LaSalle seeks property developments in Australia

SYDNEY: LaSalle Investment Management is seeking local partners to invest in Australian property developments and boost returns for its US$3 billion (RM10.32 billion) opportunity fund, a top executive said on Feb 9.

LaSalle Investment Management, investment arm of real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle, is also chasing after distressed assets in Japan and has two deals in the pipeline, said Ian Mackie, LaSalle's Asia Pacific chief investment officer.

"In some countries such as Japan at the moment, we can buy standing assets and make the sort of returns appealing to an opportunity fund," Mackie told reporters.

"We would expect to go further out on a risk curve in Australia and become involved in development projects."

Mackie said it was looking to jointly invest with Australian developers.

The Australian Financial Review reported this month that LaSalle was in talks to back the development of the A$800 million (RM2.08 billion) tower in Sydney, being undertaken by private group Grocon. Mackie declined to comment on the news report.

Property sales fell to A$7.2 billion in 2009 from A$9.7 billion the year before, according to research firm CBRE.

Tight credit made it hard to fund transactions but massive capital raisings by listed property trusts also helped curb distressed assets flooding the Australian market.

LaSalle has raised a US$3 billion opportunity fund, US$1 billion of which has already been deployed.

In Australia, LaSalle holds only two assets, worth about US$700 million, through its core fund, which only invests in existing buildings and seeks lower and stable returns.

In Japan, LaSalle is working on two deals: a large office building deal expected to close in a couple of weeks and a resort project which came from a distressed development group, Mackie said. -- Reuters

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