Under the watch of K. S. “Sonny” Kalsi, Morgan Stanley has become one of the largest players in Asian real estate, with a reach that extends across Japan, India and China.
Kalsi rose to prominence during his eight-year stint in Tokyo, where he built up the firm's real estate presence in Asia and became widely considered as the organization's lynchpin in the region, according to other Asia-focused private equity real estate executives. As head of Morgan Stanley Real Estate in Asia until early 2006, Kalsi was instrumental in building the firm's Asian real estate investing business to $21.5 billion, much of it in Japan.
Under Kalsi's leadership, however, Morgan Stanley has also focused much of its recent efforts on Asia's two emerging superpowers, making key investments in local operating companies in both India and China. Unlike many other private equity real estate firms in India—who have announced commitments to the country, but who have yet to spend any money—Morgan Stanley recently acquired stakes in two local developers, Mantri Developers and Alpha G. The firm has also invested in Shimao Group in Shanghai.
Kalsi's success in Asia has paid off for both his firm and his own career. Several months ago, the 15-year veteran of Morgan Stanley was asked to head up the firm's global property investing business, which is comprised of assets under management totaling $38 billion.