September's most read: DWS whistleblower says greenwashing is widespread; Logistics real estate a hit

DWS is not the only firm misrepresenting on ESG, Desiree Fixler said; Sunsuper turns opportunist on China high-yield property; Funding gap persists in Asia Pacific even as funds pour in; Barings to open Singapore office in November
September's most read: DWS whistleblower says greenwashing is widespread; Logistics real estate a hit

DWS whistleblower says greenwashing is widespread

Following her revelations that DWS was seriously overstating the extent of its green investment activity, sustainability expert Desiree Fixler has resurfaced with fresh accusations that the German fund house is not the only firm misrepresenting on the issue.

Speaking on Thursday (September 9) on a conference call arranged by the ESG leadership forum TBLI, Fixler said any investor’s approach to ESG has be based on authenticity.

“It’s OK to lag and to make mistakes in adapting to this market. Where it’s dangerous and extremely harmful is when you cross that line into misrepresentation. When you are aware that you might lag in certain areas and yet externally you promote it as super world class.”

She said it was “no longer an issue of struggling with a lack of clarity in the market, when you launch products that talk about saving the environment and rooting for social justice.”

Sunsuper turns opportunist on China high-yield property debt

One of Australia’s largest superannuation funds Sunsuper said it is being an opportunist about taking debt positions in some southern Europe and Asian real estate markets, including with the small amount of debt it holds in the stricken China Evergrande Group.

Sunsuper, which manages AU$85 billion ($61.6 billion) of assets ‒ about 10% is in real estate ‒ is willing to take more risks when its senior debt strategy is performing well, said Head of Alternative Strategies Bruce Tomlinson during a panel discussion on real estate debt of AsianInvestor’s Private Assets Investment Week.

About half of the firm’s real estate debt positions are in funds, with the other half in non-funds through separately managed accounts or other mandates with external fund managers.

Its real estate lending exposure ranges from senior first-lien debt instruments to equity-like positions such as nonperforming loans. Its core positions mean it has positions in US mortgages, and construction finance in Australia and China, which is mostly senior debt.

Logistics real estate a hit as APG, GIC and AIA partner specialised firms

Logistics real estate in China, Japan, and Europe is set to see higher inflows as asset owners such as AIA Group, GIC and APG signed strategic partnerships with logistics companies and investment platforms.

Last Wednesday (August 25), Hong Kong-based Insurance giant AIA Group and Singapore-based logistics company GLP announced the forming of a strategic investment partnership to invest in global logistics real estate assets and related opportunities.

A joint news release by the two partners stated that trends powering the growth of the global logistics real estate sector will “provide AIA with immense opportunities to diversify its investment portfolio and enhance returns for its customers and shareholders [by leveraging] GLP’s investment experience and expertise in this area.”

Meanwhile, Hong Kong-listed logistics investment platform ESR announced the creation of a China logistics development fund on August 16, confirming capital commitments from Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC as well as Dutch pension fund manager APG Asset Management, of up to $4 billion in investment capacity.

Funding gap persists in Asia Pacific even as funds pour into private credit

Despite growing interest in private credit markets globally, investment experts still believe there are opportunities to be exploited across the west and Asia Pacific, and have devised their own sustainability frameworks for investing in private markets.

Assets have not yet reached a point of being overpriced, even as institutional investors continue to pour capital into private markets, the experts from the likes of Aware Super and M&G Investments said during a panel discussion at the AsianInvestor Private Assets Investment Week on September 14.

Despite the amount of liquidity entering private credit markets, the panellists generally agreed that there remained plenty of opportunities within the space, with each eyeing different regions.

Bev Durston, alternatives advisor to Royal Mail Pension Plan and managing director of independent consultancy Edgehaven acknowledged that the emerging asset class is less attractive than it was in 2020 because of the number of investors rushing into the market, but said that a sweet spot for the asset class exists in Asia, as well as in the US mid- to lower mid-market space.

Barings to open Singapore office in Nov; considers private assets team expansion

US asset manager Barings aims to open its Singapore office in early November, and is looking to expand its private assets teams through hirings or acquisitions, AsianInvestor can reveal.

Duncan Robertson, head of global business development and head of Asia Pacific shared the firm’s latest business strategies with AsianInvestor in an exclusive interview, noting that Asia Pacific now makes up more than a third of its third-party assets under management (AUM) and is expected to be a key driver of growth for the firm. 

A third of Barings’ global third-party AUM is generated from Asia Pacific clients, he said, although he declined to provide details on how much the third-party flows were.

He did, however, highlight some themes that the fund had spotted in the region, which included environmental, social and governance (ESG) engagement, offshore allocations, equity thematics, income replacement strategies, and an increasing appetite for alternatives such as private credit and real assets.

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