EXCLUSIVE: Ivanhoé Cambridge taps Agethen for Asia growth

The C$42 billion real estate investment management business of Canadian institutional investor, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, has hired Ping An’s George Agethen to bolster its presence in Asia’s real estate markets.

Ivanhoé Cambridge, the real estate investment management business of Canadian institutional investor, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, has signed the head of Ping An Trust’s Alternative Investment Department to strengthen its presence in Asia.

The firm is expected to announce shortly it has appointed George Agethen as a senior vice president, Asia Pacific, growth markets, to help lead investments in the region. He is expected to start next week and will report to Rita Rose Gagné, Ivanhoe’s executive vice president who leads the institution’s investing strategies in what it terms ‘growth markets’ – principally South and Central America and Asia.

Agethen, a Singaporean national with a track record of raising money for and investing in Chinese real estate, will be joining one of real estate’s oldest institutional investors. Founded in 1953, the firm has since built up a portfolio of real estate that extends beyond 160 million square feet, across the asset classes of office, retail, residential and logistics and is valued at C$42 billion (€28.87 billion; $32.17 billion).

Ivanhoé Cambridge has historically invested in Asia, but really ramped up its activity in the region this year. In the Spring it teamed up with The Blackstone Group to buy a 25 percent stake in Sydney’s City Place office tower for A$240 million (€157 million; $175 million) and, in June, it made two large outlays in China. These were a significant interest in Chongbang, a Shanghai-based developer and owner of retail-anchored mixed-use properties, acquired via a $920 million equity raising, and an undisclosed investment in LOGOS China Logistics Club, an industrial property joint venture led by another Shanghai-based developer, Logos Property.

The switch will mean Agethen worked for Ping An Trust for 14 months although PERE’s sources understand he and his team had been hugely active for the newly-formed division of one of China’s largest conglomerates. Indeed, it is thought that during his tenure, the division deployed about $1.5 billion into direct and indirect investments, including investments in the US, China, the UK and Australia.

He inherited the leadership of Ping An Trust’s Alternative Investment Department after Rong Ren, who was initially supposed to be head, was unable to assume the post. Ren and Agethen had worked together for a number of years including at Harvest Real Estate Investments, a joint venture between Chinese asset manager Harvest Funds Management and London-based property firm Grosvenor and, before that, Harvest Capital Partners, the private equity real estate firm of Chinese state-owned conglomerate China Resources. That firm is now known as CR Capital Real Estate Partners.

Having left Ping An Trust, Agethen’s duties are understood to have been passed to Hing-Yin Lee, a senior executive director who has been instrumental in formulating its real estate strategy over recent years.

Neither Agethen nor Invanhoé Cambridge would comment.