ASIA - ING Real Estate has charged its managing director for Singapore, Peter Wittendorp, with doubling assets under management in Asia to $3bn within two years.

Wittendorp, who adds the newly-created position of chief investment officer to his current role, will be responsible for all investment activities in the region as head of a nine-strong team.

The move reflects the firm’s optimism about a maturing market described by Investment Strategy Annual in January as “strongly positive”. ING is relying on the quality of its research and local knowledge of specific Asian markets to boost its competitive position.

“Growth in the number of products and clients brings the need for more acquisition power and coordination of investment activity across Asia,” said Robert Lie, CEO of ING Real Estate Management Asia.

“We have been building a strong organisation with a strong local presence that is geared up for further growth in Asia.”

Wittendorp’s regional expertise predates his move to ING Real Estate. He joined from ProLogis Europe, where he headed fund operations. A Dutch national, he was previously head of European and Asian fund operations for ABP, the Dutch civil servants’ pension fund.

ING is already active in eight Asian countries: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Korea. It will soon open an office in Japan.

In November the firm set up an $800m Seoul-based operation that will allow institutional investors to co-invest in Korean real estate. ING Real Estate will have a 15% shareholding in the company, set up with a 10-year USD400m loan from ING Wholesale Banking.