Aware (formerly First State) Super’s investment in Oak Tree tops $150M with 18 villages underway or waiting for approval – enquiry rates up substantially on same time last year

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Three years since it took a majority share in the QLD-based village operator, the $125 billion industry fund is seeing a return on its investment with Oak Tree preparing to roll out a number of new villages before the end of this year.

As we reported here, the super fund bought into the operator – originally founded in 2004 by Mark Bindon, Franco De Pasquale and Marco De Pasquale – in mid-2017.

Since then, Oak Tree has acquired 12 sites that are now under development or about to start construction with a further six villages in the process of obtaining planning approval.

Today, it has 31 villages in operation across QLD, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania – with a number of new sites set to open their doors before the end of the year including in the Hunter Valley and Coffs Harbour.

Managing Director Mark Bindon (pictured above right) tells us that the Newcastle area is their most active at the moment, with a new village at Cardiff Heights receiving DA approval and due to start construction before Christmas.

Mark also says their enquiry rate is up “substantially” on the same time last year – which he attributes to the favourable light that retirement villages are being seen in post-COVID.

“The sector is being reassessed by the general public as a safe haven,” he said.

He sees the sector attracting more attention from a broader investment audience in the future.

“In retirement, we’ve proven that it’s a great place to be in the middle of a COVID-type crisis, we offer support, credibility and connectivity,” he said, pointing to the recent interest in retirement living in New Zealand.

“In a very low return environment, we could see strong interest both domestically and offshore in our space.”

“It’s early days, but the sector is going to come under a lot more assessment as a credible asset class.”

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Lauren is the Editor at DCM Group and has guided its range of media including The Weekly SOURCE, The Daily RESOURCE and The Donaldson Sisters since 2016. With 13 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and commentator, Lauren is the only journalist to have attended every session of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, producing 300 issues of the subscriber-only The Daily COMMISSION which offers exclusive insights and analysis of the issues surrounding the Royal Commission and the aged care sector.