UK fund manager Schroders is in the process of building a direct real estate investment team in Asia that will report to John Chantrell, the company's newly-appointed head of Asian real estate.

A company spokesperson said the UK fund manager is considering having team members based in the "major cities" in the region. He declined to provide further details on the hiring, including whether this would all be investment managers and analysts or would include sales people. He also could not comment on the team size, stating that the team building is just in the initial stage. 

But it is extremely likely that team members will be based in Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Japan and Australia. These are the markets Schroders has previously said have the most opportunities in real estate investments.

Schroders has an existing team (unspecified in number) investing in indirect real estate in Asia. It is not clear as of press time if this team will report to Chantrell.

Schroders announced Chantrell's appointment as its head of Asian real estate two days ago, stating that he assumed the newly created role in July and was responsible for real estate strategy and investments across the region, as well as developing the business. Based in Hong Kong, he reports to Duncan Owen, global head of real estate in London.

Prior to joining Schroders, Chantrell was head of capital transactions at Australia’s Novion Property Group.

He has 30 years of experience in property and has previously held a number of senior posts at companies such as Advance Funds Management and Colonial First State Global Asset Management.

Schroders said Chantrell has a strong track record as an active investor in Australia with responsibility for over A$8 billion ($5.98 billion) in transactions, as well as experience with investors in a number of large commercial real estate markets in the region including Tokyo, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and mainland China. 

Lieven Debruyne, chief executive officer for Asia Pacific at Schroders, said the expansion of the company's real estate division into Asia is a natural next step following the growth of the business unit in UK and Continental Europe.

"Existing clients and strategic relationships are looking to expand into Asian real estate and we see a growing number of potential clients seeking investment opportunities in the region," said Debruyne.

To date, the assets under management of Schroders' global real estate unit is £12 billion ($20 billion).