The European Association for Investors in Non-listed Real Estate Vehicles (INREV), had a successful first annual conference, held in Budapest last month, with more than 300 leading real estate fund managers, advisers and investors attending.
The association used the event to launch a major research piece into fees in unlisted vehicles, a survey of investor intentions for the year ahead, a white paper on promoting liquidity in unlisted funds and the launch of the INREV index for 2004.
Delegates heard from speakers on real estate and the wider economy, including Larry Hathaway, chief economist and head of asset allocation for UBS Investment Bank, Financial Times writer John Plender, economist Roger Bootle, Arlington Property Investors deputy managing director Andrew Smith and Jacques Gordon, international director of strategy and investment for LaSalle Investment Management.
Hathaway pointed out that UBS had recently added real estate to the roster of ‘traditional’ asset classes alongside equities and bonds, and recommends a 5% benchmark weighting in the asset class, but to be overweight at the moment.
All the economic commentators noted the global economy was in an unusual state “freakish”, according to Plender. Gordon said the bull market in real estate still had another three or four years to run before demand began to die down. He said a lot of money was coming out of fixed income into real estate.
More and more investors were investing cross-border, said Gordon, in order to get better returns and to diversify risk. This has been helped by more investment managers operating globally and increasing transparency in global markets. Not all markets are transparent though, he said, and the less transparent ones will be where opportunity lies. Gordon said Asia would be the focus for opportunistic real estate investing in 2005-2008.
Smith said the European non-listed funds market was maturing rapidly, with the emergence of more specialist and more value-added funds, better market information and more developed benchmarks.
However, he pointed out that improved transparency had the effect of making yields converge in the various European markets.
INREV also used the conference to announce the appointment of a new chief executive to replace Judy Hill, who stands down at the end of July.
Lisette van Doorn-Groniger, currently managing director of research and strategy for ING Real Estate Investment Management in Europe, has been appointed to the role.
Van Doorn-Groniger, 32, will be responsible for driving membership growth, developing new products for the non-listed funds industry and working towards the association’s goals of increased transparency and professionalism in the sector.
Michiel Olland, chairman of INREV, said: “We are delighted to welcome Lisette to INREV. Her extensive experience in the fields of strategy, research and management has already proved invaluable during her chairmanship of INREV’s research committee.”