Only Brookfield comes close as CBRE GI takes global lead

More than €20bn gap separates two leading managers from following pack, reports Jane Roberts

CBRE Global Investors is officially crowned the world’s largest real estate investment manager, following its takeover of ING REIM last autumn, according to Towers Watson’s Top 50 real estate managers data, published in July.

With almost €77bn of assets under management worldwide, the US-firm is about €8bn ahead of second-placed Brookfield Asset Management. Once again, this pair are some distance in front of the first pack behind them, comprising UBS, RREEF, Morgan Stanley and AXA, which all have more than €40bn of gross assets under management.

Behind them, another pack of managers  each managing €30bn-€40bn of global assets includes the UK’s Aviva Investors, 12th largest with €31bn of assets under management, plus US managers Invesco, Blackstone, AEW, LaSalle and Principal Global. In global terms, some of the UK’s best-known institutional managers are bunched lower down, on either side of 30th place, each managing €10bn-€15bn of assets.

CBRE GI is not, however, Europe’s largest investment manager, an accolade still held by AXA, which manages almost €42bn of assets there, compared to CBRE GI’s €39bn. Despite its global property ambitions, AXA is still overwhelmingly a European business.

Europe’s top five unchanged

The European data, drawn from the sixth annual survey of fund managers carried out by Property Funds Research, shows that the top five spots in Europe have not changed, as ING REIM, second-placed last year, is now part of second-placed CBRE GI this time (see table). Aviva keeps third place, followed again by Aberdeen and IVG.

Most European managers, and all the top 25, were able to maintain or increase the value of their managed assets – no mean feat in such a difficult market, although only a handful increased their market share by a stand-out amount.

One that did was Orchard Street Investment Management, which expanded the value of its managed assets after winning the property funds of St James’s Place and a mandate from the BBC.

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Scottish Widows’ business was bulked up by €2.95bn when it took over the in-house funds of parent company Lloyds. Internos Real Investors also had a strong run, taking on two new funds and boosting its managed assets from €1.5bn to €2.1bn.

All three managers expanded at the expense of Invista REIM, one of last year’s largest casualties among European fund managers. In PFR’s survey last year, Invista still managed about €6bn of assets; that has shrunk to €960m (£749m) and the manager looks set to be taken over by Palmer Capital, now in 70th position and on the acquisitions trail after snapping up continental manager Middle Europe Investments in March.

Forum Partners shot up from 82nd to 48th, on the back of its focus on increasing property debt portfolios under management. DTZ Investment Management’s 93%  ‘jump’ in assets under management is due to new owner UGL reporting investment management and asset/property management figures together.

Shrinking European businesses include Morgan Stanley’s; the US bank fell nine places and its assets under management declined 36% from €8.4bn to €5.4bn.

Two more US private equity firms saw European assets shrink as they sold property this year: Beacon Capital Partners and Rockpoint Group. The biggest unknown is what will happen to RREEF after its sale to Guggenheim Partners fell through in June.