Bouwinvest and US investment manager Clarion Partners had already been working with each other for almost 15 years when Bouwinvest voiced its support for Clarion in its bid to acquire the Lion Gables Apartment Fund, which Clarion had been managing since 2005. As the Fund approached the end of its life last year, Clarion was keen to continue the Fund as an open-ended investment vehicle. Bouwinvest, which held around 10% of the shares in Lion Gables, also wanted to keep its options open and backed Clarion to win. Their syndicate emerged as winner, making both firms even closer partners than ever.
Bouwinvest and Clarion have managed to forge a truly sustainable relationship over the years, says Clarion’s Steve Furnary. “A sustainable relationship for us is one which we know exactly what our client wants and they know exactly what to expect from us. We’re open books to each other. That is exactly the kind of transparency, openness and reciprocal trust that we have developed with Bouwinvest. They are very open about wanting to work with us and very willing to give us feedback. And it gets better every single year,” Furnary says.
And with Bouwinvest, this cuts both ways, he adds. Bouwinvest has taken the time to get to know Clarion and how the US firm works, Furnary says. Bouwinvest’s regional manager North America, Gijs Plantinga, takes a very hands-on approach and likes to meet the people on the floor, so to speak. “He’s also very good at letting us know exactly what Bouwinvest wants to achieve and what it expects from us. Bouwinvest is very open about seeing Clarion as an investment manager who can do a lot for them. And they trust us, so they’re willing to move with us when we shift our focus as the market itself changes. That trust gives us a lot of freedom to help them generate higher returns on their US portfolio.”
Bouwinvest was very quick to back Clarion’s bid to acquire the Gables fund and turned out to be a fairly critical factor in Clarion’s success, Furnary says. Not only Bouwinvest actively participated in the US firm’s bid via convertible notes, its backing gave other clients the confidence to participate. “Bouwinvest took a risk, by betting that we would win the Gables bid. They acted like a real partner right from the outset and were willing to put a lot of time and effort into the transaction. And in the process we’ve gotten to know each other even better,” Furnary concludes.
Stephen J. Furnary and Gijs Plantinga