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ESR upsizes development joint venture in Korea with APG and CPP Investments by up to US$1 billion

ESR upsizes development joint venture in Korea with APG and CPP Investments by up to US$1 billion
Canada NewsWire
SEOUL and HONG KONG, July 5, 2022

SEOUL and HONG KONG, July 5, 2022 /CNW/ – ESR Group Limited (“ESR” or the “Group”) (SEHK: 1821), APA…

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ESR upsizes development joint venture in Korea with APG and CPP Investments by up to US$1 billion

Canada NewsWire

SEOUL and HONG KONG, July 5, 2022 /CNW/ - ESR Group Limited ("ESR" or the "Group") (SEHK: 1821), APAC's largest real asset manager, announced today the upsize of its second development joint venture ("ESR-KS II" or the "Joint Venture") in Korea with APG and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board ("CPP Investments"). 

ESR-KS II was established by APG, CPP Investments, and ESR in June 2020 with US$1 billion as the initial equity allocation and upsize options of bringing the total equity investment capacity to as much as US$2 billion. ESR-KS II is a development joint venture which invests in and develops a best-in-class industrial and warehouse logistics portfolio in the Seoul and Busan metropolitan areas, the two markets with the largest populations and highest consumer spending in Korea. APG, CPP Investments and ESR agreed in 2020 to initial investments in the Joint Venture in the amounts of US$350 million, US$450 million and US$200 million, representing respective holding of 35%, 45% and 20% in the Joint Venture.The Joint Venture has deployed over 80% of the initial US$1 billion equity allocation in less than two years with over 1.3 million sqm of class A warehouse space under development.

The Joint Venture is a successor vehicle to the US$1.15 billion maiden development joint venture ("ESR-KS I"), of the trio in Korea. To date, a total of 3.9 million sqm of class A warehouse space has been developed (or under development) by ESR-KS I and ESR-KS II.  ESR-KS I has divested 30% (by total equity) of its completed properties to ESR Kendall Square REIT to date, generating total proceeds of over US$1.38 billion.

Thomas Nam, CEO of ESR-Kendall Square, ESR's South Korean platform, said: "Institutional investment in the Korean logistics sector remains very strong as investors continue to rebalance their allocations towards logistics assets against the backdrop of e-commerce acceleration. The upsize of ESR-KS II reflects the collective confidence of our capital partners in ESR's ability to capitalise on this secular opportunity. We will continue to build on our capital management and development strengths to identify quality opportunities and create value for our investors and stakeholders."

Jeffrey Shen and Stuart Gibson, Co-founders and Co-CEOs of ESR, said: "As the largest real asset manager in APAC, ESR's integrated fund management platform has provided its capital partners with access to some of the world's best secular growth opportunities propelled by the positive trends of e-commerce, digital transformation and financialisation of real estate. We are delighted to successfully upsize another vehicle with our longstanding capital partners and extend our track record of delivering consistent strong performance across our APAC portfolio."

Graeme Torre, Managing Director and APG's Head of Real Estate, Asia Pacific, said: "The Korean logistics market has shown its resiliency during the pandemic, while demonstrating healthy growth prospects underpinned by robust growth in e-commerce and third-party logistics. We continue to be supportive of the sector, which complements very well with our existing regional logistics exposure and offers very strong risk-adjusted returns that will benefit our pension fund clients and their participants. With ESR's leading track record and expertise in the local market, as well as their ESG credentials, we are pleased to continue our partnership with ESR and CPP Investments."

Gilles Chow, Managing Director, Head of Real Estate North Asia at CPP Investments, said: "Korea is one of the most sophisticated internet and e-commerce markets globally. We continue to see strong demand for quality logistics assets in the country. We are delighted to expand our successful partnership with APG and ESR to further capitalise on opportunities in the sector, which we believe will deliver steady, long-term returns for the CPP Fund."

ESR-Kendall Square, ESR's South Korean platform, is the largest logistics owner in the country with US$9.2 billion of assets under management ("AUM") and 4.3 million sqm of GFA as of 31 December 2021. In addition to its strong track record in fund management and its best-in-class portfolio of institutional-grade logistics assets, its sustainable approach to investments and operations has gained industry-wide recognition. In the 2021 Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark ("GRESB") Assessment, ESR-KS I was named "Regional Sector Leader" in the Development Benchmark, industrial real estate sector. The fund also received the highest possible 5 Green Stars rating, scoring 93 points and topped five "GRESB Development" rankings.

ESR-Kendall Square's properties have also earned numerous awards and green building certifications, including APAC's first WELL Gold Certification for logistics real estate and a number of LEED Gold Certifications.

About APG
As the largest pension provider in the Netherlands, APG looks after the pensions of 4.8 million participants. APG provides executive consultancy, asset management, pension administration, pension communication, and employer services. We work for pension funds and employers in the sectors of education, government, construction, cleaning, housing associations, sheltered employment organizations, medical specialists, and architects. APG manages approximately €586 billion (April 2022) in pension assets. With approximately 3,000 employees, we work from Heerlen, Amsterdam, Brussels, New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing. www.apg.nl

About CPP Investments
Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments™) is a professional investment management organization that manages the Fund in the best interest of the 21 million contributors and beneficiaries of the Canada Pension Plan. In order to build diversified portfolios of assets, investments are made around the world in public equities, private equities, real estate, infrastructure and fixed income. Headquartered in Toronto, with offices in Hong Kong, London, Luxembourg, Mumbai, New York City, San Francisco, São Paulo and Sydney, CPP Investments is governed and managed independently of the Canada Pension Plan and at arm's length from governments. At March 31, 2022, the Fund totalled C$539 billion. For more information, please visit www.cppinvestments.com or follow us on LinkedInFacebook or Twitter.

About ESR
ESR is APAC's largest real asset manager powered by the New Economy and the third largest listed real estate investment manager globally. With US$140.2 billion in total assets under management (AUM), our fully integrated development and investment management platform extends across key APAC markets, including China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Singapore, India, New Zealand and Southeast Asia, representing over 95% of GDP in APAC, and also includes an expanding presence in Europe and the U.S. We provide a diverse range of real asset investment solutions and New Economy real estate development opportunities across our private funds business, which allow capital partners and customers to capitalise on the most significant secular trends in APAC. ESR is the largest sponsor and manager of REITs in APAC with a total AUM of US$45 billion. Our purpose – Space and Investment Solutions for a Sustainable Future – drives us to manage sustainably and impactfully and we consider the environment and the communities in which we operate as key stakeholders of our business. Listed on the Main Board of The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, ESR is a constituent of the FTSE Global Equity Index Series (Large Cap), Hang Seng Composite Index and MSCI Hong Kong Index. More information is available at www.esr.com.

SOURCE Canada Pension Plan Investment Board

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Stay Ahead of GDP: 3 Charts to Become a Smarter Trader

When concerns of a recession are front and center, investors tend to pay more attention to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report. The Q4 2022 GDP report…

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When concerns of a recession are front and center, investors tend to pay more attention to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report. The Q4 2022 GDP report showed the U.S. economy grew by 2.9% in the quarter, and Wall Street wasn't disappointed. The day the report was released, the market closed higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($DJIA) up 0.61%, the S&P 500 index ($SPX) up 1.1%, and the Nasdaq Composite ($COMPQ) up 1.76%. Consumer Discretionary, Technology, and Energy were the top-performing S&P sectors.

Add to the GDP report strong earnings from Tesla, Inc. (TSLA) and a mega announcement from Chevron Corp. (CVX)—raising dividends and a $75 billion buyback round—and you get a strong day in the stock markets.

Why is the GDP Report Important?

If a country's GDP is growing faster than expected, it could be a positive indication of economic strength. It means that consumer spending, business investment, and exports, among other factors, are going strong. But the GDP is just one indicator, and one indicator doesn't necessarily tell the whole story. It's a good idea to look at other indicators, such as the unemployment rate, inflation, and consumer sentiment, before making a conclusion.

Inflation appears to be cooling, but the labor market continues to be strong. The Fed has stated in many of its previous meetings that it'll be closely watching the labor market. So that'll be a sticky point as we get close to the next Fed meeting. Consumer spending is also strong, according to the GDP report. But that could have been because of increased auto sales and spending on services such as health care, personal care, and utilities. Retail sales released earlier in January indicated that holiday sales were lower.

There's a chance we could see retail sales slowing in Q1 2023 as some households run out of savings that were accumulated during the pandemic. This is something to keep an eye on going forward, as a slowdown in retail sales could mean increases in inventories. And this is something that could decrease economic activity.

Overall, the recent GDP report indicates the U.S. economy is strong, although some economists feel we'll probably see some downside in 2023, though not a recession. But the one drawback of the GDP report is that it's lagging. It comes out after the fact. Wouldn't it be great if you had known this ahead of time so you could position your trades to take advantage of the rally? While there's no way to know with 100% accuracy, there are ways to identify probable events.

3 Ways To Stay Ahead of the Curve

Instead of waiting for three months to get next quarter's GDP report, you can gauge the potential strength or weakness of the overall U.S. economy. Steven Sears, in his book The Indomitable Investor, suggested looking at these charts:

  • Copper prices
  • High-yield corporate bonds
  • Small-cap stocks

Copper: An Economic Indicator

You may not hear much about copper, but it's used in the manufacture of several goods and in construction. Given that manufacturing and construction make up a big chunk of economic activity, the red metal is more important than you may have thought. If you look at the chart of copper futures ($COPPER) you'll see that, in October 2022, the price of copper was trading sideways, but, in November, its price rose and trended quite a bit higher. This would have been an indication of a strengthening economy.

CHART 1: COPPER CONTINUOUS FUTURES CONTRACTS. Copper prices have been rising since November 2022. Chart source: StockCharts.com. For illustrative purposes only.

High-Yield Bonds: Risk On Indicator

The higher the risk, the higher the yield. That's the premise behind high-yield bonds. In short, companies that are leveraged, smaller, or just starting to grow may not have the solid balance sheets that more established companies are likely to have. If the economy slows down, investors are likely to sell the high-yield bonds and pick up the safer U.S. Treasury bonds.

Why the flight to safety? It's because when the economy is sluggish, the companies that issue the high-yield bonds tend to find it difficult to service their debts. When the economy is expanding, the opposite happens—they tend to perform better.

The chart below of the Dow Jones Corporate Bond Index ($DJCB) shows that, since the end of October 2022, the index trended higher. Similar to copper prices, high-yield corporate bond activity was also indicating economic expansion. You'll see similar action in charts of high-yield bond exchange-traded funds (ETFs) such as iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYG) and SPDR Barclays High Yield Bond ETF (JNK).

CHART 2: HIGH-YIELD BONDS TRENDING HIGHER. The Dow Jones Corporate Bond Index ($DJCB) has been trending higher since end of October 2022.Chart source: StockCharts.com. For illustrative purposes only.

Small-Cap Stocks: They're Sensitive

Pull up a chart of the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (IWM) and you'll see similar price action (see chart 3). Since mid-October, small-cap stocks (the Russell 2000 index is made up of 2000 small companies) have been moving higher.

CHART 3: SMALL-CAP STOCKS TRENDING HIGHER. When the economy is expanding, small-cap stocks trend higher.Chart source: StockCharts.com. For illustrative purposes only.

Three's Company

If all three of these indicators are showing strength, you can expect the GDP number to be strong. There are times when the GDP number may not impact the markets, but, when inflation is a problem and the Fed is trying to curb it by raising interest rates, the GDP number tends to impact the markets.

This scenario is likely to play out in 2023, so it would be worth your while to set up a GDP Tracker ChartList. Want a live link to the charts used in this article? They're all right here.


Jayanthi Gopalakrishnan

Director, Site Content

StockCharts.com

 

Disclaimer: This blog is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as financial advice. The ideas and strategies should never be used without first assessing your own personal and financial situation, or without consulting a financial professional.

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Hotels: Occupancy Rate Down 6.2% Compared to Same Week in 2019

From CoStar: STR: MLK Day Leads to Slightly Lower US Weekly Hotel PerformanceWith the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, U.S. hotel performance came in slightly lower than the previous week, according to STR‘s latest data through Jan. 21.Jan. 15-21, 2023 …

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With the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, U.S. hotel performance came in slightly lower than the previous week, according to STR‘s latest data through Jan. 21.

Jan. 15-21, 2023 (percentage change from comparable week in 2019*):

Occupancy: 54.2% (-6.2%)
• Average daily rate (ADR): $140.16 (+11.3%)
• evenue per available room (RevPAR): $75.97 (+4.4%)

*Due to the pandemic impact, STR is measuring recovery against comparable time periods from 2019. Year-over-year comparisons will once again become standard after Q1.
emphasis added
The following graph shows the seasonal pattern for the hotel occupancy rate using the four-week average.

Click on graph for larger image.

The red line is for 2023, black is 2020, blue is the median, and dashed light blue is for 2022.  Dashed purple is 2019 (STR is comparing to a strong year for hotels).

The 4-week average of the occupancy rate is below the median rate for the previous 20 years (Blue), but this is the slow season - and some of the early year weakness might be related to the timing of the report.

Note: Y-axis doesn't start at zero to better show the seasonal change.

The 4-week average of the occupancy rate will increase seasonally over the next few months.

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American Express Numbers Show What Still Gets People to Spend Money

American Express stock jumped nearly 12% since earnings dropped.

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American Express stock jumped nearly 12% since earnings dropped.

Even though American Express  (AXP) - Get Free Report earnings announced Friday afternoon fell somewhat short of expectations for the quarter, shares still soared to highs unseen for many months due to a number of strong metrics -- quarterly revenue growth of 17%, plans to raise its dividend by 15% from 52 to 60 cents and an annual revenue that surpassed $50 billion for the first time ever.

At $52.9 billion, the latter is driven primarily by an increase in quarterly member spending. Last year, that number was at $42.4 billion. 

According to American Express Chairman and CEO Stephen J. Squeri, the increase can be attributed to higher numbers of millennials gaining in earning power and using their AmEx above other cards to tap into rewards as many approach milestones like marriage, career advancement, and homeownership.

"Millennial and Gen Z customers continue to be the largest drivers of our growth, representing over 60% of proprietary consumer card acquisitions in the quarter and for the full year," Squeri said in an earnings call discussing the results.

People Are Using Their AmEx Cards a Lot

The $52.9 billion number is up 25% from what was seen last quarter and reflects a number of different factors also having to do with post-pandemic spending.

"We ended 2022 with record revenues, which grew 25% from a year earlier, and earnings per share of $9.85, both well above the guidance that we provided when we introduced our long-term growth plan at the start of last year, despite a mixed economic environment," Squeri said.

AmEx further reported that 12.5 million new members signed up for cards in 2022 while existing members used their cards frequently. Fourth-quarter sales at AmEx's U.S. consumer services and commercial segments rose by a respective 23% and 15%.

But higher expenses also led to falling below analyst expectations. The fourth-quarter income of $1.57 billion, or $2.07 a share, is down from $1.72 billion ($2.18 a share) in the fourth quarter of 2021. FactSet analysts had predicted $2.23 a share.

"I'm not sure what that's really a function of right now -- whether it's a function of the economy or of confusion on where to advertise right now," Squeri told Yahoo Finance in reference to lower spending on the part of small business and digital advertisers. "We're going to watch that, but the consumer is really strong, travel bookings are up over 50% vs pre-pandemic."

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It's a Good Time to Be Tracking Credit Card Companies

Immediately after the earnings dropped, AmEx stock started soaring and was up nearly 12% at $175.24 on Friday afternoon. This is a high unseen in months -- the last peak occurred when, on September 12, shares were at $162.45. 

Whether due to or despite analyst threats of a looming recession, people have been using their credit cards very actively throughout the end of 2022.

When it posted its earnings earlier this week, Mastercard  (MA) - Get Free Report surpassed Wall Street expectations of $5.8 billion and $2.65 per share in fourth-quarter earnings. Visa  (V) - Get Free Report also saw revenue rise 11.8% to $7.94 billion in the same quarter. The numbers also reflect higher numbers of people traveling and using their credit cards in different countries.

"Visa's performance in the first quarter of 2023 reflects stable domestic volumes and transactions and a continued recovery of cross-border travel," outgoing CEO Al Kelly said of the results during a call with financial analysts.

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