Global real estate assets under management reaches €4.1tn in 2021

Global real estate assets under management reaches €4.1tn in 2021

Total global real estate assets under management (AUM) hit a new record high of €4.1 trillion in 2021, surpassing the figure achieved at the end of 2020 when AUM reached €3.3 trillion, according to the Fund Manager Survey 2022, published by ANREV, INREV and NCREIF.

The survey highlights the continued strong appetite for real estate as an institutional asset class, with AUM more than doubling in size since 2015. There was growth across the board with the average AUM for each manager reaching €28.6 billion – up from €21.5 billion the previous year.  

Seemingly, ‘big is beautiful’ with 79% of this year’s total AUM concentrated within the top quartile by number (36 out of a full sample of 143 managers). Likewise, the top 10 global managers account for 41% of total AUM (up from 37% in 2020), with an average AUM of €169 billion. The combined AUM of these managers stands at €1.7 trillion, which is more than half of the 2020 global total. 

The latest results also underscore a significant stockpile of dry powder amounting to more than €214 billion of undrawn, committed cash at the end of 2021 – up from €195 billion in 2020. Again, the largest managers collectively account for the majority (€153 billion) of these undrawn capital commitments. 

The top five global fund managers

The top five global fund managers are Blackstone (1st – €419.3 billion), Brookfield (2nd – €221.1 billion), Prologis (3rd – €189.6 billion), PGIM (4th – €184.5 billion), and Nuveen (5th – €133.8 billion), all of which maintained their positions from the 2020 results.

The first four all reported AUMs of above €180 billion – with combined assets under management accounting for around 25% of the overall global total. 

Blackstone remained the only fund manager to feature in the top 10 rankings across all three main regions, as well as for global strategies.  

The remainder of the global top 10 is made up of MIM, (6th – €131.2 billion), CBRE Investment Management (7th – €112.9billion), AXA IM Alts (8th – €107.3 billion), UBS (9th – €100.9 billion) and GLP (10th – €93.7 billion) which was the only new entry into the top 10 in this year’s survey. 

In Europe, Blackstone (€85.7 billion) was in first place, followed by Swiss Life (2nd – €85.4 billion), AXA IM Alts (3rd – €82.7 billion), Union Investment (4th – €54.8 billion), and abrdn (5th – €48.5 billion). NN Investment Partners entered the European top 10 list for the first time in sixth position (€48.4 billion). The remaining positions are filled by Credit Suisse Asset Management (7th – €47.8 billion), DEKA Immobilien Investment GmbH (8th – €47.5 billion), PATRIZIA (9th – €46.4 billion), and UBS (10th – €45.3 billion). 

North American strategies overtake European strategies 

With 38% of total global AUM, North American strategies overtook European strategies (34%), as the most popular in 2021. Asia Pacific strategies were in third position (16%), followed closely by global strategies with 12%, which have seen an upsurge in interest. 

North American strategies account for the highest allocations globally, with the four biggest North American fund managers outstripping the total AUM of the ten biggest managers in Asia Pacific, and the four largest managers in Europe. 

The increased focus on global strategies marks an interesting shift in investor sentiment. This is echoed in the ANREV/INREV/NCREIF Capital Raising Survey, which reported a record €56 billion of capital raised for global real estate strategies in 2021, out of a total of €254 billion. The growing allocation to global strategies suggests investors and managers wish to take advantage of economies of scale, and the market may have reached a certain level of saturation beyond which there’s a need to seek diversification through new opportunities. 

Regional bias 

Most of the capital allocated to a specific region is managed by fund managers headquartered in that region. However, Blackstone featured in the top ten in all three regions, and UBS and Brookfield both featured in the top ten in their own regions – Europe and North America, respectively – as well as in Asia Pacific. GLP topped the list in Asia Pacific, largely the result of its focus on industrial/logistics – one of the most active sectors in the region.  

Non-listed takes the lion’s share  

Non-listed real estate vehicles – including funds, separate accounts, joint ventures, club deals, funds of funds and debt products – account for the largest proportion of AUM at 84.8% (€3.4 trillion). Other types of real estate – such as listed and derivatives – account for the remaining 15.2%. 

Non-listed real estate funds continue to be the preferred product globally, with 49.5 % (€2.0 trillion) of the total non-listed real estate AUM. This is followed by separate accounts investing directly, then JVs and club deals, and debt funds.  

The share of debt vehicles remained stable at around 9% of the total non-listed real estate AUM, highlighting the continued importance of debt products within real estate portfolios. 

Opportunistic M&A activity on the rise 

The surge in total global fund manager AUM is likely, in part at least, to be the result of continued consolidation in the market though this trend is slowing down across all regions. Around 21% of respondents were involved in mergers and 15% in acquisitions in 20212. However, the survey reveals a reduction in planned M&A in the future. Europe is the only region where respondents expect to be meaningfully involved in merger activities in 2022 (15% of the respondents), this number drops to only 3% when speaking about acquisition activities. 

Among the reasons for managers engaging in M&A in 2022, ‘opportunistic’ has risen in importance for the first time since the series began. However, ‘product’ – which featured consistently over the years – has dropped off the list. Of the other motivations, ‘scale’ ‘geography’ and ‘multi-rationale’ are all equally important for managers.  

Iryna Pylypchuk, INREV’s Director of Research and Market Information, said: ‘This is further robust evidence that real estate is a rapidly evolving and maturing asset class, in high demand. The large growth in fund manager AUM across the board reflects a continuous evolution of the global market and that real estate has its firm place in investor allocations, despite the legacy challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, heightened geopolitical risk and current economic headwinds.   

‘Non-listed vehicles account for the lion’s share of AUM, and the growing offer of access routes and products, such as growth of global strategies or allocations to non-listed real estate debt, highlights that they have become a vital part of institutional investors’ liability-matching tool kit and more. The survey also reveals a hefty slice of undrawn commitments which, while reflective of strong investor demand, will intensify the ongoing challenge for managers to deploy capital. This is especially pertinent as it looks like the industry may be exiting the era of capital growth and entering a new phase, focused on income return for value preservation and outperformance.’