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Blackstone plans US$5B Asian RE fund; Hong Kong homes still the world's priciest

* Blackstone Group LP reportedly plans to launch a US$5 billion fund in the next 12 to 16 months to invest in Asian real estate, particularly in warehouses and shopping malls in China, India, Southeast Asia and Australia.

* A Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey's study of 406 global cities revealed that Hong Kong's residential market remained the most expensive worldwide for the seventh year in a row, the South China Morning Post reported.

Apartment costs in the city amounted to 18.1x more than the gross annual median income in the third quarter of 2016, according to the study. Sydney ranked behind Hong Kong with its residential properties costing 12.2x more than the median income in the city.

Australia

* Macquarie Bank equity analysts downgraded Westfield Corp.'s stock to "underperform" for the 2017 financial year, noting that the company is expected to have difficulty achieving earnings growth, The Australian reported.

* Godfrey Mantle, a hospitality businessman in Brisbane, is considering an IPO for his portfolio of restaurants and pubs, which include Jimmy's, Milano, Cafe East and the Pig 'n' Whistle pubs, The Australian Financial Review reported. The properties account for a majority of traffic at the Queen Street Mall, the shopping center with the second-highest traffic in the country next to Sydney's Pitt Street Mall.

* Charter Hall Group's Charter Hall Prime Office Fund and Keppel REIT secured Telstra as a long-term tenant for 30,000 square meters of office space at their 275 George Street and 69 Ann Street properties in Brisbane, the AFR reported. The contract will end in 2029.

* Savills Australia data showed that office rents for grade B office properties in Sydney's central business district increased 60% year over year in real terms in 2016, amid limited supply and strong demand, the AFR reported.

Hong Kong and China

* China Vanke Co. Ltd. formed the Banyan Tree China joint venture with Banyan Tree Holdings Ltd. to serve as a development and management platform for new hospitality, senior living and wellness projects in China. The partnership is expected to have initial paid-up capital worth not more than 2.00 billion Chinese yuan.

* MTR Corp. Ltd.'s sale-by-tender for a land parcel worth up to HK$9.8 billion near the Wong Chuk Hang station in Hong Kong attracted 39 expressions of interest, the South China Morning Post reported. China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd., New World Development Co. Ltd. and Wheelock and Co. Ltd. were among the interested parties.

* China Evergrande Group's 373.3 billion Chinese yuan of property sales in 2016 allowed it to surpass China Vanke for the first time as the top Chinese developer with the most sales, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. China Vanke's sales in the previous year amounted to 364.77 billion yuan.

* New World Development said New World China Land Ltd. seeks to list US$600.0 million of 4.75% guaranteed notes due 2027 on the Hong Kong bourse. The company applied for the listing of and permission to deal in the bonds, which is expected to be effective Jan. 24.

* CIFI Holdings (Group) Co. Ltd. expects the Hong Kong bourse to approve the listing of and permission to deal in US$285 million of its 5.5% senior notes due 2022 on Jan. 24.

* As many as 11 Chinese cities have reported land sales worth of over 5 billion yuan during the first 18 days of January, as Chinese property developers are still keen to acquire residential land sites in major cities, the 21st Century Business Herald reported.

Japan

* Japan Retail Fund Investment Corp. plans to acquire a trust beneficiary right in the G-Bldg. Tenjin Nishi-dori 01 property in Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture, from SOHGOH REAL ESTATE CO. LTD. for ¥4.85 billion. Japan Retail Fund will use cash on hand to fund the acquisition.

* Sumitomo Realty & Development Co. Ltd. completed work on the Sumitomo Realty Azabu-Juban Building, a 10-story office building in Mita 1-chome, Minato Ward, Tokyo.

Southeast Asia

* As scheduled, Yanlord Land Group Ltd.'s unit issued US$450.0 million in 5.875% senior notes due 2022 on Jan. 23 at an issue price of 100% of the principal amount. The bonds are expected to be listed on the Singaporean bourse Jan. 24, according to a release.

* UOL Group Ltd. said its subsidiary plans to acquire the 45 Amber Road property in Singapore from Sin Lian Huat Co. (Pte.) Ltd. for S$156.0 million, subject to certain conditions. The freehold asset has a land area of approximately 69,858 square feet.

* Eco World Development Group Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund Board agreed to form a joint venture for the development of 375 acres of land in Batu Kawan, Penang, Malaysia. Eco Horizon Sdn Bhd will build two townships on the prime site with a combined gross development value of approximately 7.76 billion Malaysian ringgit.

* Moody's said PT Lippo Karawaci Tbk's delayed sale of Siloam Hospitals Yogyakarta and Lippo Plaza Jogja in Indonesia is credit negative.

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The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific, Real Estate edition is updated by 6:30 a.m. Hong Kong time. Some external links may require a subscription. Articles and links are correct as of publication time.

Cam Nones, John Chan and Julie Zhu contributed to this report.