Dr. Seek Ngee Huat likes to keep a low profile. Unfortunately, sometimes he doesn't have much of a choice. As the head of the real estate program at one of the most powerful institutional investors in Asia and beyond, Seek is among the most-watched property investors in the world. His influence extends from his base in Singapore to China, Japan, India and well onto the other side of the globe, with GIC active in both the European and US markets. Earlier this year, the institutional investor announced its expansion into Brazil.
“For many years, he has ably guided the fund's overseas expansion into North Asia and Western Europe and smartly harvested investments in the USA,” says one fund manager who watches Asia closely.
Both Seek's success and his secretiveness come in large part from the institution he works for. GIC, the investment arm of the government of Singapore, has approximately $100 billion under management, though no one outside the organization quite knows for sure. GIC Real Estate, which became an independent entity in 1999, manages approximately 10 percent of the overall portfolio.
Seek, who joined GIC in 1995 from Jones Lang Wooton, has helped turn that portfolio into one of the largest in the world. From its initial real estate investments in 1982, GIC's property holdings have now grown to more than 140 investments spread over 30 countries. And while Seek maintains a low profile, the assets that his firm has acquired—such as the AT&T Corporate Center in Chicago, the Shiodome City Center in Tokyo and the Seoul Finance Center—certainly do not.