From LA to Tokyo

Los Angeles-based firm CB Richard Ellis Investors is hoping Mark Karlan has what it takes for Asian real estate.

Mark Karlan may not be an expert on Asia, but he knows real estate. Entering the real estate world in the mid-80s with Bachelor of Arts, Masters of Business Administration and Juris Doctor degrees from Harvard, Karlan has had a remarkable career since then. In 1987, he became the youngest partner at JB Realty Corporation, and soon thereafter he led the 100-person JMB acquisition team during the $5 billion (€3.9 billion) leveraged acquisition of the Cadillac Fairview real estate company.

In 1997 Karlan founded the Imperial Credit Commercial Mortgage Investment Corporation, a publicly traded REIT that invests in commercial real estate and commercial property loans. During his 22 years in the commercial real estate business he has acquired more than 100 properties with a gross asset value exceeding $7 billion.

Now Richard Ellis is hoping that Karlan can bring that same success to its Asian investments. The firm has hired Karlan as executive managing director for their investment strategies in Asia.

CBRE, like many other opportunistic real estate investors, is analyzing the economic and demographic trends across Asia to develop the best strategy for investment. The firm points out that trends vary substantially across the area, providing diversification advantages not available in any other region of the world.

“Asia has dynamic and complex real estate markets offering unique investment and diversification opportunities,” said Robert Zerbst, president of CBRE investors. “Mark's experience in commercial real estate investments and capital markets will prove a tremendous asset as we move forward with our investment strategies in the region.”

Zerbst added that China and Japan, in particular, represent unique opportunities. In China, he said, the rapidly growing economy is generating tremendous demand for quality commercial and residential real estate, presenting investors with the opportunity to participate through acquisition, development or joint ventures. In Japan, the recovering economy is generating significant demand for housing development and the office market is resurgent.

Karlan has already traveled to Hong Kong to begin research in the area. He will be permanently based in Los Angeles.

In December 2005, CBRE closed its fourth opportunistic vehicle, Richard Ellis, on $1.2 billion.