ARA appoints CIO for private funds business

ARA appoints David Blight as CIO for private funds business
David Blight, CIO of ARA Private Funds

ARA Asset Management has appointed David Blight as chief investment officer of its private funds division, ARA Private Funds (APF).

APF is led by Moses Song, CEO of ARA, in partnership with David Blight in his new role.

Blight, who was chairman and CEO of the global ING Real Estate Investment Management platform between 2005 and 2008, has been CEO of ARA Australia since co-founding it in 2015.

Moses Song said: “As ARA Private Funds prepares to enter its next phase of growth, our leadership team will be resolutely focused on investment performance, client service and maintaining our team culture. With the scale, capabilities and resources of the enlarged ESR Group and the deep bench strength of talent within our ranks, the platform is superbly positioned to capture the opportunities arising out of the largest secular trends in APAC real estate. Notwithstanding the exciting new changes, we will stay consistent in our approach to investing by creating value at the properties we acquire, manage and sell, on behalf of our investors first and foremost, and also our stakeholders more broadly.”

Chairman of ESR Group, Jeffrey Perlman, said: “Given the strong growth potential of the ARA private funds platform, it was clear from the start that we needed highly experienced leaders who are integral to the Group’s private funds ecosystem to harness the potential of the platform. Moses and David, with their deep investment experience and strong track record, are the right leaders to oversee a business that has a dynamic team, an investor-operator mindset and access to an unrivalled Group network across the entire APAC region.

“We have been planning for a seamless business and operational integration since the acquisition announcement last year, seeking synergies within the enlarged platform to accelerate the growth of the business as we scale up to provide a full suite of New Economy real estate development products and real asset investment solutions for our investors.”

”With an AUM of US$95 billion in private investment vehicles (representing over 65% of ESR’s AUM) across the Group, ARA’s private funds business is a key driver for the enlarged ESR Group going forward,” said ARA in a statement. 

”The prime commercial sector is witnessing strong growth momentum as countries open up and workers return to the office. However, the landscape has changed vastly since pre-COVID days. Driven by both changing tenant demands during the pandemic, and the growing importance of sustainability, the office sector is undergoing significant transformation as hybrid working and sustainability requirements take centre stage.”

“ARA’s strong investor-operator experience and investment judgment are essential for these times and have enabled us to remain at the forefront of these changing trends. Take Lazada One in Singapore, which APF jointly acquired with Chelsfield in 2019, just before the pandemic, for example. Despite the heavy COVID restrictions during that period, we managed to convert it into a prime office building incorporating smart technology and exacting sustainable attributes and launched it in April this year. The tenants, comprising mostly global tech companies, are testament to the high standards of the refurbished asset,” said Blight.

Stuart Gibson and Jeffrey Shen, co-founders and co-CEOs of ESR Group, commented: “Leveraging the expanded scale and offerings of the enlarged platform, ESR Group has become more compelling for leading global investors who are looking to consolidate their relationships towards a smaller number of large-scale managers that have diversified capabilities and strong track records to capitalise on the outsized growth in real estate. We are excited to work closely with Moses and David to take the ARA private funds business to new heights.”