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MSCI buys commercial property research firm


The increasingly expansionary MSCI Group is to buy Real Capital Analytics (RCA), a property research firm. The Australian operation is earmarked for strong growth.

MSCI announced last week (August 3) that it would pay US$950 million (A$1.3 billion) for RCA, which was founded in the US a little over 20 years ago, in 2000, by chief executive Robert White.

  • In December last year, RCA decided to build a fully fledged Australian research capability and recruited David Metcalfe from FactSet, a global financial data provider with a big Australian presence, as its regional director based in Sydney.

    He had spent 10 years at FactSet, most recently as regional sales director, and then did a six-month stint at Pendal Group as global data manager involved in its data transformation strategy, as that firm also becomes increasingly global.

    Metcalfe posted on Linkedin: “I will be coordinating a significant investment and uplift locally across technical, analytical, and sales staff as part of RCA’s global office expansion. This is to provide a deeper localised product offering for the Australian commercial property market.”

    The move by MSCI takes the firm further down the path of generating its own data and analytics, which has become well developed, especially in the ESG space in recent years, although many in the industry still see it as primarily a provider of global and regional indices of all shapes and sizes.

    In his post, Metcalfe says: “RCA is the authority on the deals, the players and the trends that drive the commercial real estate investment markets. Covering all markets globally, RCA delivers timely and reliable data with unique insight into market participants, pricing, and capital flows.

    “The most active investors, lenders and advisers depend on RCA’s market intelligence to formulate strategy and to source, underwrite and execute deals.”

    Apart from Sydney and the New York head office, RCA has offices in San Jose, London and Singapore.

    MSCI’s most recent major acquisition was of Carbon Delta, a Zurich-based climate change analytics company, at the end of 2019. Prior to that it purchased GMI Ratings, Investor Force from the Internet Capital Group, Investment Property Databank and RiskMetrics, which all contributed to the diversification from index building and management.

    RCA has a global database of more than 200,000 investors and lenders and covering more than US$20 trillion of commercial property transactions.

    Henry Fernandez, the MSCI chief executive, said in a statement that the commercial real estate market was seeing a substantial transformation including the shifting behaviours in work, lifestyle and travel, a realignment in global supply chains and the impact of climate change.

    Robert White

    Robert White said: “MSCI is a natural home for RCA since our primary goal has always been to bridge the information gap between commercial real estate and other asset classes across the financial markets.”

    The transaction, expected to be completed by the end of the third quarter or early in the fourth, will be paid for from MSCI’s cash reserves.

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