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February 12, 2014

(Much) more Chinese real estate money heading here

San Francisco Chronicle

Andrew S Ross

San Francisco's Kidder Mathews is partnering with a Chinese real estate consortium "to act as a bridge for Chinese business investment which wants to come to the Bay Area."

The partner in question is Tsinghua Real Estate CEO Chamber of Commerce - yes, that's its name - an association of 3,000 Chinese realtors with what appears to be a considerable amount of money to spend.

"Along with taking advantage of China's incredible economic growth, our members have gained vast experience in real estate development and other related fields," said Henry Xu, deputy secretary general of Tsinghua Real Estate. "Our members have also acquired experience and also abundant capital."

Founded 10 years ago at Beijing's Tsinghua University, the group is described as "a non-profit social organization and national industry association established under the guidance of China Real Estate Chamber of Commerce" and the university.

Tsinghua is no stranger to the Bay Area. Another real estate offshoot, Tsinghua University Science Park, is an investor in Innospring, a U.S.-China tech incubator in Silicon Valley, launched in 2012. Last month the university opened a separate X-Lab Silicon Valley Launchpad at Innospring "to provide a base for Tsinghua researchers, students, and entrepreneurs and embed them in InnoSpring's network of talent, investment, and ideas."

Few details of the partnership have been made public - the Chinese play their cards pretty close to their chest - but commercial and residential real estate in the Bay Area are on the menu. Retail and tech are among the sectors of interest, according to Skip Whitney, Kidder Mathews executive vice president and head of the firms' China Services group.

"There's high interest from China in real estate opportunities here in San Francisco specifically, and by extension, the entire Bay Area," he said.

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