5 Minutes with Centuria’s Jason Huljich

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In the lead-up to Urbanity, on August 3-5 at The Star on the Gold Coast, The Urban Developer sat down with Centuria Capital joint chief executive Jason Huljich to discuss industry trends, Centuria Capital’s business model, funds and assets as well as the importance of conferences like Urbanity.

Huljich will join Judith Brinsmead of ADCO Constructions and MaxCap Group’s Bill McWilliams as part of a panel discussing their views for the future of Australia’s property industry on Thursday August 4.


How has Centuria Capital
 established and maintained such a successful business model?

“Throughout the past 24 years, Centuria has grown from a small commercial property syndicator to an ASX-200 listed entity with over $20 billion in assets under management. 

This diversified platform is split over both listed and unlisted real estate funds and invested across the industrial, healthcare, large format retail, daily needs retail, agriculture and real estate credit sectors.

“Not many know that we also have a 15-year track record for developing properties and these properties ultimately form part of our funds. In fact, we currently have a $2.2 billion development pipeline throughout Australia and New Zealand.

“Diversification is important to us. By not having all our eggs in one basket—or one asset class—it de-risks our portfolio, creating a better balance. 

We further diversify by the type of funds we offer (listed, open-ended unlisted, closed-end unlisted), which cater to different investor groups and investor appetites (retail, wholesale, institutional). Furthermore, our portfolio is diversified geographically—from Perth, to Adelaide, across east coast Australia and throughout New Zealand.” 


What do you, or your team, focus far more time on now, than five years ago?

Five years ago, Centuria was focused on the office and industrial real estate markets. Today, we operate across seven different asset classes. 

Whether it be a hospital operator, a retailer or an eCommerce tenant, we understand that businesses are no longer looking for cookie-cutter facilities.

Centuria has taken a strategic approach by tailoring real estate space to occupiers’ needs for today and in the future. This is a win-win for our tenant customers and investors alike. 

On the customer side, it leads to ‘sticky’ tenants who commit to longer leases, on strong covenants as they are working in efficient environments. On the investor side, long leases, strong covenants and best in class sustainability credentials creates more certain revenue streams. 

 

Which deals or projects best represent Centuria Capital?

“Through our 2020 merger with a New Zealand real estate funds manager, we have increased our portfolio across the Tasman. In particular, Centuria NZ is part of a consortium delivering the NZ$1 billion master planned Lakeview development in Queenstown.
 
“It will include residences, retail, hotels, hospitality outlets and offices on the foothills of the famous ski peak, Ben Lomond.
 
“In 2019, we acquired a 63 per cent interest in a healthcare real estate investment company, which is now known as Centuria Healthcare. Since then, we have developed medical centres, short-stay hospitals and specialist centres. Most recently, we delivered the Murdoch Oncology Facility, which provides WA with the first MR Linac, a ground-breaking piece of equipment for advanced cancer treatment.
 
“We also develop dementia-care residences throughout Sydney’s northern suburbs. To date, we have delivered several of these projects and have a continuous pipeline for more. What is unique about these properties is that they cater to a gap in the market—providing independent living in a typical suburban setting, with an onsite ‘home-maker’. 
 
These are large, multi-roomed homes that enable seniors with dementia to live with dignity while keeping up lifestyle activities such as gardening, cooking and entertaining.”
 

An inspiring book, research paper you’ve read recently or presentation you’ve attended?

I was lucky enough to recently attend a Real Estate course at Harvard in Boston. To sit in a room with 80 Real Estate chief executives from all around the world and listen to how they are navigating through the current climate was extremely inspiring. 

 

What advice would you give to an up-and-coming fund manager?

Though it might be a little supercilious to say, the best real estate fund managers are made in times of turmoil. 

In the face of adversity, there is also opportunity. In the current market, the focus should be on your investors and navigating them through the current volatility in a professional, innovative and transparent fashion. 


Why do you think it is important to have conferences like Urbanity?

For more than two years, the industry has lacked the face-to-face collaboration needed to share ideas, experiences and insights. 

Events, like Urbanity, bring the industry’s best under one roof and the sector (and complementary sectors) as a whole can only progress when we can collaborate together. 


Of the vast array of speakers presenting at Urbanity who are you most looking forward to hearing from?

It’s not necessarily about the individual speakers but rather the topics that I look forward to the most. Hearing how the industry intends to respond to the current economic climate, the impacts of inflation, regulatory changes, major infrastructure projects and the increasing focus on ESG will be extremely interesting. 

 

Join us as Urbanity brings together an unrivalled roster of the industry’s best developers, architects, place-makers, innovators and property professionals. 

Urbanity is a must-attend event for anyone that is involved in the development of cities and regions.

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