What is your role with UBS Global Asset Management?
“I am responsible for a business which today manages around US $63 billion in real estate worldwide and services approximately 1,200 clients around the globe. A major plank of our business is to service our clients by having local acquisition, disposition and asset management teams, while in certain markets we have developed partnerships, such as the ones we have built up in Japan and China. The mission of our business is very simply to provide excellent investment performance and client service to our clients.”
The market is changing. Is the direction of your business changing too?
“We have a very global business; out of the $63 billion we manage, we have about $19 billion under management in the Americas, over $9 billion in APAC and over $23 billion in Europe, including Switzerland; the balance is allocated to indirect investment, which includes our global multi-manager and real estate securities businesses. We adopt a multi-sector approach; about 31% plus of our business is in office and 29% is in retail. We also have industrial assets and a very active multi-family business (22%) in North America and Switzerland.
“We are seeking to expand further our business in APAC, while recognizing that for the time being, Japan and China – where we already have successful partnerships – are likely to be the two major markets where we will certainly be looking to expand. In terms of what we want to do, our aim is to diversify our business further. For example, we already manage a substantial debt business in the US and have an involvement through our multi-manager business, but we would like to build that out further in the UK and the Eurozone.”
Are you active in those markets?
“In debt, we are active through a participation mortgage product that we already operate in the US and we are also active through our multi-manager business. We are currently working to develop debt strategies in the UK and continental Europe as well, because everybody recognizes that, particularly in the UK and continental Europe, there is going to be a big demand as banks retrench.
"In a broader strategy sense, debt is going to be important, our multi-manager business is growing quite rapidly and there is a wave of clients wishing to diversify globally. We have seen that one can and has to adapt one’s business. For instance, in Germany, where we have a substantial business, we are growing our special funds business as a result of regulatory changes.”
What differentiates you from your competitors?
“We are ranked second globally according to one or two major surveys. We have a strong global platform with around 390 people involved in the business and I think we are seen particularly as a strong core player. Obviously core has been and is likely to continue to be very sought-after. I think we can justifiably claim a pretty solid investment performance record in the majority of our strategies.
"An important differentiator is our partnerships; I am referring to our 12 year partnership with Mitsubishi Corporation in Japan, we also have a partnership in China, and we built our business in Germany through a partnership with Siemens. Furthermore, we are sensitive to the heightened governance and risk management demands of clients and I think our business reflects that.”
Are you thinking of expanding into Central and Eastern European markets?
“We have principally entered some of those markets through our German business. On the basis that you can’t do everything, we have chosen to focus on some of our core businesses, like those in the US, Switzerland and Japan. As for building out new platforms, we chose China because it fits with our desire to grow the APAC business.
"That is not at all to say that we have no interest in expanding into Central and Eastern Europe. Where we have partnerships, we are usually the fiduciary partner because the fiduciary business is something we understand. We always look for an operating partner that is particularly expert in a local market, but we supplement that by having our own local teams, which overall we think serves our clients best.”