Kenny Lam, chief investment officer for strategic investment at Hong Kong’s Link REIT, has resigned from his role after just over a year on the job, as rising interest rates dent prospects for listed property trusts globally.
Lam is leaving to pursue other opportunities and will stay in his current role until the end of September, a company spokesperson informed Mingtiandi. An earlier report by PERE News indicated that Lam will be rejoining his former employer Manulife Investment Management, however, representatives with the Canadian institution had not replied to inquiries from Mingtiandi by the time of publication.
“We are appreciative for Lam’s efforts in strengthening the team, which will continuously play a part in the implementation of Link’s new growth strategy Link 3.0,” the company representative said.
“Link has a team standing ready for its next growth journey,” the spokesperson added while underlining the REIT manager’s commitment to its optimise its investment portfolio through diversification and by finding opportunities for joint ventures and expanding its fee generating business.
People on the Move
Ranked as Asia’s largest REIT with a portfolio of investment properties worth HK$237.5 billion ($30.3 billion) as of the close of the first quarter, Link managed to grow its revenues by 5.4 percent to HK$12.2 billion for the 12 months ending 31 March. However, after accounting for foreign currency depreciation, the trust suffered a loss after distributions of HK$182 million.
Following Lam’s departure, Link’s CEO George Hongchoy will assume interim leadership of the manager’s strategic investment team, and is working closely with the group on the handover.
Lam had joined Link REIT in June of last year as one of a trio of senior leaders as it branched out into investments in new geographies across a broader swath of sectors. The other senior hires at the time were Ronald Tham, of Hong Kong conglomerate Lai Sun Group, who joined as chief corporate development officer and former Vanke executive Haiqun Zhu who took on the role of managing director for mainland China. Both executives continue to serve with the company.
During his nearly five-year term at Manulife IM Real Estate in Hong Kong, Lam served as chief investment officer for Asia and head of Asia transactions, before leaving in May of last year. He also worked earlier stints with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority as chief manager for direct investment on its global real estate team from 2015 through 2017.
The graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School also has previous experience with Ping An Real Estate in Shanghai and JP Morgan Asset Management.
With Lam on his way last year, Manulife Investment Management in April had promoted Jessie Liu to head of transactions and portfolio management for Asia real estate private markets, however, Liu left the firm during the second quarter of this year.
Tough Year for Trusts
During the past year the Hang Seng REIT index, which tracks real estate investment trusts listed on the Hong Kong bourse, has slid by 30.56 percent, as the listed property vehicles see their growth chances curbed by higher interest rates, and investors get lured away by high-returning bonds and other opportunities.
Notwithstanding its ability to keep growing its revenue, Link REIT’s share price declined more than 38 percent in the last year.
“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,” Link’s Hongchoy said in announcing the trust’s latest financials in May of this year.
In December of 2022 Link made Singapore’s largest real estate transaction of the year when it invested $1.6 billion purchasing a set of retail assets, including the Jurong Point shopping centre.