Unlisted real estate: global sector increased by €1 trillion in 2018 as pension fund capital continues to pour in

Investment in the global real estate sector increased by €1 trillion last year in the fifth consecutive year of growth, in a year also marked by a slightly slowing pace consolidation among the industry’s biggest investors, who in turn are supported by ongoing pension fund investment.

Overall, total investment in unlisted global real estate climbed 12% in 2018 to hit €2.8 trillion in 2018, according to the combined investor INREV, ANREV and NCREIF survey.  Unlisted real estate represents the biggest chunk of total real estate AUM. Of the €2.8 trillion, non-listed accounts for 82.9% or €2.3 trillion with funds comprising almost half, 45.4% of the non-listed AUM.

Source: ANREV / INREV / NCREIF

As in previous years, pension funds accounted for the largest proportion of capital contributed. They dominated all three regions making up 50.2% of the total in Asia Pacific, 43.8% in Europe and 42.1% in North America.

However, not all sources of capital were equal across regions. In Europe, insurance companies were the second most significant contributors of capital, representing 24.6%. In Asia Pacific, the second slot was taken by sovereign wealth funds at 15.4%, whereas in North America it was ‘other sources’ at 12.9%.

The general uptick in AUM volumes and significant growth of some individual managers, reflects continuing consolidation in the real estate industry. Almost a fifth of managers reported involvement in mergers or acquisitions over the past 10 years, with 30% of them citing the expansion of global footprint as the main motivation for M&A activity. However, the consolidation trend slowed slightly in 2018.

Lonneke Löwik, INREV’s CEO, explains:

“This report speaks to the robust health of our industry with a fifth consecutive year of growth. During this period €1 trillion has been added to total AUM, reflecting investors’ ongoing confidence in the asset class. The report also indicates that consolidation of the market is not yet over because, compared with other industries, the real estate market remains segmented despite the recent growth of larger global players.”

There are some variations across investment strategies worth noting. The largest manager among Asia Pacific strategies is much larger than its peers, while there is less variation among the top 10 managers for European and North American strategies.

There was little change at the top across the regional strategies. PGIM topped the list again for managers operating North American strategies while AXA Investment Managers – Real Assets took the lead, once again, for those managing European strategies. In Asia Pacific CapitaLand Limited hung onto their first-place position while for global strategies it was The Blackstone Group who, again, held the top spot.

This year’s ANREV / INREV / NCREIF Fund Manager Survey survey includes 173 managers and represents total real estate assets under management of €2.8 trillion as at end 2018.

james.wallace@realassetmedia.com