For just the second time in a decade, CBRE knocked JLL from its perch as the top broker of commercial real estate investment deals in Asia Pacific, according to recently released rankings by data provider Real Capital Analytics.
With the coronavirus driving down deal volumes by 23 percent last year across APAC, CBRE landed major deals in Japan and Singapore that helped it take the top spot.
“This incredible result is testament of our strong client relationships as well as local market knowledge and cultural insights across Asia Pacific,” said Greg Hyland, CBRE’s head of capital markets for Asia Pacific. “We will continue to sharpen our platform, adapting and innovating to better service our clients.”
While not included in the scope of the rankings, longtime regional champ JLL, leveraged its connections with major institutions to lead the way in brokering investment into the region from other parts of the globe, while also notching significant volumes of hotel and sale-and-leaseback deals in the region.
Stacking Up Deals
CBRE, which brokered the most commercial deals globally for the 10th consecutive year, led the way in Asia Pacific in part due to its involvement in mega-deals such as Blackstone’s JPY 300 billion ($2.7 billion) buyback of a portfolio of Japanese rental apartments from mainland Chinese insurer Anbang. Completed in May, that sale was the largest property deal ever in Japan.
Also adding to CBRE’s win total was its brokering of Singaporean property investment manager Peakstone’s A$530 million ($411.6 million) purchase of an office block at 45 Clarence Street in Sydney, as well as the S$280.9 million ($211.9 million) sale of Mediacorp’s hilltop Andrew Road site in Singapore to a Perennial Real Estate-controlled entity.
CBRE topped RCA’s global rankings across most property types, including office, industrial, retail, apartment and development site sales. The agency called attention to its industry-leading market shares of 22.7 percent in global office sales and 30 percent in global logistics and industrial sales.
Closed Borders, Open Markets
With cross-border investment by Singaporean and Hong Kong institutions dropping markedly in 2020, according to RCA, JLL was able to draw on its connections with investors in North America and Europe to maintain its position shepherding capital heading into Asia Pacific.
Among the large inbound deals that JLL helped to broker last year was the acquisition of a A$300 million Melbourne office project, which was acquired by a fund backed by British Columbia’s Quadreal Property Group in February 2020.
The Canadian institution made that purchase of Victoria Place in Melbourne through a fund managed by ARA Asset Management.
JLL also struck gold by fostering sale-and-leaseback arrangements that allowed corporates to monetise their real estate holdings during the pandemic, including grocery retailer Aldi’s A$648 million sale of a set of Australian warehouse assets to fund manager Charter Hall. In total, the firm notched $800 million in sale-and-leaseback transactions around the region last year.
“As many continue to re-evaluate their business models and look to maximise working capital during this time of uncertainty, real estate is viewed through a different lens, whereby it can provide both a source of immediate cash flow and tenancy flexibility,” Jeremy Sheldon, head of markets for JLL Asia Pacific, explained in an earlier interview as the company saw its business brokering sale-and-leaseback deals leap.
The Chicago-based firm also scored major wins in the Aussie market after brokering $4.8 billion in deals worth $10 million or more, and it also performed well in Singapore through its role in Alibaba’s $1.2 billion acquisition of a 50 percent stake in the AXA Tower among other deals.