ASIA - Merrill Lynch has closed its Asian Real Estate Opportunities Fund after raising $2.65bn for investments despite the turbulent economic climate.

The fund successfully raised capital from global investors, including pension funds, endowments, foundations and high-net-worth investors, and will now use the assets to primarily invest in Japan, South Korea, India and China but will also concentrate on the Australian and Southeast Asian markets.

Tim Grady, head of Merrill Lynch Pacific Rim Global Commercial Real Estate, said: "We see exceptional opportunities in Asian real estate over the medium and longer term. As a longstanding and leading real estate investor in the region, the Asian Real Estate Opportunity Fund is a natural extension of our business."

The fund plans to invest across a range of real estate investments, including direct real estate assets and real estate companies.

It is one of the largest funds to be raised this year for investments in the Asian property market, following LaSalle Investment Management's $3bn fund revealed in August and a $3.9bn fund from MGPA, the private equity real estate advisory company that focuses on investments in Europe and Asia.

Merrill Lynch now has $1.6trn (€1.2trn) in assets under management but the Asian Real Estate Opportunities Fund is its first fund to specialise in the Asian real estate market.