CBC Group establishes new fund to meet China's booming life sciences real estate demand
Demand for life science real estate is surging in China — and one of Asia’s largest investment groups is rising to the call.
CBC Group — the startup engine that recently lured in Merck’s former R&D chief Roger Perlmutter — is joining forces with Netherlands Pension provider APG Asset Management to launch a new Asia-Pacific healthcare platform and China-focused life science venture.
The fund, dubbed CBC China Life Science Infrastructure Venture (CLSIV), completed a first close of $500 million to provide “best-in-class facilities” for research in China. CBC describes it as the vehicle by which the platform, CBC Healthcare Infrastructure Platform (CBC HIP), will operate.
“In China, we will witness healthcare expenditure double to RMB 13 trillion by 2026,” Hans Kang, CEO of CBC HIP, said in a statement. “We are excited to become the first mover in this space in China which is the most in-demand life science market globally and represents a multi-billion-dollar market opportunity.”
There’s no doubt that the demand is there. According to a recent report by the commercial real estate firm CBRE, new Shanghai leases by pharma and life sciences companies rose by 9.7% in 2020, making the industry the fifth largest driver of leasing demand. Large enterprises from general pharmaceuticals and medical equipment accounted for 32.3% and 30.2% of new leases signed in 2020, the firm reports.
Most of these companies are foreign, with 62.7% of the pharma companies in Shanghai based outside of China. CBRE partially attributed this to some of the world’s top contract research organizations (CROs) setting up shop in Shanghai.
“With aging populations and an ever-changing global environment, healthcare is an increasingly important sector for economies around the world and nowhere is this more so than in China where the advancement of healthcare and the development of the life sciences sector is a key objective for the country,” APG’s head of Asia-Pacific real estate Graeme Torre said in the statement.
Over in the US, life sciences real estate is getting harder and harder to come by in some of the country’s busiest hubs. Investor-owned lab space in the US totals just 150 million square feet, equivalent in size to the investor-owned downtown Chicago office market, according to a recent report by JLL. Boston’s in the lead in terms of development — however, nearly all the new space expected to open up this year is pre-leased, as well as roughly half of the space coming next year, leading some companies to set down roots in new areas.
CBC says CLSIV has already secured land to develop nearly 1 million square meters of life science facilities in Shanghai, and plans to target other biotech hubs in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan and Chengdu.