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Charter Hall’s CPOF Acquires $259 Million of Prime Office Investments in Melbourne and Perth CBDs

21/12/2007

Charter Hall Group announces that its Core Plus Office Fund (CPOF) has acquired 11 Exhibition Street, Melbourne and 109 St Georges Terrace, Perth.

Charter Hall Group announces that its Core Plus Office Fund (CPOF) has acquired 11 Exhibition Street, located in a prime MELBOURNE CBD location, for $194.1 million in an off-market transaction from German fund manager Real I.S. Additionally, CPOF has settled the $65 million purchase of the Westpac Bank Building in PERTH CBD, located at 109 St Georges Terrace on the corner of William Street from Investa Property Group.

The acquisitions mean CPOF has amassed a national office portfolio valued at over $1.38 billion once 3 of the properties under construction or refurbishment have been completed. The acquisition of these high profile core CBD investment properties enhance the Fund's exposure to first class tenant covenants and further geographically diversifies the portfolio.

11 Exhibition Street is known as the Mercer Building and the office space is fully occupied by the multinational Marsh Mercer Group and also The Commonwealth Government. It is fully leased with a WALE of 7.5 years with these major leases extending until 2015 and 2017 respectively. The building comprises a 17 level A-Grade commercial building which was completed in 2005. The 23,000m² building comprises 2 levels of retail and 2 separate office lobbies which service 21,500m2 of high quality office space. Typical floors comprise 1,700m2 of column free office space. The property benefits from 340 car bays, which includes a 200 bay public car park.

David Harrison, Charter Hall's Joint Managing Director said: 'Charter Hall has a strong relationship with Real I.S. which enabled the Group to secure the Mercer Building in an off market transaction. We also have a positive view on the rental growth prospects for Melbourne CBD and believe our recent Victorian office investments present excellent platforms for growth in returns for CPOF investors.'

Westpac anchor the Perth CBD 19 level retail/office tower building with 59% of the lettable area, which was extensively refurbished 3 years ago. The building occupies a 2,300m² corner site fronting St Georges Terrace and William Street. In addition to 2 levels of retail, the building comprises 17 levels of office space and 75 basement car bays.

The purchase price reflects an equivalent market yield of 8.25% (as assessed by an independent valuer) and provides significant income reversions with a staggered market rent review profile. The property is fully leased with a WALE of 4.8 years.

Chris Forbes, CPOF Fund Manager said: 'CPOF has gained both core and enhanced returns from its Perth commercial assets enjoying substantial growth in market rents. With office passing rents in 109 St Georges Terrace equating to a 50% discount to current assessed market rental levels, this asset presents CPOF with strong DPU and asset value growth prospects'.

Mr Harrison added, 'CPOF has been able to blend a core and enhanced strategy in all capital city markets. What appealed about 109 St Georges Terrace was the opportunity to acquire the building at a price equating to $4,500 per square metre of office lettable area when comparable buildings have been transacted at closer to $8,500 per square metre. We expect to secure enhanced total returns from this core investment over the long term'.

Mr Forbes concluded that 'CPOF has now accumulated an excellent portfolio of high quality office assets with exposure to all capital cities, where rental and capital growth continues to provide strong returns for investors. CPOF now has a 35% weighting to Sydney, 25% to Brisbane, 19% to Perth and 20% to Melbourne.'

The Perth transaction was negotiated by CB Richard Ellis, represented by Richard Butler and Josh Cullen and co-agents Colliers international.