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EXCLUSIVE: PREI Asia restructure precedes next fund

As it prepares to bring its third pan-Asia fund to the market, the real estate investment management arm of US financial services firm Prudential Financial has promoted Benett Theseira to head of Asia replacing Morgan Laughlin who becomes its head of Japan.  

Pramerica Real Estate Investors (PREI), the real estate investment management arm of US financial services firm Prudential Financial, has reorganized the senior leadership in its Asia team as it readies the market for a large pan-Asia fund launch, PERE can reveal.

The firm has promoted Singapore-based Benett Theseira to become head of the Asia business, replacing Tokyo-based Morgan Laughlin who has been made head of Japan. Theseira was previously PREI’s head of Southeast Asia. The changes become effective as of April 1.
The reorganization happens as PREI prepares to launch its third pan-Asia real estate investment fund, Asia Property Fund III, for which it could have a fundraising target of more than $500 million.
For that fund, and more generally, PREI is aiming to place a greater than before emphasis on investments in Japan, a strategic objective that PREI chief executive officer, Eric Adler, said necessitated the change involving “our two key people” in the region.
He would not discuss the firm’s fundraising intentions but he underlined the extent to which the private real estate markets in Japan would figure in its ongoing activities. PREI currently has approximately $1 billion of its $6.8 billion of Asian assets under management in Japan but Adler said he was hoping the firm would multiple that number considerably under Laughlin’s remit.
He said: “Under this construct…the idea that five years from now we could have $5 billion-plus in Japan, I’m very comfortable saying that.”

He added: “We do think the fact that Asia has been softening a bit and a lot of Asian investors are now looking outside of Asia a lot, there's a huge opportunity in the next few years to be real net buyers.” 

The fund is expected to carry a core-plus to value-added-style risk and return strategy, with the firm aiming for IRRs of low-to mid-teen returns from its investments. 
Besides assuming leadership of 85 staff and leading the fundraising effort for Fund III, Benett will also continue to manage PREI’s current flagship fund, Pramerica AsiaRetail Limited, a core-strategy, open-ended fund which contains stabilized shopping malls in Singapore and Malaysia valued at approximately S$3 billion (€1.95 billion; $2.25 million). 
The reorganization means Laughlin’s time in charge of PREI in Asia was about two years. He joined in early 2013 from Grosvenor Fund Management, where he led its Asian investment activities. Before Grosvenor, he worked for UK bank Royal Bank of Scotland in a variety of different roles. Before then, he led the non-Japan Asia investing activities of RREEF, the former Deutsche Bank unit that later formed part of its Deutsche Bank Asset and Wealth Management division. 
Theseira joined PREI in 2011 from Singapore-based private equity real estate firm Pacific Star. Before that, he worked for CapitaLand, the Singapore-based real estate investment firm.
The role for chief investment officer, Eryck Su, does not change with him continuing to seek deals predominantly in China for PREI’s various investment vehicle offerings, from its Hong Kong office.