From: Reuters
Published December 14, 2007 02:56 AM

LaSalle lifts Asia property investment to $20 bln

By Sebastian Tong

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - LaSalle Investment Management is raising investment in Asia over the next three to four years to up to $20 billion as investor appetite for the region grows despite a credit squeeze, an executive said on Friday.

The firm, which manages about $47 billion in assets including private real estate and publicly listed property securities, is upbeat on Asia as the region has remained largely unscathed from the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis that has dented business and consumer confidence elsewhere.

"Even with all the uncertainty in the global debt markets, we still see opportunity in this part of the world and are confident in raising more money," David Edwards, the firm's regional investment strategist for Asia Pacific, told Reuters.

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"We expect that at least half of our investment will be in Japan but we don't make specific market allocations," he added.

LaSalle raised more funds for direct real estate investment in the region after saying in August that it would plough $15 billion in the next three to five years to buy and develop property in Asia.

Edwards expects returns from Asia Pacific real estate to moderate but remain higher than returns from other regions for the same level of risk.

He said a shortage of office space in markets such as South Korea and Japan, as well as robust consumer confidence in fast-growing economies such as China and India, offer opportunities for commercial and retail property investment.

LaSalle already manages $9.5 billion worth of real estate assets in Asia, where it expects to be overweight for the next 12 months, Edwards said.

The firm will stay slightly underweight in the U.S. and the UK, where debt financing for property acquisitions has already slowed.

(Reporting by Sebastian Tong, editing by Neil Chatterjee)

(sebastian.tong@reuters.com; Reuters Messaging: sebastian.tong.reuters.com@reuters.net; +65 6403-5661)

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