REAL ESTATE - Emerging markets was the talk of the town at the Pension Real Estate Association Conference in San Francisco on March 8 and 9.

This idea was spelled out to all of the 480 attendees at the conference on countless occasions. One of these areas was emerging markets for potential investment strategies.

There was also a debate about what makes up some kind of definition of an emerging real estate manager. Another part of the conference was occupied by a talk about some possible emerging products and how they fit in the overall investment landscape.

Emerging market managers is also a hot topic with many US pension funds.

Charles Haase, investment officer at the California State Teachers Retirement System said: “Emerging managers can find investment opportunities that are below the radar screen of many of the larger real estate managers.”

CalSTRS is now in process of setting up some relationships with emerging managers. It put this strategy into its real estate investment plan for fiscal 2006. It defines these managers as those too small to have done business with CalSTRS in the past.

Townsend Group principal Micolyn Yalonis added: “There is no common definition in our industry for this kind of manager. Some people think it might be the number of assets under management or the limited amount of track record that a company might have.”