Hines has brought aboard local veterans to strengthen its teams in Japan and South Korea, as the US-based developer looks to transition from the investment advisory sphere to a focus on acquisitions and development in the two markets.
Joining the firm are Hyungsub Lee, a director in the Seoul office, and Sho Morita, an associate based in Tokyo. The pair will spearhead a recruitment push aiming to nearly double headcount in the two countries by year-end, where Hines currently has seven staff.
The new hires were announced Tuesday by managing director Drew Huffman, who oversees acquisitions, development and new business generation in Japan and South Korea for Hines after relocating from the Hong Kong office to Tokyo last February.
“Hines is enthusiastic about the Japan and Korean real estate investment markets and is optimistic about our robust pipeline and some early traction we have,” Huffman said. “We have had a long-term commitment to the Asia Pacific region since our entry 25 years ago and are excited about growing our business here for years to come.”
Lee brings with him over 12 years of Korean real estate experience. Before joining Hines, he served as head of transactions at DWS Korea, the local arm of Deutsche Bank’s asset management division. The Yonsei University grad began his career at private equity firm Rutter Associates Korea.
Morita joined Hines after more than eight years with developer Hulic, which purchased the Hilton Tokyo Odaiba from Elliott Management for $541 million in 2018 and is one of Japan’s largest real estate companies. He spent eight years at Tokyo-listed Hulic, as an assistant manager in the business planning division and as a senior associate in the investment division, where he was in charge of acquiring more than 25 assets of $1.5 billion in value. Morita holds a bachelor’s degree in law from Keio University.
Huffman started his Hines career in 2011 as an analyst. Since then he has ascended the ranks and assumed responsibility for the acquisition and disposition of more than 30 assets exceeding 8 million square feet (743,224 square metres) and $2 billion in value.
Hines launched its Tokyo desk in 2017 as an outpost of the firm’s capital markets group. Having set up in China since 1996, the company broadened its Japan mission in 2020 with Tokyo now serving as a regional office for development, acquisitions and asset management.
Hines established its South Korea platform in 2013. Since then, Hines Korea has provided advisory services to professional investors and managed relationships with major institutions. This year has seen an enhanced presence in the country with the opening of a regional investment and development office in Seoul.
Houston-based Hines said the latest expansion further demonstrates the firm’s commitment to become vertically integrated throughout Asia by elevating the investment management platform and capitalising on opportunities in the region.
Hines venture into China more than two decades ago was its initial beach head in Asia, and the developer now has a number of offices in the country, where it remains one of the few US developers to successfully pursue multiple projects. These include the showpiece One Museum Place skyscraper in Shanghai and three other mixed-use developments in the megacity, plus several ventures in Beijing and Dalian.
More recently, Hines joined forces with a Carlyle Group-backed real estate fund manager to acquire a 362,000 square foot Walmart-leased cold chain facility in Dongguan, Guangdong province.
Asia Pacific chief executive Ray Lawler said Hines looks forward to adding development and acquisition projects in Japan and South Korea.
“The growth of these two key regional offices will be a major advantage in ensuring that we continue to capitalize on new opportunities and increase our business here,” Lawler said. “We are excited to further our reach across the Asia Pacific region and grow our real estate footprint and investor outreach.”
Founded in 1957, privately-owned Hines has a presence in 225 cities in 25 countries and $144.1 billion in assets under management.