MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-The Hong Kong market is currently thestrongest in the Asia-Pacific, while Japan is the most sluggish,according to Heitman LLC’s lead region portfolio manager JohnWhite. He was appointed by the company recently to oversee thefirms real estate securities business, and is based here.

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White is working collaboratively with Chicago-based Tim Pire,who leads the company’s North American portfolio management team,and London-based Mark Abramson, lead portfolio manager in Europe.White was formerly co-head of real estate securities for theChallenger Financial Services Group. “John has worked alongside ourportfolio management teams over the past several years as part ofan alliance,” said Maury Tognarelli, CEO, in a statement.

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In an interview, White tells GlobeSt.com that while the US andinternational investment has shied away from Asia recently, fearinga bubble, he’s still positive on the region. “I think there’s anarm wrestle going on between people who see a double-dip recessioncoming, and those who just see flat growth for now. It’s quitenatural for investment to pull out of growth markets when theeconomic outlook is dicey. This has manifested itself in pricingthroughout Asia. But I think we’ll see in a year or so the upsideof this region.”

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He says his rankings of the region would put Hong Kong as asolid buy. “They’ve been forced to keep interest rates low, andyou’re seeing a pretty sustained recover in residential, office andretail prices,” White says.

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China is a close second, he says, as the government is workinghard to stabilize the growth rate. “There are two camps, those thatthink that China is imbalanced and those that don’t. There areconcerns with capacity issues, wages and infrastructure spending,”White says.

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Australia and Singapore are also doing well, he says, withSingapore’s GDP at a “crazy” number near 18% but hard-to-findvalue, and Australia raising interest rates. White terms Japan as“sluggish,” with supply still coming online from the boom a fewyears ago.

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“The next legs of growth will be the issuance of IPOs orfollow-on offerings,” White says. “We are seeing some come out ofMalaysia. There’s a few lined up in Australia, but the pricing justisn’t there for it to happen this year.”

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