Asset management giant BlackRock has confirmed that the firm’s head of investments for Asia Pacific real estate, Greg Lapham, is stepping down from his role.
John Saunders, Head of BlackRock Asia Pacific Real Estate, said that Lapham had decided to leave the firm to pursue other opportunities.
“All in all, Greg’s departure will have no impact on the strategic direction of the real estate investment platform which continues to seek to deliver products and performance that meet our clients’ needs,” the BlackRock chief said in response to an enquiry from Mingtiandi.
Hamish MacDonald, BlackRock’s head of real estate in Australia, has expanded his remit to cover real estate investments across Asia Pacific following Lapham’s resignation.
Taking over the departing head’s previous responsibilities, MacDonald now oversees the investment teams across the region, with responsibility for leading the origination, evaluation and execution of investments, as well as managing the business plan and advising on the disposal of assets.
Saunders, who has led BlackRock’s real estate business in APAC for six years, said that MacDonald is “supported by a strong and experienced regional team.” The news of Lapham’s departure was first reported by industry journal PERE.
Lapham Leaves Former MGPA Colleagues
Lapham has stepped down after nearly six years as the chief investment officer for the firm’s real estate business in Asia Pacific.
Prior to his time with the asset management behemoth in Hong Kong, Lapham had served for four years as the chief financial officer in Asia for MGPA, the Singapore-based private equity investment firm that was acquired by BlackRock six years ago.
Before its merger with BlackRock, MGPA had also been the home of Saunders and MacDonald, the investment firm’s CEO for Asia and director for Australia respectively.
“We thank Greg for his many contributions over the last ten years and wish him well in his future endeavours,” Saunders said of his departing colleague.
A University of Queensland pure maths graduate, Lapham had also served as the head of leveraged and acquisition finance for National Australia Bank from 2005 to 2008, after four years at PriceWaterhouseCoopers as the company’s director of global restructuring services.
BlackRock Pushes Into Asia
The news of Lapham’s resignation comes four months after Geraldine Buckingham, BlackRock’s head of Asia Pacific, was given greater decision-making powers in the region as part of a push by the asset manager to expand growth beyond the US.
With $6.84 trillion in assets under management globally as of the end of June this year, but only $471 billion of AUM in Asia at the end of 2018, Blackrock’s chairman and chief executive officer Larry Fink has targeted the region as a growth hotspot.
In the same month that Fink expanded Buckingham’s role, the CEO said in the company’s annual report that China is “one of the largest future growth opportunities for BlackRock”, while in a letter to shareholders last year Fink identified Asia, and especially China, as being key to BlackRock’s overseas expansion.
The corporate chieftain told shareholders in his 2018 letter that, although the firm’s presence in China had been hampered in the past by regulatory restrictions, the current opening up of investment firms’ access to the market presented significant opportunities.
In July last year, BlackRock began marketing its first onshore fund in China, working together with mainland finance giant CITIC Securities to offer its China A-Share Opportunities Private Fund 1 to local clients.
BlackRock Real Estate, which manages $21 billion in assets globally, closed its fourth Asia-focused real estate fund, Asia Property Fund IV, at $500 million in November 2017, falling short of its original target of $1 billion.
In January last year, the asset manager acquired two office blocks in the Waterfront Place commercial complex in Shanghai’s Putuo District from PGIM Real Estate for RMB 1.2 billion ($170 million), according to sources who spoke to Mingtiandi.