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Canada pension board to co-invest in China rental housing

Hong Kong

CANADA Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) said on Thursday it will invest in China's rental housing sector with local property developer Longfor Group, with an initial targeted investment of US$817 million.

The companies will invest in China across major cities - Tier 1 and core Tier 2 - via developments, acquisition and master-lease of commercial assets to be converted into rental housing, CPPIB said in a statement.

Beijing-based Longfor, China's No. 9 home-builder by sales value, is one of the most aggressive players in the policy-supported rental housing sector, with a target to add 45,000 new units in the second half to its 20,000 unit portfolio. It expects operating income from rental housing business to be over 3 billion yuan (S$611.4 million) in 2020.

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The company was the first in the country to issue bonds to the public for the business, as Chinese developers have been rushing to raise funds, including via the securitisation and debt market, since the second half of last year for the low-return sector.

China announced plans in August to launch pilot programmes in 13 major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, to develop rental housing projects in an effort to ease a housing shortage.

Jimmy Phua, CPPIB's Asia head of real estate investments, said: "Demand for modern, quality rental housing among young professionals and new graduates in China is growing rapidly, and through this collaboration, we are pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this fast-growing sector of Chinese real estate and to further diversify our investments in the market."

CPPIB and Longfor first started collaborating in 2014 with investments in retail malls and mixed-use projects. REUTERS

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