GLP-backed CMC bolsters real estate business with new hire

Currently, the Chinese firm manages three real estate funds with allocations to the Greater China area, Australia and the US.

GLP-backed China Merchants Capital, the fund management affiliate of the trillion-dollar state-owned conglomerate China Merchants Group, has hired former Link REIT executive Ricky Zhang as managing director – real assets as part of a bigger plan to grow its fund management business.

Zhang will be tasked with formulating and executing thematic investment strategies in the real estate and infrastructure sectors. He will focus on niche sectors such as logistics, cold chain, life sciences and digital assets. Based in Hong Kong, he will work closely with CMC’s private equity professionals across its three offices in Beijing, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Zhang will report directly to the firm’s chief investment officer Simon Chen.

Prior to joining CMC, Zhang spent seven years as general manager of investment, Asia at Hong Kong real estate investment trust manager Link REIT. During his tenure at Link, he led the effort to build the firm’s 30 billion yuan ($4.7 billion; €4.1 billion) China portfolio of core and value-add strategies. He also played a key role in Link’s foray into the logistics sector by establishing a partnership with developer First Priority Group in the Greater Bay Area.

In a note shared exclusively with PERE, Chen noted that Zhang’s hire will help to grow CMC’s real estate footprint and bring more fund products to its investors. Currently, the firm is managing three real estate funds with allocations to the Greater China area, Australia and the US. One of the firm’s real estate investments was its A$350 million ($257 million; €226 million) logistics mandate in Australia with ESR in 2019.

“With a dedicated team and combined experience and resources from the GLP and China Merchants Group partnership, we believe CMC possesses a distinct competitive advantage to build, acquire and scale high-quality real assets and create value for our stakeholders,” Chen said.

Founded in 2012, China Merchants Capital managed around 280 billion yuan of assets across infrastructure, real estate and private equity as of year-end 2020. Since its founding, it has established 62 private equity, venture capital and real estate funds with more than 160 investors. The firm has not provided details on its existing fund products.

Last year, logistics powerhouse GLP acquired a 50 percent stake in CMC. Following the acquisition, GLP and China Merchants Group have co-managed CMC’s existing portfolios. CMC focuses on the day-to-day operations while GLP oversees the formation of new funds and key investment decisions, according to the deal announcement by GLP last year. GLP’s global presence will help CMC to strengthen its ability to raise capital from global investors and operate in domestic and overseas markets.

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