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Funds eye property in Tokyo

By Bloomberg | China Daily | Updated: 2015-04-02 08:05

Global wealth funds are moving to buy more Tokyo properties to take advantage of rising prices in the Japanese capital, one of the highest-ranking officials at the land ministry said.

"Long-term pension funds in the US and Europe, particularly in Scandinavia, are looking to lift their positions" in Japanese real estate, Kisaburo Ishii, a deputy minister at the ministry, said on Monday.

Norway's $870 billion wealth fund is preparing to purchase properties in Tokyo after scouring Asia for investment opportunities, Karsten Kallevig, head of real estate investments at the Oslo-based fund, said on March 20. Commercial property prices in Tokyo rose 2.9 percent last year, after a 2.3 percent gain in 2013, as foreign investors, including Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, GIC Pte, snapped up assets.

For large pension funds, "there is quite a lot of movement to make up for the shortfall" of Japanese real estate in global portfolios, Ishii said.

Land prices in Japan's three largest metropolitan areas gained for a second consecutive year as stimulus from the Bank of Japan pushed domestic borrowing costs to a record low and investors globally chase higher-yielding assets.

GIC paid $1.7 billion for a building in the business district, next to the Tokyo Station, in October. Blackstone Group LP agreed in November to buy GE Japan Corp's residential-property business for more than 190 billion yen ($1.6 billion).

"For developers in London, the idea of bringing in money from the Continent, be it France, Germany, or from the Middle East, is there at the very beginning," said Ishii. "In Japan, the mindset has been to move money around locally."

The first MIPIM Japan real estate conference to be held in Tokyo on May 20 and 21 has drawn possible participants from 20 countries. Ishii attended the MIPIM conference in Cannes, France, last month, a gathering of the world's biggest property investors.

"You've got a resurgence of European and North American life insurance companies, who are saying Japan has got to get back on our investment list," said Christian Mancini, chief executive officer of North East Asia at Savills Plc, a property services company. "There is no shortage of interested capital."


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