GLOBAL - The National Pension Service (NPS) of Korea has hired The Townsend Group to invest $300m (€222m) of its capital opportunistically in the Americas.

The mandate will focus primarily on the US market, but also look at opportunities in Canada, Brazil and Mexico.

Townsend will look to recapitalise distressed funds, acquire interests in funds through the secondary market and enter into joint ventures and club investments, as opposed to commit to traditional real estate funds.

Anthony Frammartino, partner at Townsend, said this approach would enable it to deploy capital on behalf of NPS more quickly, given that fund managers are currently struggling to raise capital.

Frammartino said the NPS was "ahead of the game" in that it had recognised it was necessary to begin investing in the Americas sooner than later to capitalise on the opportunities there.

"Their thoughts are they will still be executing a portion through funds, but the way to be timely and get money invested in what they think is a cyclical opportunity is to be there now," he said.

Townsend will be targeting net returns in the mid-teens and invest across sectors.

Frammartino said 80-90% of the capital would be focused on the US, although this could be as much as 100% depending on what opportunities arise.

Townsend anticipates seeing the majority of distressed opportunities in the short term arising in the US residential sector.

However, Frammartino also said there would be opportunities to recapitalise real estate funds across the board launched between 2005 and 2007.

The US office sector was likely to become very interesting further down the line, Frammartino added.

The mandate comes soon after the NPS awarded a further $400m to European real estate markets through Rockspring Property Investment Managers.