Many investors are looking to emerging markets to capture growth, and lately Indonesia has turned up on a lot of their radar screens due to its rapid growth. In its most recent Asia Pacific Property Digest from first quarter 2012, Jones Lang LaSalle enthuses that Indonesia is “one of the region’s brightest spots currently,” noting that Indonesia recorded growth of 6.3 percent year-over-year in first quarter 2012, similar to fourth quarter 2011.
From the Current Issue
Hing Yin Lee is the senior executive director in the real estate investment department of Ping An Trust, the US$30.8 billion investment arm of China’s Ping An Insurance (Group). He is responsible for formulating real estate investment strategy and proprietary research for the company, identifying investment opportunities, and providing advice on deal execution. Lee recently spoke with Alex Eidlin, associate publisher of The Letter – Asia Pacific,about his organization and its property-related activities.
Chinese developers recognized good potential in the retail sector early on. They built shopping malls across China trying to capitalize on the growing consumer segment of the Chinese population. Many of these malls were so big that one wonders if the developers conducted any feasibility and demand studies before they built them. Most likely, as with many projects in China by local developers, they were built on a belief that “if you build it, they will come.” In many instances, though, retailers and shoppers did not come, and many shopping malls remained empty or suffered poor occupancy rates.
Rapid growth and good demographics make newly emerging Asian markets such as Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia intriguing options for investors. Should investors explore these new frontiers, or are risks too high and unjustifiable for institutional investors? At the same time, a lot of capital has gone to more established emerging economies such as China, Hong Kong and South Korea. Are these more developed emerging markets overpriced, or do good opportunities still exist there?
More than a decade after the Asian Financial Crisis, investors are warming up gradually to the Southeast Asian region, targeting the relatively more developed economies of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. Most investments in these markets (with the exception of Singapore) fall toward the opportunistic end of the investment spectrum. While most investors have shied away from other emerging markets such as Vietnam or the Philippines, some are starting to embrace new horizons as familiarity with the region deepens.
In light of the economic turmoil that Vietnam has gone through — and continues to go through — the question remains: Is Vietnam the right destination for investing in real estate?