Simon Treacy, MGPA

Simon Treacy is the Group CEO of MGPA, an independently managed private equity real estate investment advisory company focused on real estate investment in Asia Pacific and Europe. MGPA’s managed investments include development and redevelopment projects, joint ventures and real estate operating companies in the office, retail, industrial, residential and hotel sectors. Europe Real Estate caught up with Simon Treacy and asked him about his company’s interests and strategy.

Who is MGPA?

MGPA is a private equity firm established in 2004 from a management buyout of an Australian organization. Back then we were 20-30 people and half a billion dollar under management, today we’re 230 people operating exclusively in Asia Pacific and Europe with 13 offices in those two regions. Our headquarters are in Singapore.

Which markets are you mainly interested in?

Across Europe and Asia Pacific there are a number of markets that we are active in. If we look at the last 12-18 months we have acquired assets in Australia, China, Japan, Denmark, Germany, the UK, and France.

Which asset classes are interesting for you?

We typically look at the office and retail sectors. That is where we can apply our active asset management skills to reposition buildings through refurbishment or re-letting in order to produce more stable, core-yielding properties at the end of the asset plan.

In Europe what has been your main appetite in terms of countries?

More recently it has been the value retail sector Germany . We acquired about 140 small retail stores, all around the country. These are already leased to stores like Aldi.

The other main theme, in Europe at least, has been buying ageing office buildings, repositioning and refurbishing them. In Paris for instance, we are undertaking an extensive refurbishment of the Le Madeleine building situated in the heart of the Paris CBD and opposite La Madeleine Church. Ageing offices are 20,30,50 year old buildings requiring a lot of capital expenditure and a lot of active asset management.

Some of our best deals have come from lenders where we work with them to buy the loan from a troubled situation; that’s probably where we have the best kind of ability to reach into the market. In these situations, we typically buy the property from the bank.

What are your plans for development in Europe?

We are currently undertaking developments in a few countries, in big cities like Paris or London. Development is very much a niche play. We don’t do development for development’s sake; we only develop when we see an opportunity, meaning when there’s a good chance of obtaining a return.

What about Central-Eastern Europe or Russia?

Apart from Western Europe, Poland is our Central-Eastern European focus. We’ve been there six-seven years in the retail, residential and office sectors. We are in Rondo 1, which is probably the best office building in Central-Eastern Europe. That’s an asset from which over the last four or five years we’ve gained a very strong return.

We won’t go into Russia in the short- to medium-term. For now, we think that because the economies are sticking to Western Europe, Poland is sufficient for us.

In terms of opportunity, which kind of companies should approach you?

I think typically pension funds have been attracted to us because we offer a different way to make returns out of real estate over other operators that are more passive in style. That’s why we have 230 people working for us, because we do a lot of the development and refurbishment in-house as opposed to being an outsourcer or being too passive in our approach. We’re very hands-on and we work asset by asset.

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