(Jul 24): Just before sitting down with The Edge Singapore three weeks ago, John Lim looked back at an interview he did with this newspaper last year and was pleased to find that just about everything he predicted had come true. “I’m very happy that what I say has value to readers,” he says.

One of his key predictions was that demand for Grade-A offices in Singapore would not crack despite surging supply. Since then, the new supply has been quickly soaked up and many commercial property market watchers are now predicting that office rents will rise over the next couple of years. Lim had also said emphatically that shares in his ARA Asset Management — which were trading at $1.20 then — offered real value to investors. Shares in ARA subsequently rallied, partly because Lim took the company on a roadshow. Then, on Nov 8, the company unveiled plans to go private at $1.78 a share, which was nearly 30% more than its volume weighted share price over the preceding month. ARA was delisted on April 17.

Now, Lim says ARA’s exit from the public market is the beginning of a new phase of growth that will see the company expand its footprint around the globe, driven by the connections and networks of two new major shareholders — US private-equity firm Warburg Pincus and China’s AVIC Trust. “We have a dream team in terms of shareholding structure,” Lim says. “When you talk about partnership, it’s not only about money. The key is [having] the right kind of shareholders who are like-minded and can share a common vision for the organisation.”

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