell said in January that the time was right to sell it, with major property investors adopting environmental, social and governance principles as part of their investment strategies.

Energex House was Queensland’s first 6.0-star Green Star office building and the recipient of the maximum 5-Star GRESB Rating last year, placing it among the top core corporate office investments in Australia from an ESG perspective.

CBRE’s Bruce Baker, Peter Chapple and Tom Phipps and JLL’s Paul Noonan and Seb Turnbull are handling the sale but declined to comment.

The fully leased building faces Breakfast Creek Rd and Reddacliff St in the Gasworks Precinct. Energy Queensland – one of the country’s largest electricity infrastructure distributors – occupies 92 per cent of the 30,563sq m space.

The building’s ESG attributes and strong tenancy were key drivers for buyers amid an uptick in investor appetite for quality Australian office assets with robust ESG credentials.

The near-city location was another buyer drawcard for the Newstead Riverpark area, which has become a thriving precinct with high-end dining and retail at Gasworks Plaza.

Qualitas managing director Andrew Schwartz did not comment on the asset, but said when delivering the company’s first-half result that it had been the most dynamic period since it was founded 13 years ago, and was capped by its $335m float.

“The IPO was undertaken to scale our platform and accelerate the growth in funds under management – and that is exactly what we have been able to deliver,” he said.

Qualitas deployed $1.1bn in the 2022 fiscal year’s first half, and the company was on track to hit its planned debt and equity outlay, he said.

“Despite the wealth of opportunities before us, we will remain resolutely focused on investing our capital into well-considered and risk-mitigated commercial real estate opportunities,” he said.

The company unveiled three new funds last month, launching the Qualitas Real Estate Opportunity Fund 3 with a target raise of $300m, the Qualitas Senior Debt Enhanced Fund aiming for $300m, and setting up the $500m Qualitas Diversified Real Estate Fund.