PGIM hires former CBRE IM executive to grow China business

The firm has ventured into the country’s logistics sector by acquiring three properties for $240 million.

Matthew Yao
Matthew Yao

PGIM Real Estate is planning to increase its exposure to Chinese real estate with the creation of a country head role.

The Newark, New Jersey-headquartered manager has hired Matthew Yao as its first head of China. He will be responsible for the overall strategy and deployment from PGIM’s three pan-Asian investment funds in China. He will also focus on building local co-investment partnerships and domestic funds to expand the firm’s investment activity in the country. Currently, PGIM can invest in China with capital from its Asia Pacific Value-Add Fund IV, its Asia core-plus fund and PGIM Real Estate Asia Core.

Yao will work in the firm’s Hong Kong and Shanghai offices, where he will lead a team of five investment professionals. Starting on November 1, he will report directly to Benett Theseira, PGIM Real Estate’s managing director and head of Asia-Pacific.

Yao joins from CBRE Investment Management, where he spent eight years leading the Los Angeles-based firm’s investment activities in China as a managing director and country head. During his tenure, Yao headed CBRE IM’s logistics-focused investment strategy in China and managed a variety of vehicles, including the firm’s first yuan-denominated vehicle, CBRE LOGOS China Logistics Club Fund, in 2020. He also played a key role in establishing the partnership between CBRE IM and logistics specialist LOGOS.

In a note shared exclusively with PERE, Theseira said the hire is “an additional step in the progressive expansion” of the firm’s on-ground team in China, in line with its rising investment activity. In particular, the US firm will aim to grow its pool of investment opportunities through joint venture partnerships, strengthening domestic capital relationships and developing future investment vehicles in the country.

“Matthew’s domestic expertise and relationships will complement our existing team in Shanghai, accelerating our ability to access growth opportunities and scale up our business in China for the benefit of our global client base,” Theseira said.

Prior to Yao’s hiring, the firm’s real estate investments in China were led by Tai Ying Loong, executive director and head of China transactions, and were supported by transactions and asset management teams in Singapore.

The $201 billion manager has invested in China since 1999 across major asset classes such as residential, office and retail. This year it also made its entrance into the country’s logistics sector by completing a $240 million transaction for three logistics properties in the cities of Nanjing, Shanghai and Langfang.