By 06 January, 2009

Singapore's property fund manager ARA Asset Management(partly owned by Hong Kong business tycoon Li Ka-Shing who earlier sold his stake in Indian telecom major Hutchison Essar to Vodafone in a multi billion dollar deal) plans to launch country-focused funds for China, India and Japan. The idea is to profit from declining real estate prices which is expects will bottom later this year, providing an upside for profit, Reuters reports.

Indian (and Asian) property prices have fallen sharply since the middle of last year, and listed developers like Unitech and DLF have seen serious funds crunch.

ARA Group CEO John Lim has said that ARA hoped to launch country-specific closed-end funds to invest in China, India and Japan and the firm hoped to raise a minimum of $500 million for each fund.

ARA's business comprises of Real Estate Investment Trusts(Fortune REIT, Suntec REIT, Prosperity REIT, AmFIRST REIT), Private Real Estate Funds(ARA Asia Dragon Fund, AIFEREF, CCP Fund and co-operation agreement with Merrill Lynch), Specialist Equity Funds( ARA Asian Asset Income Fund) besides Corporate Finance Advisory Services.

Its flagship Asia Dragon Fund, which has more than $1 billion available for new investment, yesterday bought a 51-storey office-cum-retail building in Nanjing, China, for about $233 million.

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