Chong replaces veteran Uren to lead Franklin Templeton’s APAC real assets team

Woon Pin Chong has taken on the mantle of managing director for Franklin Real Asset Advisors in Asia Pacific from the firm’s long-serving senior executive Glenn Uren.

Franklin Real Asset Advisors, the New York-based Franklin Templeton’s real estate and infrastructure investment management platform, has appointed Woon Pin Chong to head its Asia Pacific operations.

As managing director, Chong is expected to lead the firm’s investment team comprising three personnel in the region in research, analysis and transactions in addition to being responsible for business development and marketing of real estate investment products and strategies.

Chong has taken over the charge from Glenn Uren, who decided to retire from the firm and the investment management industry effective May 1, 2017. Uren spent 20 years with Franklin Templeton Investments and served the Asia Pacific leadership role sitting out of the firm’s New York office.

Chong will be based in Singapore. He joined the firm in last September and has previously worked as the Asia managing director at the Australian investment manager Centuria Capital. His two decades of industry experience also includes stints at Lend Lease Investment Management, Colliers International, and Savant Global Capital where he served as a managing director.

Commenting on the hire, Mark Browning, the firm’s managing director for Asia Pacific, said in a statement: “In the private equity real estate space, we have observed that the Asia Pacific region remains a key market for our clients and investor interest is robust. Long term growth prospects for real estate in the region remain bright and supported by strong fundamentals. We are excited to have someone of Woon Pin’s calibre on board and look forward to leveraging his knowledge and experience as our business continues to grow.”

Though Franklin Templeton declined to disclose its specific regional real estate assets under management, PERE understands that close to one third of its overall global portfolio comprises Asia-Pacific investments.

The firm is also understood to have moved away from launching Asia-focused vehicles to have a more global focus for its value-add strategies. Back in 2013, PERE had reported on the firm’s plans to launch Franklin Templeton Asia Real Estate Fund II, its second Asia fund of funds with a $300 million target.

Commenting on the fundraising status, a Franklin Templeton spokesperson told PERE via email: “We did not go ahead with a second Asian FoF that targeted European investors. Instead we launched FTPREF I (Franklin Templeton Private Real Estate Fund I) and FTPREF II which have a similar absolute total return, but global focused value-add strategy and has been offered to institutional investors around the world including in the APAC region. The objective of the FTPREF series is to provide our investors access to high-quality, hard-to-find/mispriced real estate investment opportunities around the world including in APAC markets.”

“The reason for the global focus in our value-add strategies is because local real estate market cycles in different regions move independently of one another, providing the greatest natural diversification and opportunity set for real estate investing,” the spokesperson went on to add.