ING Funds has launched ING Asia-Pacific Real Estate Fund and the ING European Real Estate Fund, adding to its roster of real estate products available to mutual fund investors in the US. The goal of both funds is to provide investors with high total return by investing at least 80% of its assets in real estate-related equities.

The two funds will be managed by a five-person team of portfolio managers at ING Clarion Real Estate Securities, which has around $20 billion in assets under management. ING Clarion is the real estate securities management arm of ING Real Estate.

ING Clarion has offices and securities analysts in Philadelphia, London, Tokyo, and Hong Kong and has been exclusively managing portfolios of real estate securities on behalf of institutional and individual investors since 1984.

"Real estate investment trusts (Reits) have unique characteristics that may make them attractive to both income-seeking investors as well as those looking for growth," says ING Funds head Shaun Mathews.

The ING Asia-Pacific Real Estate Fund is the latest fund available outside Asia, reflecting the strong demand for property related investments in this region among global investors.

Last month, the California Public EmployeesÆ Retirement System (Calpers), the biggest pension fund in the US, set aside $1 billion for investments in Asian real estate, raising its allocation to the regionÆs property sector by 50% to $3 billion.

HSH Real Estate, a unit of HSH Nordbank of Germany, and Singapore-based real estate investment and fund management firm Pacific Star Group jointly set up a fund that will invest in prime properties in Asia. HSH and Pacific Star are targeting to raise E500 million ($703 million) for the fund, which is expected to be raised from German institutions and private investors.