ING Real Estate expands to Brazil

The rise of Brazil continues with ING Real Estate Management, one of the world’s largest real estate investment managers, opening an office in São Paulo.

Netherlands-based ING Real Estate has named Florencio Beccar as head of the firm’s new operation in Brazil.

Argentina-born Beccar, who established ING Real Estate Investment Management’s Italian team and led an acquisitions team in Spain, is opening the office in Brazil as the group’s first foothold in Latin America. Marcela Drigo will join Beccar in the São Paulo office as a vice president. A native of Brazil, Drigo comes to ING Real Estate from Capital Trust Inc. where she was responsible for that firm's Brazilian investments. Prior to that, she was with AIG Global Real Estate Investment Corp, and Tishman Speyer Properties in São Paulo.

Robert Houston, the new chief executive of ING’s investment management arm which manages around €72 billion ($103 billion), said in a statement the local presence would “spearhead” activities in the region.

Several real estate investment manager firms have set up in Brazil or invested there recently, including Virgina's JER Partners, New York-based GoldenTree InSite Partners and Och-Ziff Capital Management. Equity International, which was one of the earliest movers into the country, stuck its first industrial deal there in August. Tishman Speyer, the US developer and fund manager, has been raising a fund targeting Brazil.

ING pointed to the country being the world’s tenth largest economy with the fourth largest urban population. It said Brazil’s economy was expected to continue expanding at an average of 4 percent for at least the next five years. The growth has resulted in significant new job formation and a substantial decline in the unemployment rate for the country's major cities, and created a compelling environment for real estate investing, according to ING.
“This step represents a broadening of our global competencies,” said Houston, who took over as chief executive from David Blight a few weeks ago. “We are now present in 22 countries around the world and this is the first step in establishing a foothold in South America.” He added the country offered a number of “unique” opportunities to invest on behalf of clients. “Given the size and complexity of the market, we feel this is best accomplished by establishing our own office there.”

ING has been busy launching a global opportunistic business and has launched new healthcare and infrastructure vehicles. The group sees expansion across the Americas as a way to remain one of the largest global real estate managers.

With a current population of 190 million, including 92 million individuals between 15 and 44 years of age, ING said Brazil was well positioned to benefit from demographic, demand-driven growth for new real estate properties over the next several decades. In addition to São Paulo and Rio, the country has 18 cities with more than a million people. Within these cities, the Brazilian middle class is substantial and growing in both size and wealth, it said.

Office markets in both Rio and São Paulo feature “comparatively attractive vacancy rates and compelling rental growth”.  Significant opportunities also exist in other major property types, including industrial facilities, retail, and housing, said ING. The country is moving aggressively to build on its economic success, with plans for major investments in a range of infrastructure projects including new seaports, railways, highways, and airports.

“We have been analysing the Brazilian market for a while now and believe that the time is right to begin building a presence,” said Beccar.  We will be focusing on the four main real estate 'food groups' of housing, industrial, retail and office which all offer compelling fundamentals.”

ING Real Estate’s São Paulo office will be located within its parent ING Bank's premises and is expected to officially open today with Beccar as managing director. Beccar has most recently been serving as managing director and portfolio manager for the ING Real Estate Southern European Fund, and before that was acquisition manager for the ING Real Estate Iberica Fund. He holds a Master of business administration from the Erasmus University Rotterdam School of Management and an architecture degree from Belgrano University in Buenos Aires.