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Chicago investment firm Heitman eyes Asia-Pacific property

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2014, 3:19pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2014, 9:21am

Real estate investment management firm Heitman is roaming the Asia-Pacific in search of potential markets, including China.

However, in view of slowing economic growth in the world's second-largest economy, the Chicago-based firm will take a prudent approach before making its first investment there.

China slipped below the official 7.5 per cent growth target in the first quarter to an 18-month low of 7.4 per cent.

Managing director Mary Ludgin said China was a big market that no real estate fund could neglect. But she said: "Recognising the Chinese economy is in a major period of change, we are patient; no need to rush."

Founded in 1966, Heitman's business focuses mainly on three areas: private equity real estate, real estate related to securities and real estate debt. The company has global assets under management of about US$1.1 billion in the region, overshadowed by its US$23.6 billion in investments in North America and US$5.3 billion in Europe.

Heitman has yet to make an investment in Hong Kong.

"We are looking hard in Hong Kong," Ludgin said.

"Hong Kong is a market that moves rapidly; we want the right point of entry. We are watching the market closely."

She said the company was interested in commercial, not residential, property.

Heitman is one of numerous global funds that have so far underweighted the Asia-Pacific but have regained interest in the region, partly for the sake of diversification.

In this week's C-Suite, Ludgin shares her views on the company's investment strategy in the Asia-Pacific and on the investment potential of the region