Hong Kong’s Gaw Capital Partners is said to be nearing a deal to acquire seven Japanese warehouses owned by funds managed by Blackstone for about JPY 80 billion ($540 million).
Sources familiar with the discussions confirmed with Mingtiandi an earlier report by Bloomberg that talks over the Greater Tokyo-area assets are ongoing and at an advanced stage.
Should the discussions result in a transaction, the deal would be the latest Japan milestone for Gaw Capital, which has turned its attention to Asia’s second largest economy this year with landmark office deals, data centre projects and a May purchase of a set of 32 Tokyo residential properties.
In a meeting on Friday, Japan’s central bank kept interest rates steady with 10-year bond yields at around 0 percent even after the yen sank to a 32-year low against the dollar last month, providing investors like Gaw Capital which raised US dollar funds with discounted asset prices and low borrowing costs.
While sources were unable to identify Gaw’s target assets in the deal with Blackstone, the US private equity giant has been building an inventory of Japanese warehouses over the past few years as it eyes rising demand from the country’s growing e-commerce sector.
In July 2019, Blackstone acquired six large scale logistics facilities from a fund managed by Singapore’s Mapletree for JPY 100 billion (then $920 million), including a Tokyo area facility occupied by Amazon. That portfolio was dominated by facilities near the Japanese capital.
Then in August 2020, Blackstone acquired four more logistics facilities in Japan from Daiwa House Industry for around JPY 55 billion, according to a Nikkei report. The former Daiwa House assets are located in the Kanto region, which includes Tokyo, as well as the central Chubu region.
Representatives for Blackstone and Gaw Capital have declined to comment on this latest transaction.
Japan in Focus
Gaw Capital reached a $1.2 billion first close on its Gateway Real Estate Fund VII just one year ago, with the company having identified Japan as one of the primary targets for that strategy.
In an interview in August, Isabella Lo, Gaw’s head of Japan investments said that her firm plans to grow its investment in Japan to as much as $4 billion in the next two years to take advantage of the weakening yen, with logistics property one of its top bets.
In May, Gaw Capital announced that it had acquired 32 residential properties in Tokyo and other main cities on behalf of Qatar Investment Authority, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, adding to its growing portfolio of Japan rental apartments.
Just one month earlier, the Hong Kong firm expanded its data centre holdings into Japan with the acquisition of a Greater Tokyo site for a 40MW IT campus.
In January of this year Gaw Capital announced that it had backed US investment firm Invesco’s $3 billion privatisation of the 18-property Invesco J-REIT, which stands as Japan’s largest office transaction of this year.
Leasing Demand Rises
E-commerce operators and logistics companies continued to drive robust demand for logistics facilities in Greater Tokyo in the July to September period with net absorption in the period reaching 5.3 million square feet (492,386 square metres) of space – the highest so far in 2022, according to CBRE research.
Coupled with low interest rates and a cheaper yen, this demand is encouraging more logistics acquisitions by international investors.
In August, M&G Real Estate set up a long-term partnership with industrial giant ESR to develop a portfolio of logistics properties in Japan, with the UK-based fund manager committing up to $350 million in equity towards the cause.
In February of this year US developer Hines entered Japan’s logistics market with a plan for a 225,000 square metre distribution centre in Nagoya, and in January, GLP announced the final closing of GLP Japan Development Partners IV with JPY 412 billion ($3.7 billion) in total commitments.
Note: An earlier version of this story had misspelled the name of Gaw Capital’s head of Japan. She is now correctly identified as Isabella Lo. Mingtiandi regrets the error.