Russia continues to be of little interest to real estate investors, while those drawn to Turkey are likely to be deterred by the recent political instability, delegates at the IP Real Estate Global Awards have been told.
Speaking at a panel on global investment strategies, Richard Kolb of the CAD202bn (€137bn) Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, said Russia was not of interest as an investment proposition and that he did not spend much time contemplating the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region as a whole.
Kolb, director of European real estate at the Canadian fund, instead noted that China was the “dominant” country in CPPIB’s emerging market property portfolio, although Brazil also heavily featured.
Explaining why the fund had decided to invest in the two countries, he noted that the countries would both have “a different type of economy” two decades from now.
Asked directly about the fund’s view of Russia and the CEE states, he added: “We aren’t, frankly, spending a lot of time thinking about them. We are not invested there at the moment, apart from indirect exposure through some logistics.
“Russia has never been on our list, and a lot of Central and Eastern European countries aren’t really on our list because of the lack of scale in them – perhaps the one exception to that would be Poland.”
Prior to the panel, Dietrich Heidtmann, global head of investor relations and capital markets at Axa Real Estate Investment Managers, noted a further emerging market, Turkey, had likely slipped in the eyes of investors due to the political upheaval facing prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“Various people were looking at Turkey, but, given the recent political instability, that really undermines the investor confidence,” he said. “But it was definitely a market people looked at for strong demographics.”
He also said recent results from KPMG’s Re-Invest survey showed that European interest was largely confined to Poland.
Kolb and Heidtmann’s view of CEE was shared by Alessandro Bronda, head of global real estate strategy at Zurich Insurance.
“Russia’s not on our list, and I agree with Richard that Poland could get onto it, but it is not on our list.”
He added that the insurer could not invest in every country, and that the region was simply not within its sights.
This was not to say that emerging markets were not of interest, he said, with Bronda listing Mexico and Chile among its activities.
“Chile is actually a very interesting market for us because it has been our best-performing real estate market over the last few years,” Bronda said.
“One of the reasons for Chile’s good performance is that the big investors aren’t there – so we are able to buy real estate that suits us.”