Asian real estate still attractive after U.S. rate hike - LaSalle Investment

SHANGHAI/HONG KONG, March 16 (Reuters) - Asian real estate remains attractive due to relatively high yields despite U.S. monetary tightening as the pace of interest rate increases in the region is expected to be slow, an executive at LaSalle Investment Management said on Thursday.

Elysia Tse, LaSalle’s head of research & Strategy, Asia Pacific, identified China as a market with huge business growth potential, and brushed aside concerns over currency fluctuations and Beijing’s capital control policies.

In the Asia Pacific “we’re going to see a slower pace of interest rate increases, if any,” Tse told Reuters, hours after the U.S. Federal Reserve raised short-term rates by 25 basis points in a widely-expected move.

Japan is still fighting persistent deflation, while central banks in some countries such as Australia may raise rates only moderately, and the real estate yield is high enough to cushion the impact, she said.

Tse’s comments might ease fears among some investors that rising interest rates would boost borrowing costs and hit property values. There are also concerns that higher rates in the United States would lure capital away from emerging markets.

LaSalle Investment Management, owned by Jones Lang LaSalle Inc, manages about $58 billion of assets globally, including $7.8 billion in the Asia Pacific.

Regarding China’s property market, Tse downplayed currency risks and regulatory uncertainty, saying LaSalle’s $330 million China business has the potential to match that of Japan, where the company has $5.34 billion of assets under management.

“China is the largest economy in Asia, and very important part of our business. Given enough time, we will grow our business (in China) as large as Japan,” Tse said.

Tse identified China’s logistics real estate as an area representing “attractive” investment opportunities, citing the country’s rapidly expanding e-commerce industry.

“You have a very strong demand, but you have a shortage of modern a supply-demand imbalance in favour of landlords and investors,” she said, adding that such properties in China’s major cities yield 5.75-6.25 percent.

In China’s financial capital Shanghai, top grade office buildings yield around 3.5-4 percent.

Editing by Jacqueline Wong