REAL ESTATE – Dutch pension giant ABP, at €201bn Europe’s largest pension fund, has announced a launch date and the key executives for its new Hong Kong office – revealing a real estate focus for the new office.

By January next year the firm wants to expand into Asia by opening the new Hong Kong office which will be run by Jeroen Schreur, former chief operating officer of ABP Investments in New York, who is currently setting up the Hong Kong operation.

Daan van Aert, senior portfolio manager real estate with ABP in the Netherlands, will also move to Hong Kong to look for opportunities in private real estate.

Robert Coomans, advisor to the board and head of alternative investments, said at a conference held in Hong Kong this week that the new office will mainly invest in Asian property assets and will look for opportunities in Asian infrastructure.

The Hong Kong office will not manage listed equity but rather will focus on private markets.

Also the new office will have the task to select and supervise fund managers for Asian equities.

In April, IPE reported that ABP had also considered Shanghai and Singapore, before deciding on Hong Kong.

Though it is unclear how much capital the fund wants to run from Hong Kong, chief investment officer Roderick Munsters said in an interview that he would be disappointed if it had not reached €1bn within five years.

"The approach is opportunity driven," said a spokesman for the fund, "hence there is no specific target amount for investments."

Also the fund said that over the course of 2007 "we would like to have 13 employees, nine of which local hires and four ex-pats".

It added: "We are looking for one senior portfolio manager for non-listed Asian real estate, two senior portfolio managers for Asian listed real estate, one analyst for listed Asian real estate, a senior portfolio manager infrastructure, an economist-strategist and one executive assistant-receptionist."

ABP already operates an office in New York, employing about 80 people.