ChinaSF Sets Sights on Third Office in Guangzhou
By Andrew S. Ross July 31, 2014
While California, the world’s ninth-largest economy, is still looking to have one trade and investment office in China, San Francisco is planning on No. 3.
ChinaSF, which already has offices in Beijing and Shanghai, has its sights set on Guangzhou, a megacity of 41 million people, which is also the capital of the country’s most economically open and robust region, Guangdong province.
“It’s the next logical step,” said Darlene Chiu Bryant, executive director of the public-private agency. “Everybody goes to Shanghai because it’s the financial center, then Beijing, the nation’s capital. Step three for us is Guangzhou because it’s the entrepreneurial center, and it’s the hometown for many San Francisco residents.”
But ChinaSF is not there yet, despite Mayor Ed Leeletting slip the news at an Asia Society dinner last week. “We’re looking for partners and also funding,” said Chiu, who estimated the cost of a third office between $150,000 and $180,000 for the first year alone.
Since its inception in November 2008, ChinaSF has been instrumental in getting 13 Chinese companies to open branches in San Francisco and the Bay Area. The agency has been financed primarily by the private San Francisco Center for Economic Development and the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. ChinaSF’s Beijing office space is paid for by the Hina Group, a Chinese investment banking and private-equity firm with an office in Silicon Valley.
A more immediate order of business for Bryant is next month’s SFChina trip to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. Bryant said local executives in the energy efficiency field are welcome to join the delegation, which will be signing a memorandum of understanding to develop joint projects with China’s state-run National Energy Conservation Center.
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, which took a hammering in the commercial real estate market in recent years, is investing $500 million in a fund focusing on what it calls “technology advantaged properties in the United States.”
The fund, called TechCore LLC, is looking to buy “data centers, corporate campuses for technology tenants. and life science properties located in core metropolitan cities throughout the nation,” CalPERS said on Wednesday.
CalPERS, with $235 billion in assets, is starting the fund with Menlo Park’s GI Partners, which will be investing CalPERS money.
“This partnership represents the next generation of innovative investments to come in core real estate that is wired and ready to support the technology,” CalPERS CIO Joe Dear said in a statement.
CalPERS has worked with GI Partners in the past, having placed $3.4 billion with the firm, which invests in asset-backed IT and other properties in North America and western Europe.
In January, GI Partners invested $250 million in Oakland’s Waypoint Real Estate Group, which buys, renovates and rents out foreclosed single-family homes in the eastern Bay Area and other regions hard hit by the mortgage meltdown.
Up to now, the firm’s investments have generated handsome returns for CalPERS, unlike other real estate investments the nation’s largest public pension fund would rather forget.
“The TechCore investments will have core qualities of high occupancy, strong cash yield, quality tenancy, strong demand and long-term leases,” said Brad Pacheco, a CalPERS spokesman.
Legal brief: Besides the plethora of investment banks and other hand-holders, here’s one local firm that’s relishingFacebook‘s imminent IPO: Facebook’s lawyers.
Fenwick & West, headquartered in Mountain View, is due $2.6 million in fees, according to an SEC filing dug up byAmerican Law Daily. “The estimated fees are a rough approximation and not a precise tabulation of invoices related to the myriad legal costs in bringing a company public,” the publication notes.
That’s on top of the fees Fenwick & West earned for its services on Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition ofInstagram, the $550 million purchase of a patent portfolio from Microsoft and the $200 million investment in Facebook by Russia’sDigital Sky Technologies, among other deals.