CapitaLand Sets Up First Onshore RMB Fund, Buys Shanghai Building

CapitaLand Sets Up First Onshore RMB Fund, Buys Shanghai Building

Capital Square Shanghai

Capital Square in Jing An is one of the potential candidates for the acquisition

CapitaLand Investment (CLI) said Wednesday it has set up its first onshore renminbi fund in China with the vehicle acquiring an office building in Shanghai.

CLI holds a 12% stake in the RMB 700 million (S$144 million) fund, in partnership with a domestic asset management company, the firm said in a statement, with earlier documents from the company indicating that the partner is PICC Capital Insurance Asset Management Co Ltd – an asset management subsidiary of China’s largest non-life insurer the People’s Insurance Company (Group) of China Limited (PICC Group).

The Shanghai commercial building is being acquired “at an attractive price”, and the transaction is expected to be completed next month the Singapore-based firm said.

“The office building is a well-located property in Shanghai with a committed occupancy of above 90%. It is a special situation opportunity that allows us to acquire the quality asset at an attractive price,” said Puah Tze Shyang, chief executive of CapitaLand Investment China, in an email response to Mingtiandi. He declined to provide more information about the property due to confidentiality clauses.

The fund, which is a single-asset fund according to Puah, is buying the property at a time when office demand in Shanghai is at a historical low as businesses struggle to reopen after a two-month Covid lockdown. Before China’s commercial capital was shut down for two months, net take-up was down 28 percent in the first quarter from the preceding three months, according to data from Savills.

Jing’An Asset in Focus

The market downturn has also made available more discounted office opportunities as heavily-indebted developers dispose of assets to repay maturities.

Puah Tze Shyang of CapitaLand China

Puah Tze Shyang of CapitaLand China

“We are seeing more special situation opportunities in China, where owners who are facing financial challenges are putting up their high-quality assets for sale. At the same time, domestic capital partners in China are looking for reliable partners for investments, and CLI is able to play this bridging role given our extensive local expertise and understanding of the market,” Puah said via email.

CapitaLand and PICC had signed a strategic partnership agreement last September, under which they vowed to cooperate in project investment and private funds in the areas of “new infrastructure” and commercial properties in core cities, according to the press release.

Simon Treacy, CEO of private equity real estate at CapitaLand Investment

Simon Treacy, CEO of private equity real estate at CapitaLand Investment (Source: CapitaLand)

Such projects will include industrial parks, industrial and logistics properties, data centers, office buildings, shopping centers and mixed-use developments, CapitaLand China said.

“We are increasing our fundraising channels by tapping on China’s domestic capital, which we believe represents a deep pool of investable capital that enables CLI to further build on its experience and track record in the country,” Simon Treacy, chief executive of Private Equity Real Estate, Real Asset at CLI, said in Wednesday’s statement.

CLI plans to launch more RMB funds and work with its partners to capture investment opportunities in China, Treacy added.

As of the end of March, CLI has a portfolio of more than 200 properties across over 40 Chinese cities, with total assets under management of S$46 billion in China.

New Economy Assets

CapitaLand Ltd, which is controlled by Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings, restructured its business last year after it posted its biggest loss ever in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

CapitaLand’s revamped real estate investment management business became CLI – Asia’s largest real estate investment management firm which was listed on the Singapore Exchange. Its real estate development business was taken private to free the listed company from the capital demands of building new projects.

As part of the group’s restructuring, it has taken aim at “new economy” assets and has been selling some of its ageing commercial properties.

CapitaLand last June sold partial stakes in six of the nine mixed-use Raffles City developments in China to mainland insurance giant Ping An for more than S$2 billion ($1.5 billion). The group then declared in November 2020 that it would more than triple its holdings in “new economy” areas to over $1.1 billion during the next few years.

Also in line with that strategy, the group has invested in nine industrial parks and one data centre on the mainland, according to the statement from CapitaLand China.

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