Australian Unity acquires $80 million mortgage funds

Mark Pratt

Mark Pratt

Australian Unity Real Estate Investment (AUREI) has successfully acquired Owenlaw Trust Limited, the manager of the $60 million Owenlaw First Mortgage Income Fund and the $20 million Owenlaw Mortgage Trust.

The Owenlaw First Mortgage Income Fund is a ‘contributory fund’ where investors can invest in individual mortgages with different terms (up to a maximum of two years) and different interest rates payable. The fund will now be known as the Australian Unity Select Mortgage Income Fund.

The Owenlaw Mortgage Trust, now known as the Australian Unity Pooled Mortgage Fund is an investment scheme that invests in a portfolio of registered first mortgages and is currently closed to new investors.

Mark Pratt, general manager, Australian Unity Real Estate Investment, said the acquisition comes at a key point in the market cycle, and that now is an opportune time to expand and grow the mortgage investment business.

“The future of non-bank lending looks promising with the doors to competition starting to open presenting opportunities for mortgage funds like these.

“With interest rates predicted to remain low for some time to come, mortgage funds are very well placed to provide investors, particularly retirees, with solid and stable income returns that are well above the cash rate.

“AUREI has an extensive track record in mortgage investments and our mortgage portfolio is currently valued at more than $228 million.  We have an experienced and high quality mortgage team led by Roy Prasad, and have long believed that mortgage funds have a useful role to play in investor portfolios.

“The Owenlaw First Mortgage Income Fund and Owenlaw Mortgage Trust are quality mortgage funds which have provided investors with stable and regular income for almost 20 years.  We intend to continue managing the funds in line with their   current investment strategy.

David Owen, chairman of Owenlaw Trust, who is retiring after 40 years of managing the business, said Australian Unity is widely recognised as one of Australia’s leading mortgage investment managers.

“In addition to the newly acquired funds, AUREI is responsible for a quality mortgage portfolio and hasdemonstrated expertise and commitment to investors in its mortgage funds.

“After the sale, both director Luke Anderson and office manager Maria Andricopoulos will join AUREI to continue to look after the Funds’ investors and borrowers, helping to ensure a smooth transition,” Mr Owen said.

The Funds will continue to pay monthly distributions and investment statements will continue to be sent quarterly.

“AUREI recognises the value of this acquisition and will look to leverage its national footprint to provide new investment opportunities for investors and borrowers alike,” Mr Pratt said.

Roy Prasad, head of mortgages at AUREI said that Owenlaw has a strong track record providing development finance for small and medium sized commercial and residential developers.

“These businesses often find it difficult to source funding from the major institutions for a variety of reasons and we look forward to continuing to service this important part of the market.”

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