Townsend opens first Asia office, hires ING’s Wong

The Cleveland- based advisory and investment management firm has continued to strengthen its business by opening an office in Asia, and hiring ex-ING Real Estate Select Asia head, Nicholas Wong

Former ING Real Estate Select Asia head Nicholas Wong has been appointed by Cleveland-based real estate advisory firm, The Townsend Group, to lead its expansion into Asia.

Wong, who starts work on 1 June, has been charged with overseeing Townsend’s business development and investment underwriting in the region.

From a new office in Hong Kong, he will report to his former boss at ING, Nick Cooper, who was approached by Townsend last year to help grow its multi-manager business in Europe and Asia.

The firm, which advises on more than $100 billion in assets globally, has $3.2 billion invested in the region currently but is keen to grow organically and Wong told PERE he expects to add two-three staff to the office by the end of the year

Wong said of the switch to Townsend: “They don’t have anyone in Asia and they want to open an office in Hong Kong so it was quite natural for me. It was a very easy decision.”

“This is Townsend’s first office and I am their first employee in Asia but, globally, Townsend has a lot of fire power and represent a lot of pension funds. We do have a lot of money to invest over the next couple of years.”

In an announcement on the hire, Cooper said: “We’re confident that the Asia Pacific region contains some of the most opportunistic real estate investments in the world. Nick’s ability to identify and underwrite investments in the Asia region will undoubtedly result in value-add to our clients’ portfolios.”

Wong departed ING Real Estate Select at the end of April following the start of a restructuring process that included the consolidation of offices in the region to its office in Singapore. Like, Cooper, he was unwilling to relocate for personal reasons. He joined ING in November 2007.