ASIA NEWS: Gearing up in Asia

Greystar Real Estate Partners is laying the groundwork for its debut investment in Asia-Pacific.

The Charleston, South Carolina-based multifamily operator appointed Charles Ma as managing director and head of Greater China for its Asia-Pacific rental housing platform last month. Ma was previously head of global strategy, investments and business development for the Shenzhen-headquartered mainland property developer China Vanke.

News of Greystar’s first senior hire in the region comes four months after the firm announced its entry into Asia with the creation of Greystar Asia-Pac, a 50:50 joint venture platform with Macquarie Capital to establish a presence in the region’s nascent multifamily sector.

Ma is the first among three managing directors that Greystar will recruit in Asia, with each leading operations in one target market. The firm is yet to hire managing directors for Japan and Australia. 

Greystar’s push into Asia will follow a similar strategy as its US business. A spokesperson confirmed to PERE that Greystar Asia-Pac will have three separate divisions for investment management, development and operations, with a goal to create a vertically integrated rental housing operator.

The firm plans to raise institutional capital to acquire, develop, reposition and manage rental residential assets initially in Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, Sydney and Melbourne.

One source familiar with Greystar’s Asia strategy, said the firm will eventually launch dedicated real estate funds in Asia, although it is yet to be determined whether these will be regional or pan-Asia. In the US, Greystar has raised a series of value-add funds, and in January closed on $1.25 billion in equity for Greystar Equity Partners IX, its largest vehicle to date. The firm is also expanding into US core-plus real estate, as PERE reported.

Greystar’s entry into Asia is part of a global expansion strategy. After making its first international investment in the UK in 2013, the firm went on to establish a presence in Latin America with PGIM. Then last October, it made inroads into the Chilean market.

In a Blueprint interview with PERE, chairman and chief executive Bob Faith said it planned to grow globally by exporting its expertise to other markets. Barring Germany and Japan, which have purpose-built rental markets, he said all other sectors continue to remain condo markets where owners buy units and then rent them to tenants.