Principal Hires Koh, Mittag in Asia Real Estate Push

Principal Financial Group Inc., the seller of life insurance and retirement products, hired two portfolio managers as part of a push into property bets in Asia.

Shern-Ling Koh and Julian Mittag will be based in Singapore, joining two members of the global real estate property securities team already there, Jaime Naig, a spokeswoman for the insurer, said in a telephone interview yesterday. There are also offices in Sydney, London and Chicago for the group, which expands to 13 with the additions.

“Given the growth and wide range of distinct markets in Asia, adding portfolio management depth allows our team to further evolve alongside the region,” Kelly Rush, chief investment officer of global real estate securities at Principal’s property unit, said in a statement.

Principal’s asset-management firm has boosted investments in real estate and commercial mortgages as property values rise and the economy recovers. Principal Real Estate Investors managed or subadvised $47.8 billion in commercial real estate assets as of Sept. 30, up from $44.8 billion in 2012, Naig said.

Koh most recently was chief executive officer of OSK International Asset Management. He was previously an investment analyst at Fidelity International Ltd. Mittag joins from SEB Asset Management, where he was an Asia real estate portfolio manager focusing on stocks.

Principal gained 0.1 percent to $49.04 in New York yesterday. The Des Moines, Iowa-based insurer advanced 73 percent last year, beating the 45 percent gain of the 21-company Standard & Poor’s 500 Insurance Index.

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