GIC RE founder Seek to be chairman at GLP

The Singapore-listed developer-cum-fund manager of logistics real estate has hired Dr Seek Ngee Huat, the man behind sovereign wealth fund GIC Private’s real estate division, as its next board chairman.

Dr Seek Ngee Huat, one of the most influential figures in private real estate investment, is to become chairman of logistics property development and investment management giant Global Logistic Properties (GLP).

GLP said in an announcement today that Seek was to become chairman of the board with effect from 17 July. He takes over the function following previous incumbent Ang Kong Hua’s decision to retire from the company after that date.

Seek has intimate knowledge of GLP having played an important role in buying the Asian assets of Denver-based logistics firm ProLogis in 2008 in a deal valued at $1.3 billion while president of Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC Private’s real estate division. The assets were later rebranded as Global Logistic Properties and in 2010 the company was floated on the Singapore Stock Exchange with GIC retaining a large stake.

His involvement with the firm continued following the acquisition as he was made a non-executive director. He also was chairman of its investment committee and a member of its human resource and compensation committee.

He is best known, however, for his 15-year leadership of GIC’s real estate division, which ended in 2011 when he handed over his duties to former Tishman Speyer and Ascendas executive Goh Kok Huat. Indeed, such was his impact while at GIC, he was widely accredited for formulating an investment template for the asset class that is now regarded as the inspiration for the strategies of other sovereign wealth funds.

One unnamed general partner told PERE shortly after he handed over the role: “He is highly respected for building the organisation into what it is today, one that most sovereign wealth funds view as the benchmark for a successful model.” One key aspect of Seek’s strategy at GIC Private was to build an operation that was centralized in Singapore but operated from satellite offices around the world.

In his new role, Seek will lead GLP’s board, which effectively is responsible for determining and approving the company’s strategy. He will work closely with long-term colleague and friend, and the co-founder of the company Jeff Schwartz, as well as its other co-founder Ming Mei. Seek’s relationship with Schwartz stems back to the 1990s when the latter was working at ProLogis. Indeed, one of GIC Real Estate’s early outlays was a €150 million check to ProLogis’ European Properties Fund, which at that stage was under the control of Schwartz.

In the announcement, Seek paid his respects to his predecessor. He said: “GLP has come a long way under Mr Ang’s leadership of the board since our IPO. Under his guidance, GLP has strengthened its platform significantly and reinforced its position as the number one modern logistics provider in China, Japan and Brazil.”

Meanwhile, Schwartz said: “Dr Seek, who has many years of experience and familiarity with GLP’s business and team, takes over from Mr Ang at an exciting junction in GLP’s development. Ming (Mei) and I look forward to working closely with him in his new role as we chart our next stage of growth.”