CITIC Capital has hired a four-strong team from Amsterdam-based retail property company Redevco as it looks to bolster its retail real estate and fund management capabilities.
The firm announced it had hired the team, led by managing director Robert Lie, from Redevco Asia. The other three executives to join were architect Willem Jan de Hek, Dennis Fung from its investment team and Chenxia Yu from its asset management team.
The switch by Lie and his team comes after CITIC evolved its investment strategy to focus solely on China’s retail real estate market. At the end of last year, the firm held a first closing of $225 million for its fourth opportunity fund, CITIC Capital China Retail Properties Investment Fund, thanks to large backing from The Townsend Group, the Cleveland-based investment and advisory firm.
The firm aims to raise $600 million in total for the fund, which was seeded with a shopping mall in Changsha, the Hunan province.
CITIC began growing its real estate division in 2005 and has since invested in 19 projects across china on behalf of four funds, comprising approximately 34 million square feet of space with an asset value of approximately $3.4 billion.
Stanley Ching, CITIC Capital’s senior managing director and head of real estate said in the announcement the hire of Lie and his team would enable CITIC to “enhance our capabilities in this attractive but also complex sector”.
Lie underlined CITIC’s strategy of capitalising on China’s increasing urbanisation trend via its retail real estate market. He said: “We believe that CITIC Capital is the right platform for us to continue our work given its strong track record, its extensive network in China and its commitment to quality and high corporate governance standards.”
Lie was hired by Redevco in April 2008 from ING Real Estate Investment Management to build an Asia division from an office in Hong Kong. The hire came shortly after Redevco had made its first investment in the region, a $30 million commitment to the maiden fund of pan-Asia private equity real estate firm Arch Capital, Arch Capital Asian Partners Fund.
According to an announcement on his hire then, Redevco had hoped it would precipitate the building of a real estate portfolio made up principally of retail investments and developments in China and India. However, the firm’s current marketing literature makes no reference to the Hong Kong office nor any investments in the region. The firm currently manages a European portfolio valued at approximately €7.4 billion, made up predominantly from assets in Belgium, Germany, France and the UK.
Redevco was not immediately available for comment at press time.