Hines further expands into Southeast Asia with Vietnam office

The new office puts Hines on track to grow its Asia-Pacific business to equal the size of the US and Europe platforms by 2030.

Hines is expanding its footprint in Asia Pacific with the opening of an office in Vietnam, its 10th office in the region, PERE has learned.

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The former Gaw director will lead the firm’s acquisition and development activities in the country.

Located in Ho Chi Minh City, the new office will be led by the newly appointed Hines director Anh Hao Le. In his role, Le will source new acquisitions and development opportunities in the country. He will work closely with Hines’ Singapore-based head of Southeast Asia, Kian Fong Lim.

Bringing more than 18 years of industry experience, Le was most recently head of investment at Vietnamese property group Sunny World Investment & Development. Before that, he was a senior director at Hong Kong-headquartered Gaw Capital Partners, leading the firm’s investments in Vietnam. He also previously held investment roles at JLL and VinaCapital Real Estate.

Ray Lawler, chief executive officer at Hines Asia Pacific, told PERE that “the timing is just right for many reasons” for the firm to open its office in Vietnam.

“Vietnam was something that we looked at during the last four years or so, and Hines had thought about. But in order for us to play it out, we wanted to be established in the gateway cities first,” Lawler explained. The firm opened its office in Singapore in 2020 and hired Lim, formerly a PAG director, last year to lead its Southeast Asia growth.

Lawler believes the Vietnam market has strong manufacturing demand benefiting from the “China plus one” story, where foreign investors complement their China operations with additional production facilities in the Southeast Asian country. For example, Apple is in the process of relocating the manufacturing of its Apple Watch and Mac products from China to Vietnam as part of its diversification plan.

The timing was also right from a capital markets perspective, as the capital now entering the country has become more institutionalized, according to Lim. “Investors going into the country have evolved from regional developers taking positions on balance sheet to institutionalized investors going in thematically,” he noted. He pointed out that many institutional investors have been particularly interested in industrial developments in the country for the past few years.

While being sector agnostic, Hines sees particularly attractive opportunities in logistics development, as well as value-add investment or development of trophy offices in the country. The firm will also consider partnering strategically with the right occupier for build-to-suit projects, according to Lawler. Hines expects to make its first investment in Vietnam next year, he said.

The opening of its Vietnam office marks Hines’ next step in its ambitious growth plans in Asia Pacific. The Ho Chi Minh City office represents the firm’s sixth country launch in Asia Pacific and second office in Southeast Asia. Hines opened its first regional office in China in 1996 and established its Hong Kong regional headquarters in 2019 to grow its business outside of China and Australia.

“The Hines APAC Team have a 2030 vision of what Hines Asia Pacific should look like. We endeavor to be about a third of what the firm is doing by then, and we think that is achievable based on our progress so far,” said Lawler.

Under the leadership of Lawler, the firm has tripled its assets under management in Asia Pacific from $2 billion in 2018 to $6 billion in 2022. Currently, China, Australia and the combined markets of Japan and South Korea each represent approximately one-third of Hines’ portfolio in the region, with a small exposure to Singapore. Meanwhile, the firm has also grown its APAC headcount from 154 in 2018 to 222 in 2022 and is forecasted to take its team size to more than 275 in 2023.