Savills IM poised to enter Chinese property market – Exclusive

The London-based firm is about to start hiring for investment, asset management and research executives to work from an office in Shanghai.

The real estate investment management arm of London-listed property services firm Savills is drawing up plans to make its first inroads in the Chinese market, PERE can reveal.

Savills Investment Management (IM), which currently manages approximately €18 billion of assets, has been in growth mode following its capture last year of SEB Asset Management, the property investment management business of Nordic corporate bank SEB Group.

In addition to essentially doubling its asset base via the takeover, Savills IM’s Asia infrastructure was significantly boosted with a team now extending to 25 staff, as well as offices in Singapore and Hong Kong to add to its existing office in Tokyo.

It is understood that the next stage for the firm in Asia is to open an office in Shanghai within the first half of this year and hire a team able to invest in the market.

Among the professionals the firm is seeking are investment executives, asset managers and researchers.

According to one source familiar with the expansion, Savills IM is aiming to have the office and team fully functioning by the time Chinese property markets stabilize after the current volatility which has seen many institutional investors steer clear. The source added that the firm would be unlikely to make its first capital outlays in the country before 2017.

Any new additions to Savills IM in Asia will report to Jin Guo, Head of Greater China and Craig Pearce, the firm’s Asia head of asset management, who joined last September from Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing.

Choy Soon Chua, who was SEB’s Asia head following the takeover, left the firm earlier this year to lead Singapore-based developer WingTai’s push into real estate investment management. WT Fund Management was launched in February with an initial focus on core, core-plus and value-added investments throughout Asia.