AEW Asia plots fund in 2013 as it seeks regional head

With the platform’s 2008, $557m AEW Value Investors Asia just three investments from wrapping up, plans are afoot for a successor fund to hit the market early next year. Meanwhile, the firm is searching for a new MD after Peter Wittendorp span out a team earlier this summer.

AEW Asia, the Asia division of global real estate investment manager AEW, is preparing for the launch of a follow-up fund to its first Asia effort, AEW Value Investors Asia.

The firm is currently seeking a new head following the departure of Peter Wittendorp who span out a team to create a boutique fund manager called SilkRoad Property Partners in July. However in a sign of continued ambition AEW Asia said it expects to launch the successor fund early in 2013.

AEW Asia’s efforts are presently under the stewardship of Jeff Furber, AEW’s chief executive officer, who is serving as interim managing director while a replacement for Wittendorp is found. His leadership is being supplemented by Jeffrey Ong, director and country manager for Singapore. Ong will oversee the platform, which currently manages approximately $2 billion of assets, on the ground from the Singapore office.

The platform is currently nearing the end of the harvesting period of the AEW Value Investors Asia fund, which attracted $557.8 million from investors in August 2008. Raised with a value-added focus on Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and China, the fund’s capital was intended to be deployed across the traditional asset classes into redevelopment, repositioning, re-leasing and recapitalisation opportunities. It was also able to be invested in selective development situations.

A spokeswoman from AEW told PERE the fund was currently in its disposition phase and the firm was “on track to meet the fund objectives”. She said the fund was expected to have exited its remaining three investments over the next six to 12 months.

She said: “We are proud of our successful Asian real estate platform and are fully committed to our business in Asia. The AEW Asia team has experience in both the listed and the direct property markets, allowing us to offer access to both public and private investment strategies to investors seeking exposure to this dynamic region.”

Meanwhile, Wittendorp’s SilkRoad Property Partners has been launched with offices in Singapore and Hong Kong. The firm is positioning itself as an employee-owned, boutique fund management firm with a focus on managing Asian private equity real estate funds. While news of a debut fund has yet to emerge, the team has departed from AEW with a mandate as portfolio manager and sub-advisor to the AEW Value Investors Asia fund. Wittendorp declined to comment.