Greystar prepares for Asia expansion – Exclusive

Charles Ma from China Vanke is the first of several appointments to be made by the US multifamily operator as it builds a rental housing strategy across Asia.

Greystar Real Estate Partners has hired its first senior executive in Asia for its newly-established rental housing platform in the region.

The firm has confirmed to PERE that Charles Ma has been appointed as a managing director and head of Greater China for Greystar Asia-Pac, the 50:50 joint venture platform with Macquarie Capital that marked the Charleston, South Carolina-based firm’s entry into the Asia Pacific multifamily sector last October.

Ma is understood to be leaving his current role as the head of global strategy, investments and business development for China Vanke, a leading residential developer headquartered in Shenzhen, at the end of this month. At Vanke, Ma has been responsible for leading the developer’s core businesses, identifying new investment opportunities as well as building its overseas businesses.

Ma is the first among three managing directors that Greystar plans to recruit for its Asia strategy, with each executive focusing on one market. The other two will be appointed to lead operations in Japan and Australia. All three will be reporting to Wes Fuller, the London-based executive managing director responsible for Greystar’s investment management business.

Through the venture, Greystar plans to raise institutional capital to acquire, develop, reposition and manage rental residential assets initially in the cities of Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, Sydney and Melbourne.

According to one source familiar with the strategy, Greystar will essentially be replicating its US strategy in Asia of becoming a vertically integrated rental housing operator. To that effect, the firm plans to eventually build three divisions, namely an investment management platform, a development platform, and an operational platform, in the three target markets. Greystar has confirmed these details.

Greystar’s expansion into Asia comes three years after the firm made its first overseas investments in Europe and Latin America. It also comes at a time when the Asian multifamily sector is in its nascent stage of growth, with the exception of the Japanese market.

Greystar manages over $14 billion in assets globally.