Corporate high-flier Victor Yeung puts his faith in real estate funds

Entrepreneur invests his own savings in asset management company, aiming for a portfolio of US$200 million by the end of the year

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 January, 2014, 5:33am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 January, 2014, 5:33am

After an outstanding decade helping to manage other people's businesses, Victor Yeung decided the time was right to invest in himself and run his own business.

In April last year, the 33-year-old set up a real estate fund management firm called Admiral Investment, and has set his sights on having US$200 million of assets under management by the end of this year.

After completing three bachelor degrees and a master's degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by the age of 23, Yeung began working for investment bank Morgan Stanley in 2003. He moved from there to LaSalle Investment Management's Asia Pacific securities division in 2006 and in 2011, at the comparatively young age of 31, was appointed managing director of the division.

"I became the second-youngest person to be appointed to such a senior position after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who had joined the Hong Kong office of the group when it was still known as Jones Lang Wootton. Leung was promoted as partner - which is equivalent to the rank today of managing director - when he was 29 years old," said Yeung.

His rapid climb up the corporate ladder was cemented by an outstanding performance record, which also gave him the courage to make the leap to running his own business.

"Between 2010 and 2012, the portfolio I managed performed better than the property index," he said. Yeung had set aside savings of HK$15 million that he earned from Jones Lang, and with this seed capital opened for business in July last year.

His company worked on assembling a portfolio of investments in listed real estate investment trusts in Asia Pacific and attracted one institutional investor to join the fund.

Reits were regarded as similar to bonds when they were first launched in Hong Kong, said Yeung, and they were targeted by investors for their stable income. Since then their evolution in Hong Kong has been slow compared with other markets such as Singapore and Japan. But recent proposals by the government to relax regulatory constraints on their performance will increase investor interest, he said. In November, the Financial Services Development Council raised proposed that reits be allowed to allocate up to 10 per cent of their total assets to property development projects.

Its other recommendations include granting Hong Kong- listed reits exemption from the 16.5 per cent profits tax on rental income, and exempting them from paying stamp duty on the transfer of commercial properties. Yeung said the proposed tax arrangement would be an incentive.