(Adds details on deal, background; adds Tokyo dateline)
By Junko Fujita
Tokyo, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Blackstone Group LP, the world’s largest private equity investor in real estate, said it will buy residential assets in Japan from General Electric Co (GE)’s property unit in a deal worth more than 190 billion yen ($1.6 billion), Japan’s largest property deal this year.
Blackstone will buy more than 10,000 apartment units in 200 properties in Japan’s largest cities including Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, the buyout fund said in a statement.
The deal comes as GE Capital Real Estate is retreating from its property investments globally as it shifts its focus to property lend
“This transaction supports our global strategy to reduce our equity book as we continue to build our global debt operations,” Francois Trausch, Chief Executive, Asia-Pacific at GE Capital Real Estate, said in a statement.
Blackstone earlier this year bought warehouses and development land in the U.S. from GE Real Estate. Last year Blackstone bought apartment buildings containing about 30,000 units located in the U.S. in a deal worth more than $2 billion.
Blackstone’s latest transaction is the largest property acquisition this year in Japan, topping Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte’s purchase of an office tower in the prime business district in Tokyo for about 170 billion yen.
The number of large property transactions has increased this year as Japan’s market is accelerating its recovery. In August, Japanese property developer Mori Trust bought Meguro Gajoen, a complex of office, retail and hotel facilities for 130 billion yen from U.S. buyout firm Lone Star Funds.
US dollar = 118.0100 Japanese yen Additional reporting by Amrutha Gayathri in Bangalore; Editing by Bernard Orr