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Apollo sets up Asia-focused realty PE platform, names Nipun Sahni as India head

Global alternative investment firm Apollo Global Management LLC is setting up an Asia-focused real estate private equity platform and has appointed Nipun Sahni, founder and chief executive officer of realty advisory firm Rezone, as partner and India head, according to a report by Business Standard citing the executive himself.

"Asia is a growing market for real estate capital. We would like to get our investors to participate in the right strategies in Asia," the report quoted Sahni.

The platform will set up offices in Shanghai, Hong Kong and New Delhi among other cities in Asia. It will have an investment focus on China and India.

Attempts to reach out to Sahni to gather more on his role and the platform did not elicit any response till the time of filing this report.

Sahni joins the platform along with other team members at Rezone. Rezone was founded by Sahni in 2012, after the Asia real estate portfolio of Bank of America Merrill Lynch (his former employer) was bought by Blackstone. Rezone works as a real estate advisory firm and has Arpito Mukerji (partner) and KK Raman (partner) as its key members.

The platform has also roped in Philip Mintz, founder of Venator Real Estate Capital Partners, to head its Asia real estate business. “Apollo has absorbed $500 million assets under management of Venator, which was a China dedicated fund,” the report said.

The fundraising plans of the company for Asia are not clear as of now.

As of December 31, 2014, Apollo’s real estate group had assets under management of approximately $10 billion spanning across funds, strategic accounts and Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance, a publicly-traded commercial mortgage real estate investment trust.

This development comes amid growing investor interest for India on the back of positive announcements by the Modi-led government. Investors, who had put India off their radar, are re-looking at it with a renewed interest. Real estate in particular has gained a lot of attention of late with global investors putting in money either directly or through joint ventures.

As reported by VCCircle, Morgan Stanley is expected to deploy as much as $250 million in India from its latest global fund. Recently, Nitesh Estates collaborated with Goldman Sachs to jointly invest $250 million in the commercial realty space. Goldman has also sealed two joint venture agreements with North-based real estate developer Vatika Group for residential projects.

The developer also recently attracted Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC for investment of $40 million for its hospitality arm. GIC has been aggressive in sealing deals in commercial space and has increased its exposure in Mumbai IT park firm Nirlon Ltd to 63.92 per cent for Rs 568 crore.

In fact, capital flow in Indian real estate has moved up significantly to a bit over $500 million in the first quarter of 2015 against around $100 million in the same period a year ago, according to VCCedge, the research platform of VCCircle

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