After focusing on the UK, Germany and the Nordic region in 2011, Henderson Global Investors is looking to expand into new geographies beginning in 2012. Andrew Friend, director of institutional business, said the London-based property investment firm sees the US and Asia as “big growth areas for 2012. There’s still interest in the UK,” he added, “but it’ll be falling as a percentage.”
Indeed, with roughly half of Henderson’s investments currently in the UK, the percentage can only go down. In turn, with US and Asia deals each comprising only about 11 percent of the firm’s investments in 2011, those regions really can only go up. Meanwhile, Henderson’s interest in continental Europe will remain roughly the same at approximately 30 percent of its investments, although Friend noted that there may be a slight shift in which countries it focuses upon.
In addition to seeing continued investor interest in Germany and France, Henderson has noted that some investors have begun to express an interest in assets in Spain and Italy, Friend said. While European and US pension funds find these regions too risky for the time being, some Asian and Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds are dipping their toes in Spanish and Italian waters because they see the potential for opportunities, he explained. “As opportunities arise there, we expect to take advantage,” he added.
Furthermore, although Henderson has yet to establish a presence there, Poland is picking up some interest, particularly in the retail sector. With 10 to 15 key cities in the country that have “held up well” economically, Poland has seen the opening of several big shopping centres, which makes it well-positioned to see increased investor interest in the next couple of years. “The landscape’s changed considerably over the past 10 years,” Friend said. “It’s quite an interesting mix.”
As PERE reported in September, Henderson, which manages £12.4 billion ($19.2 billion; €14.2 billion) of real estate in the US, Europe and Asia, promoted Friend to head up its UK distribution team, giving him the title of director of institutional business, a new position at the firm. He reports directly to Tim Horrocks, head of distribution for Henderson’s entire property business. A spokeswoman for Henderson said the strategy behind Friend’s appointment was to drive future growth into both existing and less-explored markets.