【英语财经】中国买家大举投资海外商业地产 Chinese go on global property spree

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2014-6-13 06:56

小艾摘要: The global commercial property market owes the Chinese a collective hug.Transaction volumes across the world are expected to rise 15 per cent this year to $600bn, thanks in large part to a significant ...
Chinese go on global property spree
The global commercial property market owes the Chinese a collective hug.

Transaction volumes across the world are expected to rise 15 per cent this year to $600bn, thanks in large part to a significant jump in Chinese overseas investment.

Knight Frank, the property consultancy, predicts Chinese money flowing into international property will double before the year is out, with the number of deals originating from China expected to reach their highest levels since 2007.

Peter MacColl, the consultancy’s global head of capital markets, refers to the rise in outbound Asian capital – particularly from China – as “seismic”, adding that the flow of capital into commercial property shows no signs of slowing.

Knight Frank has an obvious interest in talking up the market, but it is clear MacColl’s argument has substance. Indeed, demand is even stronger in the residential sector: in April, the Chinese became the biggest foreign buyers of apartments in Manhattan for the first time, according to estimates from property brokers – a title that once belonged to the Russians.

All this is welcome news for investors but comes at a time when China’s own property market appears vulnerable and its economy continues to splutter, begging the question of whether investors should be worried about China’s hold over the global property sector.

Chinese growth slowed in the first quarter of this year to 7.4 per cent from 7.7 per cent at the end of last year. Schroders, the London-based investment manager, predicts it “will slow further from here”. The investment house adds that financing conditions “remain tight”, the country’s domestic property market “looks soft” and “headwinds” will continue to hamper “China’s dash for growth”.

One New York-based property fund manager, who wishes to remain anonymous, says: “It is perhaps not a time for alarm bells, but I am definitely concerned.”

Don Jordison, managing director of Threadneedle Property Investments, agrees. Talking specifically about the UK market, he likens China’s appetite for UK property to that once demonstrated by Irish and Icelandic buyers.

“There are interesting historical parallels when looking at Chinese investment in UK commercial property,” he says. “The past has seen many incursions overseas by foreign investors with overleveraged domestic economies, going back as far as the Scandinavians in the late 1980s, followed by the Irish and Icelanders leading up to the last crash in 2008.

“While I am not saying the Chinese economy resembles that of Iceland in 2008, I would urge caution in a market where investors could be exporting some of the excesses of their domestic economy.”

Some perspective is needed, however. While Chinese investment in overseas deals is set to double this year to $30bn, that figure will still only make up some 5 per cent of total transaction volumes – a number many investment experts are comfortable with.

Richard Gwilliam, head of property research at the real estate arm of M&G, the asset manager, says: “Global property is not over-reliant on Chinese buyers and investors have little reason to worry.”

He points out that in the majority of markets, purchases are still predominantly carried out by domestic investors and, even if this were not the case, investment from China has a long way to run.

“Recent legislation in China has eased rules over the ability of Chinese insurers to invest in overseas real estate,” Gwilliam says. “There is massive potential from this source of capital. Even if China’s economy was to see a slowdown, investment in overseas property would still likely grow dramatically. Arguably, it could increase at a faster rate in this scenario as Chinese investors look to diversify away from their weaker home economy.”

Experts from ING Investment Management, Knight Frank and Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management concur. And Chris Taylor, chief executive of Hermes Real Estate, the property manager, says simply: “Whilst a correction in the Chinese economy would undoubtedly have major implications for the global economy, this should not in itself be of particular cause for concern for domestic real estate investors.”

On balance, fund managers appear comfortable with the situation. According to them, the commercial property fraternity does indeed owe the Chinese a hug. But with China’s economy looking fragile and some investment experts expressing caution, investors should perhaps be wary of it turning into a bear hug.

全球商业地产市场作为一个整体,应该给中国人一个大大的拥抱。

今年世界各地的商业地产交易规模预计将增长15%,达到6000亿美元,这在很大程度上要归功于中国人海外投资的大幅增长。

房地产咨询公司莱坊(Knight Frank)预计,在今年年终以前,流入国际地产市场的中国资金规模将增长一倍,中国投资者发起的交易数量预计将达到自2007年以来的最高水平。

莱坊的资本市场全球主管彼得?麦科尔(Peter MacColl)将亚洲对外投资资本的增长势头——特别是中国的对外投资——称为“影响深远的”,并补充称,流入商业地产的资金没有显示出放缓的迹象。

往积极的方向评论市场,显然符合莱坊的利益,但麦科尔的观点明显是有一定道理的。的确,住宅领域的需求甚至更加强劲:根据地产经纪人的估测,今年4月份中国人首次成为曼哈顿地区公寓的最大海外买家——这一称号一度属于俄罗斯人。

这一切对于投资者来说都是值得高兴的好消息,但目前正值中国国内的房地产市场出现脆弱迹象,而经济形势继续疲软,这就带来一个问题:投资者是否应当对中国支配全球地产市场感到担忧?

今年第一季度中国经济增速放缓至7.4%,低于去年第四季度的7.7%。总部位于伦敦的投资管理公司施罗德(Schroders)预计,中国经济增长“将在当前水平基础上进一步放缓”。该投资机构补充称,中国的融资条件“仍然紧张”,国内房地产市场“呈现疲态”,而“顶头风”将继续阻碍“中国的保增长努力”。

纽约一位不愿透露姓名的地产基金经理表示:“或许还没到敲响警钟的时候,但我确实心存担忧。”

Threadneedle Property Investments的董事总经理唐?乔迪森(Don Jordison)对此表示赞同。他在谈到英国市场时,将中国买家对英国房产的兴趣与当年爱尔兰和冰岛买家展示的强劲需求相提并论。

乔迪森表示:“看一看中国买家对英国商业地产的投资,可以发现一些有意思的历史相似之处。英国地产市场曾经多次遭遇外资流入——这些海外投资者的本国经济通常杠杆率过高,最早可以追溯到20世纪80年代末的斯堪的纳维亚买家,其后是在2008年上一次市场崩溃前的爱尔兰和冰岛买家。”

“我并不是说,中国经济格局类似于2008年的冰岛。但我有必要提醒大家在当今的市场保持谨慎,海外投资者可能将国内的部分过剩资金向外输出。”

不过,也需要综合考虑这个问题。虽然中国海外房产投资额今年将翻番,增至300亿美元,但这仍仅占总交易量的5%左右。这一比例令不少投资专家感到放心。

资产管理公司M&G旗下房地产部门的研究主管理查德?格威廉(Richard Gwilliam)表示:“全球房地产并不过度依赖中国买家,投资者没什么可担心的。”

他指出,在大多数市场,房地产的主要买家仍是国内投资者。即便不是如此,来自中国的投资至少将是很有后劲的。

“中国近期立法,放宽了对中国保险商投资海外房地产的限制,”格威廉表示,“这一资本来源潜力巨大。即使中国经济放缓,海外地产投资仍有可能大幅增加。甚至可以说,海外地产投资在这种情况下可能增速更高,因为中国投资者会分散投资,避开国内较为疲弱的经济。”

荷兰国际集团投资管理公司(ING Investment Management)、莱坊以及德意志银行资产与财富管理部(Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management)的专家们均表示同意。物业管理公司Hermes Real Estate首席执行官克里斯?泰勒(Chris Taylor)干脆地说道:“中国经济回调无疑会对全球经济产生重大影响,但国内房地产投资者不用特别担忧。”

总体而言,基金经理似乎对现状感到满意。他们认为,商业地产界确实欠中国人一个拥抱。但由于中国经济表现出脆弱,一些投资专家表示谨慎,投资者或许应当警惕这种拥抱变成过于热情的“熊抱”。

译者/何黎

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