Ping An Insurance

Ping An Insurance eyes high-yielding overseas properties

The mainland insurer aims to invest mostly in the United States, Europe, Australia and Japan

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 November, 2013, 3:10am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 November, 2013, 3:10am

Ping An Insurance, which made its first overseas property acquisition in July, is seeking high-yielding offshore property investments and says it is flexible about teaming up with partners to explore opportunities.

The United States, European countries such as Britain, Germany and France, Japan and Australia were possible destinations being looked at, said Lee Hing-yin, a senior executive director of Ping An Trust, a unit of Ping An Insurance.

"We have no specific strategy, but we look at it from a high-yield perspective," Lee said yesterday at the MIPIM Asia international property show.

Ping An, the mainland's second-largest life insurer, announced in July that it was buying the iconic Lloyd's Building in London for £260 million (HK$3.24 billion). The purchase translated into a net initial yield of 6.1 per cent.

It was the first direct overseas property acquisition by a mainland insurer and followed the relaxation of rules by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission in October last year, allowing them to invest in other countries.

In July and October last year, the regulator issued new regulations that permitted insurance companies to invest a maximum of 15 per cent of their total assets in non-self-use real estate, either domestically or in overseas property markets.

The new rules limited the companies to investing in "mature retail and office properties with stable income, located in the central areas of the major cities in 25 developed markets", and also listed 20 emerging economies where companies could invest.

International property consultant CBRE said mainland insurers could invest up to US$14.4 billion in overseas real estate.

Lee said Ping An invested in hard assets domestically but would be flexible about other forms of investments offshore.

When it came to big investments, he said the company would consider partnerships or joint ventures.

Another speaker at the forum, Qiu Jianwei, an investment director of Taikang Property Investment, a unit of the mainland's Taikang Insurance, said it had been studying investment opportunities overseas, with preferred locations in North America and European countries such as Germany.