Schroders, the 216-year old UK-based multinational asset manager, has bought control of a Hong Kong real estate investment manager, in a vote of confidence of the city’s role as a regional hub for financial and professional management services, even as it finds itself caught in the escalating rivalry between the US and China. Schroders has taken over Pamfleet, with 19 properties in Hong Kong, Singapore and China valued at US$1.1 billion under management, according to a press statement that did not divulge the takeover price. After the purchase, the Hong Kong property manager’s entire team of 19 professionals will remain with the company, which will be renamed Schroder Pamfleet. The acquisition, which bolsters Schroders’ US$20.2 billion in real estate holdings, may go some way towards calming frayed nerves, after the US Congress threatened to strip Hong Kong of its autonomous customs status from mainland China, in retaliation for the Chinese legislature’s passing of a national security law for the city. “Business is business,” said CGS-CIMB Securities’ head of Hong Kong and China research Raymond Cheng. “From the point of investment, Hong Kong still an important city in Asia. The transaction can be seen as a vote of confidence in Hong Kong’s future. To a certain extent, the national security law is effective in restoring the city’s stability. We have seen most property stocks surge today.” The optimism was reflected last weekend, when CK Asset Holdings Limited’s 462 apartments at its Sea To Sky project in Lohas Park sold out to a packed crowd , with as many as 28 buyers submitting bids for every available unit. Real estate stocks chalked up gains on the Hong Kong stock exchange on the first trading day of the second half, led by a 6.8 per cent jump in the stock price of China Overseas Land & Investments, a large developer. “This absolutely shows that international investors are still very confident about the long-term prospects of Hong Kong’s property market,” said Antonio Wu, deputy managing director of Capital Markets at Colliers International. “Pamfleet has a very talented team in both acquisition and asset management, so they can make all the right critical decisions and execute their plans for value-added propositions. Pamfleet manages 15 projects in Hong Kong, including the 148-room hotel TraveLodge Central, at the intersection of Hollywood Road and Possession Street. It also manages The Nate, a 13-storey serviced apartment on Nathan Road in Kowloon, and the 27-storey Bonham Circus commercial building in Sheung Wan. It manages a project each in Shanghai and Nanjing, and two in Singapore. “Pamfleet’s strong presence within the Asian real estate market as a leader in the value-added style complements the existing Schroders offering within real estate and private assets to provide extra choice for new and existing investors,” said Duncan Owen, global head of Schroder Real Estate. The acquisition reinforces Schroders’ private assets and real estate capabilities, building on the recent purchases of Blue Asset Management, the value-add real estate specialist in Munich, and Algonquin, the pan-European value-added Real Estate Hotels team. Schroders said “it also brings significant additional industry expertise and geographical reach into some of the largest and fastest growing Asian real estate markets which are attractive to Schroders’ global clientele.” There will be no changes to the management of the existing Pamfleet funds, and the investment team will have access to the broader investment capabilities and distribution network of the wider Schroders business. “We will continue to actively target Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore,” Andrew Moore, chief executive and co-founder of Pamfleet told the South China Morning Post . “We will also consider the Greater Bay Area and other key cities in China and the rest of Asia.” He added that despite the present challenges, Hong Kong still offers opportunity for good risk-adjusted returns in certain asset classes.