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Singapore-based Ascendas-Singbridge Group, which marks its 25th year in India this year, plans to actively expand its office portfolio in the country with logistics being a key growth engine, said a top company executive.

The investor-developer plans to double its commercial office portfolio in the country and may enter new businesses like setting up data centres and co-working spaces.

The firm manages over 17 million sq. ft across its portfolio in Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai and Gurugram with over S$2.7 billion in assets under management (AUM) in India. It had also launched a $300 million programme to invest in prime logistics and industrial real estate in June 2018.

Ascendas-Singbridge set up International Tech Park Bangalore (ITPB) in Bengaluru’s Whitefield area, as India’s first work-live-play IT park in a joint venture with the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) and Tata Group. ITPB was opened in 1998. KIADB still holds 7% stake while Ascendas-Singbridge bought out Tata’s stake in 2005.

“The real estate market in Singapore and India are different in many ways. Our focus is on business parks and in India, the business parks are mainly focused on IT services given the large pool of technology talent. India’s office sector is one of the largest in the world, in terms of area, and this makes it a very attractive market for a player like us," said Sanjeev Dasgupta, executive director and CEO, Ascendas India Trust in a telephone interview.

Ascendas-Singbridge has three main funding vehicles for projects in India: its balance sheet, private funds and Ascendas India Trust, which is a listed real estate investment trust (REIT) in Singapore. The REIT holds the income-generating stabilized assets.

Ascendas India Trust owns seven IT parks and six modern warehouses in India of around 12.6 million sq. ft spread across various cities. In August 2007, Ascendas India Trust was listed in SGX, the trust is focused on capitalizing on the fast growing IT and logistics industries in India.

Dasgupta said the Trust would grow its portfolio to 20 million sq. ft in the next 3-4 years.

The recent success of the initial public offering (IPO) of Embassy Office Parks REIT, India’s first REIT to be listed, indicated a return of confidence among both institutions and retail investors in the sector.

Dasgupta said it’s a positive development in terms of the opportunity it offers to investors.

In an earlier interview in December with Mint, Vinamra Srivastava, CEO for Ascendas’ India operations had said that the company is taking the next leap in terms of size and profitability of its business. It will look at acquisitions, greenfield developments as well as forward purchase agreements, where land owners build the project according to the company’s specifications, Srivastava had said.

In January, Singapore-based CapitaLand Ltd had said it has agreed to acquire Ascendas-Singbridge Group’s stake in two of the latter’s subsidiaries, in a cash-and-stock deal worth S$11 billion ($8 billion). The transaction would create the largest diversified real estate group in Asia. The real estate trusts that are part of the deal include Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust, Ascendas India Trust and Ascendas Hospitality Trust.

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