CIC reportedly hires former Starr International exec to lead RE funds

The former private equity chief at Starr, Collin Lau, has reportedly joined China’s sovereign wealth fund to head its real estate investment funds. He is expected to join the fund by the end of the year or early 2009.

China’s sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corp., has hired former Starr International executive Collin Lau to lead its real estate investment funds, according to Reuters.

The former managing director joined investment firm Starr in 2006 to take charge of its $2 billion Asia Pacific private equity programme. According to sources cited in the report, Lau will join CIC late this month or in early January.

The news follows reports earlier this week that the $200 billion wealth fund also hired Zhou Yuan as head of alternative investments.

Zhou is currently an advisor to the asset management arm of global financial services company State Street. From 1998 to 2000, he held a senior position at Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing. For four years prior to that, Zhou was the China head of investment bank UBS.

At China Investment Corp., Zhou is expected to have responsibility for direct investments and for investments in real estate funds and private equity funds. He will report directly to CIC president Gao Xiqing, according to Reuters. The report quoted a source as saying Zhou would have the power to approve or veto major deals involving foreign assets.

CIC has steadily increased its exposure to alternative investments, and is most noted for its stake in the New York-based private equity and real estate firm, The Blackstone Group. In October, CIC increased its ownership stake in the firm to 12.5 percent from 9.99 percent, despite falling share values.