Apr 05 2017Add to Favorites
Ruth Liew, Bloomberg
Record low yields and negative interest rates are pushing investors from Japan to China into funding infrastructure projects across the globe to bolster ailing income, according to Australia’s biggest listed wealth manager AMP Ltd.
Asian pension funds and insurers are ramping up investments in infrastructure debt around the world including mezzanine offerings as they seek to combat waning returns from traditional fixed income assets, said Kerry Ching, managing director for Asia of the company’s investment arm, AMP Capital Investors. The number of Asian investors in AMP’s infrastructure debt strategies has more than tripled since 2012.
“Because insurance and pension funds have a large chunk of their portfolio in marketable securities and fixed interest which has been extremely volatile for the last couple of years, they’re looking for stability,” she said in an interview in Hong Kong. “Global infrastructure debt was a very successful strategy and there’s stability in the capital value.”
Infrastructure spending plans are drawing greater scrutiny worldwide, including a $1 trillion splurge pledged by President Donald Trump to improve roads, airports and bridges across the U.S. Investors pumped a record $413 billion into infrastructure investments globally last year, according to data provider Preqin. Managers such as Global Infrastructure Partners and Brookfield Asset Management raised unprecedented amounts of funding for their infrastructure strategies in 2016.
AMP has invested more than $3 billion in 56 infrastructure debt assets and raised about $1 billion from investors so far for its third fund in the asset class. The company is “on track” to meet the $2 billion fundraising targets for its latest infrastructure debt strategy, an AMP spokeswoman said in a March 31 email. Such debt funds at the firm target a 10 percent yield on investments, according to the email.
The A$165 billion ($125 billion) manager is seeing increasing interest from Taiwanese and South Korean investors, Ching said. Direct and listed real estate investments including commercial properties in Australia are also increasingly popular among Asian investors thirsty for yield, she said.
“Australian economic conditions have held up relatively well compared with Europe,” she said. “Australian property offers slightly better yield than some of our properties in Hong Kong or Singapore.”
As fund flows increase from Asia, AMP Capital is looking to add to its distribution team in the region, Ching said. “In Hong Kong, we will be hiring a few people this year.”
Home loan approvals have fallen significantly off the back of the APRA and the Royal Commission initiatives together with new Responsible Lending Criteria. The ABS recently reported that home loan approvals have fallen by 13.6% year on year and within that, investment loans have come back by c.20%
Off the back of successfully settling a $48m syndicated first mortgage for a residential apartment development in Sans Souci just weeks ago, Sydney-based real estate investment manager Centennial Property Group (CPG) opened a new fund with a focus on the industrial and logistics market, Centennial Industrial and Logistics Fund II (CIL II). The fund, available only to wholesale and private high net worth investors, opened on 1 November and was seeking to raise c. $38 million. CPG closed the fund less than two weeks later, well before the official close date, due to oversubscription.
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