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Property investor seeks prime sites

REAL estate investment firm Pacific Star Group said it plans to acquire more prime-located office and retail properties in China after an industry downturn and a global economic crisis have eroded property values.

The Singapore-based company, which currently manages a suite of funds, said it will be particularly keen in first-tier cities including Shanghai and Beijing.

"China is an important market with tremendous growth opportunities," Wilfred Wong, newly appointed executive chairman of Pacific Star's China operations, told Shanghai Daily in an exclusive phone interview on Wednesday. "By 2011, we hope to expand our global portfolio to US$10 billion from the current size of about US$4 billion and a large amount of the money will be invested in China."

In 2007, Pacific Star bought a 50-percent stake in Cross Tower, an office development on downtown Fuzhou Road, its first acquisition in Shanghai. Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB, a major North European financial group, holds the other half.

The firm also said it plans to put US$500 million for China in an earlier launched fund - the US$2-billion Asia Fund Select Concept.

There is a general consensus that market corrections could make 2009 a good year for investors as buying opportunities are sprouting due to a significant cut in capital values of some high-quality property assets.

Many international investors, who had focused on property investments in Tier II and Tier III cities on the Chinese mainland over the past few years, are now switching back to high-quality properties in Tier I cities, real estate services provider Jones Lang LaSalle said last month.

In Shanghai, overseas investors bought real estate worth 16.3 billion yuan (US$2.38 billion) last year, a fall of 26 percent from 2007, according to the firm.


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