Sovereign Wealth Funds Still Interested in U.S. Real Estate

Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) have been closely watching the credit crisis evolve, according to a Deloitte LLP report.  The good news is that they haven’t entirely lost their taste for American commercial real estate.

Consider that two of 2008’s highest profile transactions were the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority’s $800 million acquisition of the iconic Chrysler Building and the Kuwait Investment Authority’s $3.95 billion joint venture to acquire the General Motors Building and three additional office towers.

Deloitte notes that SWFs are breaking with their “traditionally conservative, passive investment practices” to pursue interests in partnerships and joint ventures with American real estate firms and investors.  “This shift to broader and more active investment relationships may require that SWFs pay greater attention to increased political, media and public scrutiny, as well as their need for greater operational transparency,” according to the report.

SWFs will stick to the playbook of acquiring trophy and other Class A assets.  It’s unlikely that SWFs will focus on non-performing loans since that would require extensive involvement in the American legal system of foreclosure/bankruptcy in order to protect their rights as lenders.  The relative strength of the dollar — to the extent it is an indicator of future strengthening of the U.S. economy ahead of other countries — could be considered a way to protect the risk of any further currency decline in the home currencies of the SWFs.