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Report: 5 Private Equity Real Estate Trends To Watch In 2016

National
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Accounting giant Ernst & Young published its Global Market Outlook 2016 report, peering into its crystal ball (we assume) to break down its predictions for private equity real estate. Here's a roundup of the major trends to follow through 2016.

1) Doors Opening For Foreign Cash

Proposed reforms in the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA) will allow foreign pension funds to invest twice as much in REITs, from 5% to 10%. The changes would further open the floodgates for foreign cash in real estate—an industry already buoyed by foreign funds.

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2) The China Effect

With Chinese investors becoming the biggest foreign buyers of US real estate in 2015, economic news from the People's Republic is all important to property in the US. (And most of that news hasn't been good lately.)

Ernst & Young calls a "hard landing" for China's economy the No. 1 risk for private equity real estate funds in 2016. Between the new year's stock slide and the oil slump, China looks like its skydiving without a parachute.

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3) Regulators Have Their Say

The SEC's Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations will continue to put major funds through compliance tests they started in late 2012. Fund managers need to make sure they dot all of the i's on the legal front to not end up paying billions in fines like HSBC, JP Morgan, et al.

M&As Continue Going Strong

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4) M&As Keep Going Strong

Last year was a record year for M&As, totaling $79.3B across 34 deals anchored by monster deals like the $12.2B Marriott-Starwood merger. Ernst & Young expects that to continue through 2016. With companies holding record amounts of dry powder, the momentum is there.

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5) Privatization

Along with more mergers, Ernst & Young expect more REITs to go private in 2016, agreeing with Barclays' Scott Schaevitz's comments late last year. The trend has already started, with Blackstone's $8B buyout —and subsequent privatization—of healthcare REIT BioMed last month.