George Hongchoy, chief executive of Link Asset Management, the manager of Hong Kong-listed Link REIT will be speaking in the keynote panel which opens the Mingtiandi Hong Kong Focus Forum on 27 June. Tickets to the event are available via the Register link below while supplies last.
As chief executive of Link REIT since 2010, George Hongchoy has been responsible for transforming Asia’s largest real estate investment trust from an owner of retail facilities at public housing estates into a diversified investor in commercial and industrial properties across five markets in Asia Pacific and the UK.
After expanding Link REIT’s into mainland China in 2015, Hongchoy has gone on to lead acquisitions of properties in Australia and Singapore as the trust’s portfolio grew to HK$237 billion ($30.2 billion) by the end of March this year.
For the 12 months ended 31 March, Link REIT posted revenue growth of 5.4 percent to HK$12.2 billion ($1.6 billion), with the total distributable amount generated from its portfolio edging up 0.6 percent to HK$6.3 billion despite a sharp rise in market interest rates.
“Despite a challenging start to the financial year, our active and effective portfolio management strategy empowered us to remain productive and resilient against market cycles. We are delighted to report an increase in our net property income, while our valuations and earnings remained stable,” Hongchoy said in announcing the REIT’s financial performance last month.
While Hong Kong still accounts for more than 74 percent of the trust’s portfolio by value, more than 14 percent is in mainland China, with another 6 percent in Australia and the UK, while Singapore accounts for 5.5 percent after a $1.6 billion acquisition of a pair of retail assets late last year.
Now pursuing what it has dubbed its “Link 3.0” strategy, Hongchoy’s team is also moving to begin joint acquisitions with other investors while focusing on high-yielding sectors.
“As of now, we are committed to pursuing growth as we aim to optimise our portfolio through diversification and to grow our assets under management with capital partners,” Link says on its website. “We explore opportunities in multiple asset classes, with a focus on non-discretionary retail and logistics.”
From Banker to REIT Manager
Before helping launch Link REIT as the manager’s chief financial officer in 2009, Hongchoy had a more than 15-year career as a banker and investor in Hong Kong and New Zealand.
A graduate of the University of Canterbury in the UK, he went on to earn his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1991, specialising in finance. From there he joined Jardine Fleming in 1992 and became a managing director at JP Morgan Chase after it acquired Jardine’s finance business in 2000.
Hongchoy later went on to spend more than eight years with Singapore’s DBS Group, including serving as a managing director with DBS Asia Capital until 2008.
In addition to his duties with Link REIT, Hongchoy is a trustee of the Urban Land Institute and of the University of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Tracker Fund of Hong Kong, an adjunct professor at the University of Hong Kong and a member of the ESG Council for CNBC.
Hongchoy is among the many industry leaders speaking at Mingtiandi’s Hong Kong Focus Forum on the 27 June, and will be appearing in a panel with Graeme Torre of APG, Francis Li of Cushman & Wakefield and Conan Quan of WeWork.
Also speaking at the event will be PAG chairman Weijian Shan and Warburg Pincus managing director Ellen Ng, along with senior executives from Blackstone, GLP, DBS and Heitman.
The Mingtiandi Hong Kong Focus Forum is sponsored by Yardi.