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January 16, 2009

"Bullish on Emerging Markets Real Estate"

Knowledge@Wharton has an interview with Gary Garrabrant, CEO of Equity International, an investor in non-US real estate-related companies.
K@W: You referred to India, and of course this is as current a time as any to be thinking about political risk in India, considering the unprecedented terrorist attacks that have taken place there in recent times. There has also been a significant political backlash following those attacks. Is that likely to affect the way you think about your activities in India?

Garrabrant: It is a factor. We stay at the Taj Hotel and I recognize those images. It is really haunting and a terrible tragedy. And there may be a local linkage -- to what extent, we do not know. What it says to me is that anything can happen anywhere. We consider India to be a country that is characterized by non-violence and democracy and process, and so this is really unprecedented for India. For us, the bigger issue as an investor in India is finding the right partner. We continue to look for that partner.

K@W: What is your prognosis for the next 18 to 24 months?
Garrabrant: I think it is going to be a difficult period. I am very bearish on the U.S. I think the consumer is exhausted and overlevered and it is going to take some time to reverse that. We remain quite bullish about emerging markets and those areas which are seeing growth even on a diminished level. [I'm talking] about India, China and Brazil specifically. The growth of the middle class is a powerful trend. We are still selling homes in Mexico and Brazil as opposed to the developed economies. I think when we finally see a turn, likely sometime in 2010, it will begin in those markets.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports. Email the author at arun@ventureintelligence.in