The China Investment Corporation (CIC), China’s $400 billion sovereign wealth fund, is today without a head of its real estate division after latest incumbent Patrick Wu reportedly tendered his resignation.
The loss of Wu comes as something of a surprise given he was only made head in December, replacing Collin Lau who became head of Europe in the state fund’s private equity division.
According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Wu informed friends in an email, seen by the newspaper, that he was leaving CIC “to take some time off and be with my family before my next endeavour”. That email was dated last Tuesday.
PERE revealed Wu’s ascent to the top job last December. At that point, he was to take part in a transition process with Lau that was to run into January.
Wu joined CIC in March 2008 and was one of CIC’s six-strong real estate team. He previously worked for more than seven years at North Carolina-based Wachovia, the financial services firm acquired by Wells Fargo in the same year.
US-educated, Wu has experience in global real estate debt investments, particularly the RMBS and CMBS markets and this was expected to play some part in CIC’s real estate strategy going forward.
Lau’s switch to private equity marked a return to the asset class for him as he had previously held roles at Starr International Group, leading its Asia private equity platform, and Baring Private Equity Asia where he was a managing director.
Lau’s almost three-year tenure leading CIC’s real estate division is understood to have been unusually long for a department head at the sovereign fund. Most department heads are thought to rotate their roles more frequently.
Nonetheless, during his time at the helm, Lau led CIC’s participation in various high-profile transactions, including the recapitalisations of US mall giant General Growth Properties last year and London's Canary Wharf landlord Songbird Estates in 2009, as well as the privatisation of ING Industrial Fund in Australia at the turn of the year.