Japan logistics real estate mkt to triple--LaSalle

TOKYO, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Japan’s market for investment in logistics real estate -- such as warehouses, distribution centres and ports -- is seen growing threefold within a few years as more players enter a sector considered stable even in an economic slowdown, an executive of LaSalle Investment Management said.

The real estate securitisation investment market was about 320 billion yen ($2.91 billion) in 2007, accounting for only 3.8 percent of Japan’s total REIT (real estate investment trust) investment.

But LaSalle, which manages $54 billion assets in global real estate markets, sees such logistics-area investment accounting for more than 10 percent of total J-REIT investment in the near future, executive officer Yosuke Yoshikawa told a Tokyo seminar.

“Logistics property investment is still immature here for reasons such as a dearth of investment opportunities and limited information disclosure ... maybe that’s why only one J-REIT is solely focusing on the logistics field,” Yoshikawa said.

“But considering its big and established presence in Europe, especially in Britain, and the relative strength of the economic slowdown, logistics real estate investment has a big growth potential,” he said.

After raising 360 billion yen, the Tokyo-based investor launched “LaSalle Japan Logistics Fund Two” last year.

LaSalle still has some 280 billion yen left to invest until 2010 after spending 80 billion yen since the fund’s launch, an another executive told Reuters after the seminar.

A planned investment would include development of multi-purpose logistics centres and “off-balance-sheet” support for logistics companies.

LaSalle is a unit of Chicago-based property services company Jones Lang LaSalle Group JLL.N, which manages property investments of institutional investors such as pension funds and companies.

Tokyo-based LaSalle bought out an asset management company in 2007 and injected fresh capital into a REIT that has since been renamed LaSalle Japan REIT Inc 8974.T.

LaSalle Japan REIT closed down 12.3 percent at 191,200 yen on Wednesday, while the Tokyo Stock Exchange's REIT index .TREIT shed 0.3 percent to 1,269.54. ($1=109.87 Yen) (Reporting by Mariko Katsumura)