M&G keen to acquire logistics assets

Property fund manager M&G Real Estate is seeking acquisition targets in Asia-Pacific, particularly in the logistics sector.

The firm, which is a unit of insurer Prudential, manages about US$2.5 billion (S$3.4 billion) worth of assets in Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea.

"The Asia book today is still a very small portion of our M&G Real Estate business, and obviously we hope we can grow... Asia-Pacific as a percentage of the entire book," Ms Ng Chiang Ling, its chief executive and chief investment officer for Asia- Pacific, said yesterday.

The firm is one of the top 25 real estate fund managers in the world by assets under management, with about US$33 billion invested in properties in Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific as at June 30.

Ms Ng said it is exploring opportunities in the logistics sector in Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and maybe Singapore.

"To the extent that we can secure some kind of built-to-suit type of opportunity with a large logistics operator, obviously we will be quite keen to pursue this opportunity."

If a potential acquisition materialises, M&G Real Estate's "deep capital queue" will place it in a good position to close the deal. Ms Ng said the amount of capital looking for investment options "by far outweighs the availability of opportunities".

There is also increasing interest from pension funds and insurance firms to invest further in Asia, she noted in an interview on the sidelines of the opening of M&G Real Estate's refurbished Compass One mall in Sengkang.

The mall is one of the top 10 assets in M&G's Asia property portfolio, which is targeted at institutional investors.

Despite concerns over the weak retail industry, which has been dogged by slower sales and competition from e-commerce, Ms Ng believes suburban malls like Compass One remain resilient as they serve the daily needs of the population in the area.

M&G Real Estate said the mall has an occupancy rate of 95 per cent, with some space set aside for pop-up stores.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2016, with the headline 'M&G keen to acquire logistics assets'. Print Edition | Subscribe