According to a report by property consultancy Cushman & Wakefield. Private equity investments in real estate rose 40% year-on-year in the quarter to March at Rs 3,840 crore. Of this,48% orRs 1,870 crore went into the residential segment. The retail real estate segment witnessed the second highest investment, accounting for 26% of total investments in the quarter since 2008 on the back of a single investment, where Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC bought the Viviana Mall in Mumbai from Sheth Developers for Rs 1,000 crore. The commercial office segment recorded total investment of Rs 470 crore again in just one transaction where Blackstone invested in Salarpuria Sattva group's project in Knowledge City in Hyderabad. In 2015, private equity investments from foreign as well as domestic funds in Indian real estate grew 72% over the previous year to Rs 25,680 crore, the highest since the peak of 2008. In 2015, 70% of the total investments went to the residential segment, followed by the commercial segment at 21%. In the quarter to March 2016, investments in Mumbai increased 12 times from the corresponding quarter of the previous year to 44% (Rs 1,710 crore) of total investments. This was followed by Hyderabad, which got a 19% share with investments of Rs 720 crore. The Delhi-NCR region got 12.5% of the investments at Rs 480 crore, though investments here were only in the residential space. "Domestic funds have continued to invest and focus primarily on the residential asset class as developers raised funds to meet their growing funding needs for working capital, construction financing and refinancing of loans," said Sanjay Dutt, managing director-India at Cushman & Wakefield. Dutt pointed out that the investments are being made mostly at the special purpose vehicle (SPV) level, amid a slowdown in residential sales over the past few years. Some of the large foreign PE funds such as Blackstone, GIC and Xander have sought to diversify their investment portfolios in India and are venturing towards the retail, mixed-use and hospitality segments apart from investments going into commercial and residential segments. "This could be attributed to several opportunities arising across India wherein developers have been trying to raise capital by monetising their distressed or noncore assets to reduce the high debt levels," he said. The total number of deals closed during the March quarter increased 13% to 17 from 15 in the corresponding quarter of 2015. The average deal size increased 23% to Rs 230 crore. But unlike the year-ago quarter that saw investments only in residential assets, the quarter to March 2016 witnessed investments across asset classes. In the residential space, financial services firm IIFL invested Rs 500 crore with Aristo Realtors In Mumbai through a structured debt transaction. KKR India Asset Finance put in Rs 150 crore with Sunteck Realty in Mumbai. Dutt said the SPV level route continues to be the most preferred by domestic as well as foreign PE funds. "However, it is observed that joint venture partnerships and strategic alliances route have picked up over the past two years,wherein more foreign PE funds, pension funds and global financial institutions have entered into such partnerships with their Indian counterparts and real estate developers," he said. In the last few quarters, funds dedicated to specific asset classes have been set up through partnerships between builders and funds to invest in income generating commercial and residential assets besides the warehousing sector.