The Biggest Investors in Real Estate

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, APG, and a U.S. insurance company are the asset class’s biggest spenders with more than $50 billion invested each, Preqin data show.

(Photo: John Taggart/Bloomberg)

(Photo: John Taggart/Bloomberg)

Fewer than 500 investors account for 84 percent of all investments in real estate, according to new data from industry tracker Preqin.

This “billion-dollar club” — institutional investors who allocate at least $1 billion to the asset class — currently invests a combined $2.53 trillion in real estate. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority leads, with an estimated $62.1 billion real estate portfolio, and Dutch pension manager APG comes second at $56.4 billion.

The New York Life Insurance Company rounds out the top three largest investors, with $55 billion committed. Insurers, in fact, accounted for 21 percent of the billion-dollar club, making them the second-largest group after public pension funds. In addition to New York Life, two others ranked among the top ten: Swiss Life, the sixth-biggest investor with $40.7 billion committed, and Italy’s Assicurazioni Generali, whose $32.3 billion allocation was the ninth largest.

European funds accounted for nearly half of the billion-dollar club and North American investors made up just over a third. After New York Life, the largest real estate investors in North America were Ivanhoé Cambridge — the real estate arm of Canadian pension Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec — and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. Only one U.S. pension fund managed to crack the top ten: the $358 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System, which has $31.2 billion invested in real estate.

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Overall, Preqin said 499 institutional investors boasted $1 billion-plus commitments to real estate, up from 442 a year ago. This sharp growth “perhaps reflects a trend toward inflation-hedging and non-correlated assets,” according to Tom Carr, Preqin’s head of real estate.

“We may see more investors position themselves in anticipation of a market shift in the coming months and embrace real estate investments further,” Carr said in a statement Thursday.

Recent fundraising figures, however, paint a less rosy picture for the asset class. According to Preqin, 47 real estate funds closed in the second quarter, having raised a combined $22 billion — the lowest quarterly total since 2013.

Real estate funds have secured about $59 billion through the first half of this year, tracking close behind the $61 billion managers had raised by mid-point 2017.