Kevin Fitzpatrick: AIG builds on its Brics and mortar
AIG Global Real Estate is one of the largest and most prolific investors in emerging markets. Now that Brazil, Russia, India and China are the focus of almost every big investor and developer, the US-based firm is far ahead of the pack. The group’s president, Kevin Fitzpatrick, speaks to Rachel Wolcott about AIG’s history in emerging markets and why enthusiasm for these markets might be overdone.
Investing in emerging markets is the latest vogue among those seeking to piggy-back on the success of some of the world’s most vibrant economies. However, it is nothing new to AIG Global Real Estate. While many investors and developers talk big about Brazil, Russia, India and China, the so-called Bric markets, AIG’s real estate arm is already on the ground in Moscow, Mumbai, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Worldwide, AIG Global Real Estate has 500 professionals searching out opportunities.
Emerging markets are at the heart of AIG’s heritage. The US insurer started out in China when in 1919 its founder, Cornelius Vander Starr, opened an insurance company in Shanghai. From there, AIG expanded into other parts of Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. So AIG is not a US or a western company that went overseas to become international but one with a global focus at the core of how it operates. As an insurer, AIG has always been huge in emerging markets, and that tradition is apparent in its real estate group.
"AIG has invested in real estate from the beginning," says Kevin Fitzpatrick, AIG Global Real Estate’s president.