APG has expanded its headcount in Asia and is looking to build on a major recent logistics allocation in the region as it expands beyond Asia’s core developed markets via its favoured investment model of partnering with operators.
“Outperformance in real estate will require an understanding of, and exposure to, the operations of this asset class, hence we tend to have a bias towards partnering with operators wherever possible,” Graeme Torre, APG’s head of private real estate for Asia Pacific, told AsianInvestor.
“The team now numbers 17 with additional headcount to be added,” he said, noting that it had added two people to its Asia team since last summer. APG declined to share the detail of its Asia property allocations.
EYES ON VIETNAM
In January, APG invested in a new logistic platform in Vietnam with aims to be among the largest logistics development funds in Southeast Asia. GLP Vietnam Development Partners I, which has an investment capacity of $1.1 billion is managed by GLP, a $120bn logistics real estate and infrastructure manager.
The deal, in which APG invested alongside Canada’s Manulife, mirrors APG’s historical preference for investing alongside other large institutional investors, which Torre said offers the benefit of access to larger deals as well as governance benefits.
APG declined to say how much it had invested in the GLP platform. The new platform has six development sites already acquired in Greater Hanoi and Greater Ho Chi Minh City, comprising a total land area of close to 900,000 square metres.
Torre also declined to say whether it was considering other logistics assets in emerging Asia but in 2020, which was one of the fund’s busiest years in the region, he told AsianInvestor he was interested in Indonesia’s logistics sector, pointing to the country’s strong manufacturing base.
The Vietnam deal represents APG’s first foray into emerging Asia for a fund that has hitherto focused on China, Korea, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan.
Torre has identified the high level of e-commerce penetration of Asia’s developed markets but also regulatory benefits, including the break-up of South Korea’s large chaebol family-owned conglomerates which released logistics and other real estate assets onto the market.
In August 2021, APG announced an initial $1 billion investment with Singapore’s GIC in ESR a newly launched logistics platform targeting assets across China’s leading cities, which aims to raise up the $4 billion.
In April 2020, APG entered a $1 billion joint venture CPPIB and operator ESR to create a logistic portfolio in Korea, adding to $1.5bn of investment the three had already made in Korea.
According to CBRE, prime logistics yields in Seoul last year were 4.3%; in developed Asia, only those of Singapore, which has restrictive land tenure rules, were higher, at 6.7%.
Logistic yields in Beijing last year were 4.9%. Sharon Chan, director of Asia Pacific capital markets research at CBRE, told AsianInvestor that logistics yields in Korea were likely to fall this year, noting that Korea enjoyed among the highest levels of e-commerce penetration in the region.
PREFERRED PARTNERSHIP MODEL
Torre said the fund would consider other investment structures in Asia’s property market, including joint ventures, integrated owner-operator platforms, club deals, development, acquisition, debt and funds.
However, he noted that funds were among the least favoured options.
“It is a long time since we focused on a discretionary fund,” he said, adding that was a route it would follow only if no other means were available to invest in a sector. “We think the alpha from real estate is developing operating expertise not just allocating through a fund.”
CBRE’s Chan said that developers add value to investors because they often already have land on which to build at a time when the supply of industrial land, especially in-demand sites that are close to metropolitan areas, is scarce.
They also bring relationships with prospective tenants.
“Developers may already have a land bank, or they know occupiers locally,” she said.
In the case of Vietnam, the specialist operating partner used by GLP is SLP, a logistics developer and operator specialising in Southeast Asia. GLP is SLP’s sole financial partner and it has existing investments operated by SLP in China, Japan and India (as well as US, Europe and Brazil).