Hong Kong-listed ESR Cayman—a warehouse developer backed by investors including Warburg Pincus and Singapore tycoon John Lim—is building a $1.5 billion logistics park in Osaka, Japan in the next few years to the tap the growing demand from e-commerce players and logistics companies.
To be built on a site covering more than 500,000 square meters in Kawanishi City, about 5 kilometers north of the Osaka Itami Airport, the ESR Kawanishi Distribution Center will be developed in two phases. The first phase will comprise two six-story blocks with a combined gross floor area of almost 200,000 square meters that’s expected to be completed by December 2024. Two additional buildings will be constructed in the second phase of development from 2025 onwards.
“This is an extensive master plan that will help fulfill the growing demand for large-scale, cutting-edge logistics space in Greater Osaka, while enabling the area to reinforce its leading position as a global logistics hub,” Stuart Gibson, cofounder and co-CEO of ESR Cayman, said in a statement. “This development also helps unleash the full potential value of the site and benefit the long-term development of the area.”
Osaka is among the fastest growing logistics markets in Japan, with vacancy rates of warehouses in the area at about 1%, the lowest since 2017, ESR said, citing data from property consultant Cushman & Wakefield. The rise of e-commerce and the increasing investments by companies to automate their logistics operations and digitalize their supply chains are among the factors driving unprecedented demand for warehouse space in the country.
This bodes well for existing ESR facilities in the Greater Osaka Metropolitan area. For instance, the ESR Amagasaki Distribution Centre (the largest in Asia Pacific with almost 390,000 square meters of space) is currently 98% leased to a diverse tenant base including e-commerce players.
To capture this robust demand, ESR Cayman—which completed its acquisition of Singapore’s ARA Asset Management in January in a blockbuster deal that transformed the company into Asia’s largest real estate management platform with assets under management of over $140 billion—has been bulking up on logistics facilities, data centers and other new economy assets across the region. Last month, it bought a portfolio of 11 warehouses with a gross floor area of 550,000 square meters in the largest such transaction in the greater Shanghai area.
ESR—which also counts Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com and Singapore billionaire Chew Gek Khim’s Straits Trading as major shareholders—was among the most active investors in logistics properties in 2021. The company stitched together more than $10 billion worth of deals last year, including the purchase in April of a portfolio of warehouses across Australia from Blackstone for A$3.8 billion ($2.8 billion). Global investors poured a record $48 billion of capital into logistics investments in Asia Pacific last year, compared with $32 billion in 2020, JLL said in a report published last month.