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DBS 'surprised' by resignation of Manulife US REIT’s 'whole C-suite'

Jovi Ho
Jovi Ho • 3 min read
DBS 'surprised' by resignation of Manulife US REIT’s 'whole C-suite'
Manulife US REIT’s property at 500 Plaza Drive, Secaucus, New Jersey. MUST has halted its distributions since 1HFY2023 ended June 30, 2023. Photo: MUST
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DBS Group Research analysts are surprised by the resignation of Manulife US REIT’s “whole C-suite”, announced pre-market on March 19

“The existing management team has held the helm during the most difficult and challenging times… Following the stabilisation of MUST with the recapitalisation plan, a complete change of the C-suite came as a surprise,” say DBS analysts in a March 19 note.

The manager has appointed DWS’s John Casasante as CEO and CIO, replacing current CEO William “Tripp” Gantt and deputy CEO Caroline Fong. Casasante will also replace current CIO Patrick Browne, who is based in the US. 

In addition, CFO Robert Wong of the REIT manager will make way for Mushtaque Ali, who joins from sponsor Manulife Investment Management.

The four senior leaders announced their resignation concurrently on March 19. CEO Gantt has “pressing family needs that require his full time and attention”, while the other three cited a desire to “pursue other opportunities”.

Casasante will be appointed as CEO- and CIO-designate on April 8. He has been the regional director of real estate asset management alternatives and real estate assets at DWS, formerly RREEF, since 2006. 

See also: Changes of CEO, deputy CEO and CFO at Manulife US REIT's manager

Ali will be appointed as CFO-designate on April 12. He is currently the head of finance, wealth & asset management, Singapore and Southeast Asia, Manulife Global Wealth and Asset Management; a role he has held since March 2022. 

He has been in Manulife Group since May 2014. Both the appointments will be subject to regulatory clearance and will be effective on June 30. 

Calling the exit a “complete shake-off”, DBS analysts note that Ali appears to have been “seconded” from the sponsor, Manulife Group. 

See also: UOB Kay Hian sees Civmec's bid to shift domicile to Australia a positive move

“The change in management team hopefully could see a refresh perception of MUST,” add the analysts.

This is the second US office S-REIT to announce management changes this week, following the resignation of Harmeet Singh Bedi, CEO of the manager of Prime US REIT OXMU -

, on March 15. 

DBS is maintaining “hold” on Manulife US REIT with a target price of 10 US cents. 

As at 9.42am, units in Manulife US REIT are trading flat at 5.7 US cents, down 79% over the year.

More on Manulife US REIT over the years:

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