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Manulife IM’s Asia real estate boss to join Hong Kong’s Link REIT

Link REIT has been actively diversifying its portfolio outside Hong Kong including a recent partnership with Oxford Properties in Australia.

Hong Kong’s Link Real Estate Investment Trust has tapped Manulife Investment’s Asia real estate boss to lead its investments, PERE has learned.

Kenny Lam, who is currently senior managing director, Asia chief investment officer and head of Asia transactions at Manulife IM Real Estate, will work in the capacity of co-chief investment officer alongside existing chief investment officer Christine Chan, according to three PERE sources.

In his new role, Lam is understood to be focusing on investments outside of Greater China and leading diversification efforts for the REIT.

While PERE reported last month that Lam will leave Manulife IM in June, further details on Lam joining Link, including his expected start date, were not available at press time.

Link REIT declined to comment on the matter.

Prior to joining Link, Lam spent close to five years leading Asia investments at Manulife IM Real Estate. He joined the Canadian insurer from Hong Kong’s sovereign wealth fund Hong Kong Monetary Authority, where he had acted as chief manager of global real estate direct investment. Prior to that, the real estate veteran held senior roles at Ping An Real Estate and JPMorgan Asset Management.

During his tenure, Lam completed a number of key transactions in Asia on behalf of the firm’s real estate team. These deals included the joint acquisition of a logistics asset with LOGOS and the LOGOS Vietnam Logistics Venture and a commitment to GLP’s $1.1 billion maiden Vietnam Logistics Development Fund.

With a portfolio value of $221 billion, Link REIT has been actively diversifying its portfolio outside Hong Kong. In addition to its existing two office properties at 100 Market Street in Sydney and The Cabot in London, both of which were acquired in 2020, the firm entered into a partnership in February with global real estate investor Oxford Properties, in which the former purchased a 49.9 percent interest in the Investa Gateway Offices venture. The venture consists of five prime office assets in Australia’s core markets of Sydney and Melbourne.

The firm noted that while the uncertainty and turbulence faced by Hong Kong’s economy will put its Hong Kong portfolio under pressure, the income progression generated by its China and overseas segments “have helped Link sustain a growth trajectory,” according to a June 2021 release.

As of September 2021, the REIT had 129 investments in Hong Kong and 14 outside the market, according to the release. While Hong Kong remains the firm’s core market, Link REIT will also target China’s tier-one cities, Australia, Singapore, Japan and the UK, according to its annual report.