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Gaw Capital discusses expanding and diversifying

Christina Gaw, managing principal at triple-award winner Gaw Capital, says the firm’s team ethos and regional platform helped it survive and thrive in a rocky year.

This article is sponsored by Gaw Capital

What were the key events for your firm last year?

Christina Gaw

2020 was obviously a very challenging year for asset players globally, but we also felt that it was a year of opportunity, as we successfully explored a number of new real estate sectors. We raised close to $1.3 billion for our first internet data center platform in China.

We worked in partnership with two operators in China to create that platform and brought in major global investors. We expect data centers to be resilient, as we see very strong demand for data processing services as more social and economic activities migrate online. We also continued to build out our logistics platform, which started in 2014, and are growing quite aggressively in the Greater Bay Area in Southern China.

Additionally, we raised $800 million for separate account mandates, one for Asia real estate opportunities and one for education real estate in the region. Our investors are looking for scalable opportunities, so we focus on thematic real estate platforms.

Further, we continued to deploy our flagship Gateway Fund VI, which bought a HK$9.8 billion ($1.2 billion; €1.0 billion) grade A office tower in Hong Kong, and we began work on Gateway Fund VII, which will be a major focus for 2021. The new fund will focus on those platform opportunities, as well as on life sciences real estate in China, where there is a strong focus on healthcare. We often start something in China and then grow it across Asia-Pacific.

How has the operating environment been?

Being unable to travel, to meet people and to see assets was very disruptive. We found that having local offices all around the region and globally – we have 15 offices, 12 of which are in Asia-Pacific – meant we could carry on with deal sourcing and talking to investors. And like everyone, our use of video calls has accelerated remarkably!

How did you overcome the challenges you faced?

Last year’s events were unexpected and of course everybody suffered. That meant we had to stay very flexible in how we dealt with tenants who had difficulties and we needed to keep up our communication with tenants and investors. Having our own in-house asset management team proved very helpful in difficult times, because the information flow and service is more streamlined.

Who or what is mainly responsible for your success?

The most important thing to us is our people. We are proud that we have created a unique culture at Gaw Capital, and we always use three words to define our DNA: passion, responsibility and creativity, which we shorten to PRC.

PRC informs how we recruit, retain and motivate people. We want people who are passionate about their role and who love real estate. Responsibility matters because we are remaking buildings and they are used by people and communities to whom we are responsible.

We also take our ESG responsibilities very seriously. Gaw Capital has done a lot of work on transforming neighborhoods, such as through our People’s Place non-discretionary retail platform in Hong Kong, which manages 29 malls. And creativity is at the heart of our entrepreneurial firm. That creativity has driven Gaw Capital to evolve over the years and taken us into new sectors and technology-driven real estate.