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GIC Real Estate president headlines USD speaker series

One of the premier international figures in the real estate world will stop in San Diego on Tuesday for a rare U.S. public speaking engagement at the University of San Diego.

Seek Ngee Huat, the president of GIC Real Estate, is the featured guest for Breakfast at the BMC, the speaker series hosted by USD’s Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate.

GIC Real Estate is one of the top 10 global real estate investment firms, a subsidiary of the Government of Singapore Investment Corp., which manages Singapore’s foreign reserves. GIC manages more than $100 billion in funds; its real estate arm has more than 200 separate investments in more than 30 countries, according to the GIC Web site.

Seek “has a global perspective on the business of investing and owning real estate, a scope and scale that few investors in the world see and participate and direct,” said Barbara Cambon, managing partner at Snowcreek Management Co., who will moderate the event.

Cambon, a member of the Burnham-Moores Center executive committee, was the one who asked Seek to come to campus during one of his U.S. visits.

“He just has a wealth of experience that I am so pleased that he is willing to share with the group at USD,” said Cambon, who met Seek in the mid-1990s, while he was working in the private sector in Australia. “I’ve been asking him to speak at our annual conference for years, and it’s always at the same time as Chinese New Year.”

The Burnham-Moores Center announced last week that the event’s entrance fee had been lowered from $100 to $25 due to sponsor support.

“We were pleased (to be able to lower the price), especially at a time like this,” said Mark Riedy, the center's executive director. “To have a chance to hear somebody like this speak, take an hour to talk about what is on his mind and how he views the U.S. economy and how he views San Diego is just priceless.”

The center wants Breakfast at the BMC to be known for coveted speakers such as Seek, who seldom makes public appearances and frequently declines interviews. The speaker series launched last year, with billionaire philanthropist Ernest Rady and CB Richard Ellis chief executive Brett White gracing the program. Afterwards, speakers meet with the center’s graduate students for additional questions in a more private setting.

“They just rave about it,” Riedy said, referring to a 90-minute session students had last year with Rady. “For graduate students it will be a lifelong memory.”

Organizers hope to eventually hold the breakfast event three times a year, working with speakers’ availability.

Tuesday’s event, held at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice on the USD campus, is open to the public. For more information, visit www.usdrealestate.com.

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