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Real Estate: A Powerful Sovereign Wealth Fund Investment Trend

In September this year, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, in one giant swoop paid US$ 1.5 billion for minority interests in two Boston properties and the former Citigroup Center in Manhattan. The amount of capital floating en route for core real estate is astonishing, more and more sovereign funds are allocating toward properties. In fact, for public institutional investors, real estate is one of the top sectors of direct investment.

The Growth of Direct Sovereign Wealth Fund Transactions

sovereign wealth fund deals
Source: Sovereign Wealth Fund Transaction Database – Data in Billion USD

Real Estate Figures: Sovereign Wealth Fund Transaction Database Data

According to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Transaction Database, comparing the period of September 30, 2014 going back 12 months, total direct public investor transactions in real estate were US$ 36 billion compared to US$ 23.22 billion for transactions starting at September 30, 2013 going back 12 months. Limiting the database universe to sovereign wealth fund direct transactions exclusively, by comparing figures in similar periods, the figures are US$ 29.11 billion for 2014 versus US$ 21.15 billion for 2013. Currently, with regard to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Transaction Database, sovereign wealth funds make up the majority of transactions, thus the number of total public institutional investor transactions in properties should be much higher.

Looming 2014 Sovereign Wealth Fund Trends in Real Estate

    1. More Joint Ventures, Finding Local Partners
    2. Tax Issues, Large Minority Interests
    3. Other Key Cities, Besides Gateway Cities
    4. Luxury and Hotel Properties
    5. Indian Real Estate (Modi)

A resilient second wave of Asian institutional capital is bypassing London, flooding bits of continental Europe. In addition, Gulf sovereign wealth funds such as the Kuwait Investment Authority, Qatar Investment Authority and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority have been active investors in continental Europe. This year, Constellation Hotel Holdings, controlled by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), agreed to pay €330 million for the InterContinental Paris – Le Grand and allocated €60 million for future hotel renovations. This can also be said of the large Canadian pension investors like the CPPIB and OMERS.

Another Bubble?

Sovereign wealth funds and pensions are at risk of a supply drought in core properties. With higher real estate fund commitments and deployment amounts, an unprecedented level of demand is being created by large public institutional investors. This trend could be exacerbated if U.S. defined contribution retirement accounts make the push into real estate assets.

UNICEF and NBIM to Host Meetings on Children’s Human Rights

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), a United Nations programme headquartered in New York City, has partnered with Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) to facilitate a series of meetings between companies to discuss issues surrounding children’s human rights.

According to the news release, “the network will facilitate dialogue between leading brands and retailers in the garment and footwear industry to strengthen children’s rights.”

NBIM is invested in many listed companies and have invited them to join a network to tackle these issues. Over the next two years, the organizations plan to hold three workshops as well as quarterly meetings surrounding these issues.

“Over time, we hope and expect that the network will contribute to improved market practices among companies and greater respect for children’s rights,” says Carine Smith Ihenacho, Global Head of Ownership Strategies, in a NBIM press release.

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SouthGobi’s CEO Arrested, CIC Struggles with Investment

The China Investment Corporation (CIC) has long struggled with its investments in coal assets, specifically in globally-listed coal miner SouthGobi Resources Ltd, which operates its flagship coal mine in Mongolia. In November 2009, CIC and SouthGobi Resources inked a convertible debenture deal. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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Qatar Central Bank Deals with MSCI

MSCI, a stock index company whose benchmarks influence investor behavior, has tremendous indirect power impacting the stock markets of smaller economies. In 1988, MSCI released its emerging markets index, a now-widely-used benchmark for many institutional investors wanting access to growth markets. China and South Korea make up the majority of the benchmark, but smaller economies such as Poland, Chile and even Qatar make up other pieces of it.

[ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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