Buxton and Fowler get into lending game

Steve Buxton
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THE Buxton family has teamed up with former MaxCap founding partner Michael Fowler to launch Corsair Investment Management, hoping to translate their property experience into the growing non-bank lending game.

Corsair Investment Management is a specialist real estate funds and investment manager for the Australian commercial, residential and industrial property markets.

The Buxton family has been involved in Australian real estate and development since the 1860s, and has been involved with Buxton Real Estate, Becton, MAB Corporation and Hamton.

Recently joining the Corsair are Fowler as chair, and former Westpac executives Robert Altson as chief operating officer and Chris Moyle as chief investment officer.

“In a complex and conservative lending market, our team’s ability to identify and back strong projects is founded on deep sector experience and a track record of generating shared returns for investors,” Stephen Buxton, Corsair Investment’s management director said.

“We’ve established a diverse team of experienced leaders from both the property and finance sectors to support borrowers seeking alternative lending options and investors looking to manage risk in a volatile market.”

The fund is providing property loans and equity for projects from inner city townhouses to large-scale commercial, residential and industrial schemes.

Fowler said the coronavirus pandemic has driven a complex and conservative lending market in Australia and believes provides a unique opportunity for developers and investors to capitalise on value in the market.

“Guidelines implemented by APRA over the last few years, including increased liquidity restrictions, have accelerated the recognition of non-banks as viable market lenders. The subsequent outbreak of COVID-19 has placed further constraints on traditional lenders,” Fowler said.

Recent analysis by consultancy Plan1 suggests non-bank lenders’ share in the commercial real estate debt market will breeze past $50 billion by 2024. Major banks are avoiding exposure to riskier assets such as shopping centres and hotels, as well as lower grade offices and some residential developments.

CRE bank lending rose 5.9% in FY20 to an all time high of $259.6 billion, underpinned by growth from Asian banks, which in less than five years have doubled their CRE lending to $30 billion. They have pushed foreign banks’ share of the market in that time to 23%, from just 9%.

However, growth from Asian banks is tipped to slow, and the “big four” to see their share fall to just 65% – currently it is 71.6% – and non-bank lenders will fill the void.

Fowler said that although there is still a relative shortage in available capital, there is still strong potential across sectors less affected by the pandemic.

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