Global property giant 'to launch Asian expansion from S'pore'

Singapore is central to TH Real Estate’s growth agenda for the region, says Mr Chris Reilly, its managing director for the Asia-Pacific. The firm is also keen to invest in the retail sector here.
Singapore is central to TH Real Estate’s growth agenda for the region, says Mr Chris Reilly, its managing director for the Asia-Pacific. The firm is also keen to invest in the retail sector here. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

A GLOBAL giant in real estate management aims to use Singapore as a launching pad to dramatically increase its assets under management across Asia.

London-based TIAA Henderson Real Estate (TH Real Estate), whose Asia-Pacific headquarters is located here, has US$1.5 billion (S$2 billion) in assets under management in Asia.

Mr Chris Reilly, its managing director for the Asia-Pacific, told The Straits Times he plans to boost the figure to bring it more in line with the firm's businesses in the United States and Europe.

Its assets under management exceed US$50 billion in the US, and US$25 billion in Europe and Britain. In Asia, it has a stake in Jem shopping mall here and several assets in Australia.

Mr Reilly, who is based here said: "Singapore has been very successful in attracting wealth management, financial and banking services... I think it can continue to reinvent itself with the value-added options provided by some of the business parks and the Biopolis."

He said his clients are looking for long-term, stable and consistent returns, and the Central Business District, "with good transparency and good information flow", offers suitable opportunities.

He said the firm's business strategy is tied to five demographic trends - urbanisation, the rise of the global middle class, the shift of economic power from the West, ageing populations and global interconnectedness.

Urbanisation could lead to growing demand for office and retail space in cities. And the rise of the middle class could affect spending, which in turn affects retail businesses, said Mr Reilly.

Meanwhile, the shift in power from the West to the East could affect the real estate that his firm wants to invest in, he noted.

With a US$30 billion global fund in the retail sector, TH Real Estate is keen on this segment here, he said.

"There are slightly different characteristics here. You have suburban retail, Orchard retail, downtown retail. And they behave a little bit differently," he said. "Assets defensive to online and e-retailing are the type we kind of look to acquire."

He believes urbanisation, the rise of the middle class and the shift in economic power will support growth in Asia.

"We intend to build our assets quite significantly. We want to bring our clients' capital from outside Asia to investments in the Asia-Pacific," he said.

"We also have a very large, established platform globally. There is a lot of opportunity on that platform we can bring to clients.

"Singapore is key in that strategy. Here is our headquarters for the Asia-Pacific. It provides good connectivity with the region."

The firm, which manages US$82.4 billion globally, was fully acquired by the New York-based Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund in April this year.

joycel@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2015, with the headline 'Global property giant 'to launch Asian expansion from S'pore''. Print Edition | Subscribe