Fortis Invest eyes Japan pension funds

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TOKYO, Nov 21 (Reuters) Fortis Investments, the global assets management arm of the Fortis group, is eyeing Japan's multi-billion dollar pension funds as key investors for its two new investment funds next year worth a combined 5 million, its real estate chief said on Wednesday.

Fortis Investments, which has about 130 billion euros (0 billion) in assets under management, will launch two new ''funds of funds'' -- funds that hold a portfolio of other investment funds -- focused on European and Asian property.

''We were very Europe-specific when we started two years ago but have diversified outside of Europe since,'' Bart Coenraads, chief investment officer and head of real estate for Fortis Investments, told Reuters at the sidelines of a conference in Tokyo.

The firm currently has two Europe-focused fund-of-funds vehicles and a third invested in Asian assets.

Coenraads said he was particularly keen to attract Japanese pension fund investors as their allocations for real estate were minuscule relative to other asset classes.

''A lot of Japanese pension funds already invested in Japanese real estate now see opportunities in Asia ex-Japan,'' he said, adding that Fortis Investments had already obtained a million commitment from a Japanese pension fund investor for an existing fund of funds focused on Asia ex-Japan property.

Japan's pension funds have traditionally parked their money in low-risk corporate and government bonds but are raising their investments in riskier assets such as equities and property to boost returns for the country's ageing population.

Fortis Investments has about 2.5 billion euros in global real estate exposure -- 25 percent of which is run through its fund-of-funds vehicles. The remaining 75 percent of its property-related holdings are in publicly traded securities.

''Many pension funds don't have the internal capabilities to get the sort of exposure that they can get by buying into a fund of funds,'' Coenraads said.

Coenraads plans to raise about 0 million for the new Asian fund of funds, about half of which will be invested in Japanese funds. The remaining portfolio will be invested in China, Malaysia, Vietnam, India and Singapore assets.

REUTERS PDT DB1244

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