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Asia's Red-hot Reits

The eagerly awaited opening up of mainland China to Reits investment continues to hang fire but the market is hot elsewhere in the region, with retail and institutional investors piling into new issues. Some in the market, though, reckon that investors often have over-inflated expectations of Reits’ returns and a poor grasp of the complexities of the deals. Chris Wright reports.

The only one: Citibank Plaza, Hong Kong is the sole component of the Great Eagle Holdings’ Champion Reit

ASIA’S REAL ESTATE investment trust sector is the regional market story of the moment. It’s got everything that’s needed for a good old-fashioned Asian investment party: booming issuance, property tycoons, retail fervour, epic oversubscription and some questionable financial structuring. There’s just one thing missing: China. That wasn’t the plan. People had talked about the possibilities of Asian Reits for years before the first one appeared in Singapore in July 2002. From the outset the most exciting thing about an Asian Reit market was the idea of getting exposure to Chinese real estate in a neat, regulated, well-structured form. Four years on, Reits have certainly swept the region – when Sun Hung Kai’s Sun Millennium trust lists in Hong Kong this month it will be the fifth from that city in a year, to go with the 10 listed in Singapore and several in Malaysia and Taiwan. However, there is still only one Chinese Reit: GZI Holdings, which raised US$230 million in a Hong Kong listing in December, holding four commercial properties in Guangzhou.

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