QIA appoints Asia RE head

The former head of Greater China at Pramerica now heads Asian real estate at the Qatar Investment Authority, which is looking to diversify its investment portfolio geographically.

Jason Chew, the former managing director and head of Greater China at Pramerica Real Estate Investors (PREI), has taken up the title of head of Asian real estate at Qatar Investment Authority, in what media reports claim is an attempt by the $115 billion sovereign wealth fund to diversify its assets outside of Europe.

Chew and QIA declined to comment when approached, but PERE understands that Chew started in his new role just last week. Navid Chamdia, QIA’s current global head of real estate, will focus on the fund’s real estate investments excluding Asia. Chamdia has been with QIA since 2005, and both executives are based in Doha, Qatar.

Chew left PREI this summer after the real estate investment management arm of US financial services giant Prudential Financial closed its Beijing office in order to restructure its China investment strategy. Chew had taken on the greater China role at PREI in 2010.

Chew was also chief investment officer for Asia at PREI before his China role, and first joined the firm in 2007. Prior to that, he held various regional roles at Singapore-based real estate and financial service giant CapitaLand, including a post in the Middle East and country director for Japan, according to Chew’s LinkedIn profile.

Reuters also reported that QIA has made several other hires recently, including veteran Merrill Lynch banker Michael Cho as the head of mergers and acquisitions; ex- Morgan Stanley banker Deven Karnik running a newly-formed infrastructure team; and former strategy head at Deutsche Bank Stefan Frank as QIA’s head of strategy.

Historically, QIA’s investments have been 80 percent weighted toward Europe. However, since the sovereign wealth fund had a new chief executive, Ahmed Al-Sayed, appointed in July, it has been making a greater push into Asia. Just this summer, Indian media reported that QIA invested Rs 1,800 crore (€227 million; $300 million) into Bangalore-based real estate developer RMZ Corp. To date, QIA is estimated to have about 30 percent of its assets allocated to real estate, according to PERE’s Research and Analytics division.