April Mo, The China Post
Investec Taiwan Ltd, the property consultant firm with “the best reputation in Taiwan,” announced yesterday its merger with global real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), forming a full Taiwan subsidiary of JLL to be headed by former Investec president Calvin Wang. “It’s a moment of history for us,” said Gerry Kipling, CEO of Jones Lang LaSalle Asia. New president Wang said “it feels like a marriage.” The merger will bring Investec under the wings of JLL, a firm that claims to have “the strongest real estate platform in the world.” Although officials were evasive about the value of the merger, they did say that JLL was involved in investments and transactions worth over US$21.7 billion last year. “Taiwan’s economic structure is currently undergoing several major changes,” Wang was quoted as saying in a press release.”I expect this situation will benefit international firms interested in investing in the local real estate sector.” “The new Jones Lang LaSalle Taiwan office will be an excellent platform to execute these opportunities,” said Wang. Indeed, the downward trend of the real estate market in Taipei has been as noticeable as the general economic depression.
Office market vacancy rates have, in general, steadily increased since the first quarter. Of the four main office districts, the Chunghsiao/JenAi area has the highest second quarter vacancy rate of 13.13 percent. That is an increase from 7.46 percent in the first quarter. As a result of the slowing real estate market, rental prices have gone down and “it’s possible that property owners will have to work harder to find tenants,” said Wang. This is just as well for foreign businesses interested in buying cheaper properties in their efforts to globalize. This globalization, as well as the anticipation of Taiwan’s entry into the WTO, will result in great business opportunities, according to Kipling. Although neither Kipling nor Wang mentioned specific clients who are interested in or have plans to invest in Taiwan real estate, they asserted that now is “an appropriate time to join forces.” “Today clients expect us to have full global capability,” said Kipling. JLL chose Taiwan, he said, because it is a strategic market. Another prominent global real estate firm in Taiwan, Colliers Jardine, was able to provide specifics on foreign interest in real estate here. According to managing director Dr. Borling Hwang, telemarketing companies in particular still have confidence and interest in establishing operations in Taiwan. But why Taiwan in particular when real estate prices in the whole Asia-Pacific region are becoming increasingly competitive? “Investors are attracted to Taiwan more than, say, China because Taiwan’s economic laws are more open and transparent,” said Dr. Hwang, noting that China’s regulations are more strict and given to sudden alterations.