UNITED STATES - ING Clarion Partners is tapping its in-house investment expertise and opening a regional investment office in Brazil for the first time.

Florencio Beccar, a managing director with the real estate manager, is adapting his talents again to head up the new operation, having previously established ING Real Estate's office in Italy and headed the firm's acquisition team in Spain.

ING Clarion believes the growth prospects in Brazil makes this a good time to be investing in the country as the economy has grown rapidly for most of the past decade and is predicted to expand at an average rate of 4% for at least the next five years.

"We are predicting that we will invest around $300m (€208m) of equity in the country over the next three years. With leverage we will have a total capitalization of $600m over the same time period," said Beccar.

ING Clarion is now in the process of raising capital for an investment fund in Brazil and is targeting institutional investor interest in the US and Europe.

The real estate manager is looking at investing in all of the four main property types but believes two kinds of real estate in particular are most attractive.

"We like the demographics for market rate apartments and retail," said Beccar.

"More jobs are being created and people have additional income to invest. This means there is a case for this kind of real estate to be created."

ING Clarion will be focusing initially on investing in new development projects as the country has little existing institutional quality real estate.

To achieve this, the real estate manager will look to team up with local development partners on the construction of new projects.

ING Clarion owns no real estate assets in Brazil at this time though it hopes to change this in the near future.

Long-term plans for staffing the new regional office are to have 20 people employed at the office within three years.