TEL AVIV Jan 16 Israeli investors are
increasingly looking to invest in U.S. properties as they seek
to diversify their portfolios and as local real estate has grown
A report by real estate services firm Colliers International
with data through mid-2013 ranked Israel as the third-largest
foreign investor in U.S. commercial real estate over the past
three years with a 6 percent share, tied with Switzerland and
behind Canada and Germany.
In the U.S. multifamily market, Israel was also third with
an 11 percent share of sales volume while it was second in
Florida's multifamily market among foreign investors.
Israeli investment in U.S. commercial real estate surpassed
$1 billion in 2012.
"From the demand I've seen and from speaking to Israeli
investors I think that number will go up dramatically," Robert
Ivanhoe, global real estate practice chair at the Greenberg
Traurig law firm, told Reuters during a visit to Israel.
"There appears to be a need for greater diversification and for
finding additional opportunities because Israel is a small
country and domestic investment opportunities are limited."
Foreign investment in U.S. commercial real estate totalled
nearly $27 billion in 2012, according to Colliers.
New York-based Ivanhoe, who represented Israeli billionaire
Yitzhak Tshuva in his purchase of Manhattan's Plaza Hotel in
2004 for $675 million, said he is currently representing
Tshuva's firm Elad in a development joint venture with
Silverstein Properties in New York.
The two partners have acquired a development site on
Manhattan's West End Avenue that will include retail space as
well as condominiums, a project cost estimated at $800 million.
Some Israeli investors are focused on New York while others
feel the city is too expensive and the deal size too large.
Ivanhoe said New York was close to becoming overpriced though he
does not see a bubble forming.
Harel Insurance Investments and Financial Services
, one of Israel's largest insurers, was part of a group
that in April acquired the 51-story IDS Center, the tallest
tower in Minneapolis, for $277 million.
Ivanhoe said three quarters of his focus now is on New York
but from 2000-2008 he spent half his time on transactions in Las
Vegas, a market hit hard by the global financial crisis.
"I think it will come back but someone has to be prepared to
invest and be patient. Its recovery will follow that of the U.S.
economy," Ivanhoe said.
(Reporting by Tova Cohen)