Singapore-based real estate firm Ascendas is expanding its footprint in China with the signing of a real estate partnership with Ping An Trust, a subsidiary of the country’s largest insurance company Ping An Insurance. The partnership will see Ascendas and Ping An collaborate in the real estate sector both in China and other Asian markets going forward, according to an Ascendas statement.
According to Jonathan Yap, assistant group chief executive for overseas funds at Ascendas, the partnership will start out focusing on China and expand to “other Asian markets where Ascendas has a presence, which are in line with Ping An's long-term plans of diversifying beyond China.” The target size of the partnership was not disclosed, and Yap said both the timeline and long-term goals are subject to further discussion.
The partnership is expected to explore opportunities in both co-investment strategies and the formation of RMB-denominated funds. Ping An Insurance also could explore the possibility of leasing space from Ascendas’ properties.
“Through the partnership with Ping An, Ascendas hopes to tap into longer-term insurance capital to co-invest in China and set up RMB-denominated real estate funds in the future,” Yap said. He added that further collaboration also is being explored, including having Ascendas “serve Ping An's real estate needs.”
“This partnership with Ping An Trust… provides a strong platform for future growth,” Manohar Khiatani, president and group chief executive of Ascendas, said in the statement. “With a proven partner in Ping An Trust, it will help strengthen our presence in China as we leverage on their deep knowledge and broad networks in identifying investment and capital-raising opportunities.”
For now, the partnership platform is focusing on office and mixed-use properties and is expected to complement Ascendas’ other businesses in China. With 18 years of experience in China specifically, the firm specializes in developing and operating business spaces specifically, including IT parks, logistics parks, offices and retail. Indeed, one of its flagship projects is Ascendas-Xinsu in Suzhou Industrial Park.
By far, Ping An has been the most active Chinese insurance company in real estate investment. Last year, the firm bought the Lloyd’s of London building for £260 million (€313 million; $435 million), and it currently is understood to be building out its in-house real estate team.