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JLL sees Asia as safe haven amid sub-prime debris

Region could benefit as investors reallocate funds from US, Europe

(LONDON) Asia provides a ‘safe haven’ for property investors as returns decline on US and European assets because of sub-prime mortgage losses, said commercial real estate broker Jones Lang LaSalle.

‘The region could be a beneficiary of the fallout as investors reallocate funds from the US and Europe towards Asia-Pacific in search of higher growth opportunities on a risk-adjusted basis,’ Jane Murray, Asia-Pacific head of research at Jones Lang LaSalle, said yesterday in a report.

The world’s biggest banks and securities firms wrote down US$45 billion of assets this year and cut 10,000 jobs because of the collapse of the market for mortgages made to borrowers with poor credit.

Commercial real estate transactions fell in the UK and the US after defaults on subprime pushed up borrowing costs, creating turmoil in financial markets.

Global direct real estate investment in Asia gained 14 per cent to US$54 billion in the first half of the year, compared with the year-earlier period, Jones Lang LaSalle said. Asian deals are about a third of the volumes in the Americas or Europe.

‘Although regional investment volumes are still a comparatively low proportion of global direct property investment, interest levels are very high and we foresee the continuation of rapid growth in volumes,’ said Ms Murray.

Japan remained the dominant market in Asia for international investors in the first half, accounting for more than half of investment in the region, the broker said.

Capital values gained 8.7 per cent in Japan during the quarter to 3.96 million yen (S$52,075) per square metre.

Goldman Sachs Group bought the building that houses Tiffany & Co’s flagship store in Tokyo in August for 37 billion yen, or about 54.45 million yen per square metre, the highest price paid since the burst of the bubble economy in the early 1990s, according to Jones Lang LaSalle.

Average monthly rents for grade A office buildings advanced 3 per cent from the second quarter to 54,882 yen per tsubo (US$150 per square metre), the 13th-straight quarter of gains, Jones Lang LaSalle said.

Grade A office buildings are sites with total leasable floor area of more than 10,000 square metres and more than 800 square metres per floor, according to Jones Lang LaSalle.

The buildings should be no older than 25 years.


Source: Bloomberg (Business Times 14 Nov 07)

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