Europe-based TH Real Estate eyes Asia for growth

Group will use acquisitions, organic growth and partnerships to build regional presence

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 May, 2014, 5:08am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 May, 2014, 5:08am

TIAA Henderson Real Estate (TH Real Estate), one of the world's largest real estate investment managers with US$71 billion in property assets under management, plans to build up a strong platform in the Asia-Pacific, including Japan and China, through organic growth, acquisitions and partnerships.

"Ten years from now, I will be disappointed if we do not have a size in the region close to that of Europe [where] we have investments worth over US$20 billion," chief executive James Darkins said.

TH Real Estate, which was launched last month, consists of US group TIAA-CREF's European real estate arm and London-based Henderson Global Investors' European and Asia-Pacific property businesses.

Headquartered in London, the joint venture also has investments in the Asia-Pacific worth US$550 million, an amount Darkins described as "relatively small", but one he said he would like to expand.

"Organic growth, acquisition and partnership are the three legs to our strategy," he said.

Darkins said the company was looking for capable specialists across the Asia-Pacific region that could help it invest wisely and safely for its clients.

TH Real Estate does not yet have any acquisitions under negotiation, but it is in discussion with a number of companies in China, Singapore and Japan.

"In the next 18 months, you will certainly hear some exciting news from us," Darkins said.

Separately, the company plans to work with its partner RDM Asia to develop luxury designer outlet malls.

TH Real Estate will first expand an existing outlet in Tianjin and then open two more, in Shanghai and in Foshan, Guangdong province.

Through Silk Road Holdings, the company plans to work with partners to develop six to 10 designer outlet malls close to first-tier cities on the mainland in the next five years, according to Chris Reilly, the Asia-Pacific managing director at TH Real Estate.

The shareholders of Silk Road are the Italian Fingen Group of the Fratini family, the Luxembourg-based China Outlet Mall controlled by Jacopo Mazzei, Gaw Capital Partners from Hong Kong, the Sino-US Waitex affiliate and a major US institutional investor.

Silk Road is advised by RDM Asia, the real estate development arm of the Fingen Group in Asia, as operating and development partner alongside TH Real Estate, which acts as investment adviser.

TH Real Estate said China was just part of its expansion in Asia.

The group is also eyeing other cities, such as in Japan, where it sees opportunities.