Greystar completes final leg of Asia expansion with Japan hire – Exclusive

The firm has appointed former Westbrook Japan senior executive Akira Kosugi to lead its investments in the country.

Greystar Real Estate Partners has established a presence in Japan with the appointment of Akira Kosugi as managing director to oversee the firm’s new Tokyo office and lead its investments in one of Asia’s most established multifamily markets.

Kosugi previously led the Tokyo office of real estate investment manager Westbrook Partners, and has also worked at Blackstone, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Grove International Partners.

“Given his experience and local market knowledge, we have no doubt that Akira is the right person to manage the successful execution of our business plan and establish Greystar as a leader in the market,” said Wes Fuller, executive managing director of investment management at Greystar.

With Kosugi’s hire, Greystar has completed the trio of country head hires it set out to execute when it made its Asia-Pacific debut in 2017. As PERE reported at the time, the Charleston, South Carolina-based firm planned to appoint three managing directors – for Greater China, Australia and Japan – to build its rental housing portfolio. In February 2017, Charles Ma, formerly the head of global strategy, investments and business development at China Vanke, was brought on as Greystar’s China managing director. This was followed by the appointment of Chris Key as the Australia head. Key was previously JLL’s head of corporate finance for Asia-Pacific.

For now, Kosugi is the only Greystar employee in Japan, but over time the firm plans to build a local team like its China and Australia operations. The firm has 25 employees in total across its Asia-Pacific platform, with more than half in China currently.

In terms of investment strategy, Greystar will look to acquire and re-position assets through a core-plus and value-add strategy, with an initial focus on Tokyo and Osaka. Given the scale of opportunities in the market, Fuller noted that the firm would explore both one-off acquisitions as well as portfolio purchases.

In China, meanwhile, the firm has so far pursued more of a development and value-add strategy.

“In China, you have to develop the [multifamily] products, so it is a much more nascent market,” he said. “Japan is a more mature market and you can reach scale faster as a result of standing deals. The rental housing industry in Japan is a high transaction volume, well-established and liquid investment market.”

Capital raising will be done for Japan-specific multifamily ventures, similar to the firm’s China and Australia strategy. This February, it raised $450 million in equity for its first Asia-Pacific fund, a China-focused rental housing fund. Fuller declined to comment on fundraising, but PERE understands the fund has now raised around $550 million in equity against a total target of around $750 million.

Greystar is the majority shareholder in the Greystar Asia-Pac platform with a 70 percent stake. APG Asset Management and Macquarie are minority investors.

As of Q3 2019, the platform had $310.9 million in assets under management.