State-run China Life Insurance Co. is reportedly investing over $1 billion in warehouses in the U.S., making it the company's largest real estate purchase abroad, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a source.
China Life will pick up a 30 percent stake in the warehouse operations that were recently bought by Singapore-based Global Logistic Properties, according to the Journal. Global Logistic Properties had said it planned to buy assets belonging to Denver-based Industrial Income Trust Inc. in July, and the acquisition was completed Thursday. Global Logistic Properties said in a statement Thursday that the company was forming a new fund to manage its assets, adding that China Life Insurance and two other institutional investors have invested in 66 percent of the fund.
“Investor demand to partner with us on this portfolio is strong and we are very pleased to complete this acquisition together with three leading global institutional investors. This transaction is in line with our growth strategy of expanding into the best logistics markets internationally via our Fund Management Platform," Global Logistic Properties CEO Ming Z. Mei said, in the statement.
China Life's move comes as Chinese insurers seek to invest in overseas properties amid sluggish economic growth in the country. Last week, a unit of China’s Ping An Insurance (Group) Co., reportedly created a fund worth $600 million with U.S.-based Blumberg Investment Partners, to invest in properties across the U.S.
In April, the non-insurance subsidiaries of Ping An, which is China’s biggest insurer by premiums, and China Life, took a one-third stake each in a development project in Boston worth $500 million, along with Tishman Speyer Properties, the Journal reported. China Life also procured a 70 percent stake in London’s 10 Upper Bank Street, which hosts an office space of over a million square feet. The property is located adjacent to Canary Wharf.
According to data from property brokerage JLL, cited by the Journal, except for Ping An, the insurers in the company allot only 1 percent of their capital to real estate. In comparison, insurers in the U.S. and Europe allocate between 5 and 15 percent to real estate.
“This leaves big potential for further inflows to overseas real estate,” Darren Xia, head of JLL’s International Capital Group of China, said, according to the Journal, adding that Chinese insurers could set aside up to $240 billion to invest in real estate abroad.