A real estate company in Shanghai. (Photo/Xinhua)
For Stephen Schwarzman, founder and CEO of Blackstone, the world's largest private equity fund, Asia, China, and realty are the investment focuses of the fund at present.
Two weeks ago, Blackstone just completed raising US$13.3 billion for the global realty fund BREP VII, the largest realty fund ever. As of the third quarter this year, the market value of stocks under the management of Blackstone's realty department already exceeded US$50 billion.
Schwqarzman points out that after raising the US$13.3 billion global realty fund, Blackstone plans to start investing in the realty market in Asia, including China. In fact, the company is purchasing a commercial building in Shanghai.
In the past two years, Blackstone has repeatedly invested in the Asian realty market. In 2010, Blackstone took over US$2 billion worth of assets from the Asian realty fund, under the auspices of Merrill Lynch. This year, it purchased a realty asset in Singapore and a warehouse in Osaka from German investment funds SEK and Invesco, respectively.
Liang Jinsong, chairman of the Greater China region for Blackstone, remarks that "The estimated value of Chinese realty assets is increasingly attractive." He notes that Blackstone will be even more aggressive in realty investment in China in the future. Liang reveals that Blackstone is raising the first renminbi fund. In 2009, the company signed a memorandum of understanding for financial cooperation with Pudong government, according to which Blackstone will raise a renminbi fund at 5 billion yuan (US$800 million) for investments in Pudong and peripheral areas of Shanghai. It targets raising the fund by the end of this year, according to Liang.
Schwarzman believes that it is a good timing for investing in Asia at present, since the Chinese economy has hit the bottom and may rebound in the next two to three years. To realize the strategy, Blackstone has increased its Asian staffers by one third over the past two years. He notes that so far Blackstone has become the largest realty buyer in Australia and India and will begin to step up investments in the Chinese market.