Firm of the Year

1. GLP

2. Greystar
3. Blackstone
China solar panels: GLP’s debut infrastructure investment

Following its $12 billion privatization, completed in January 2018, Singapore-headquartered GLP has solidified its standing as a global logistics and technology powerhouse. As of last June, the company’s fund management platform had amassed an AUM of $50 billion across real estate and private equity. Through ambitious outlays in 2018, GLP has managed to beat industry heavyweights like Blackstone and Starwood to win this title, a rare feat for an Asian shop.

GLP has raised more than $10 billion of new funds in the last 12 months or so. Major fundraising efforts were made in Europe, with the firm closing three ventures in 2018 and reaching $7 billion in AUM in the region. One was Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and QuadReal’s equity commitment of $1 billion each in equity to GLP Continental Europe Development Partners I. GLP also expanded from being only a real estate-focused firm, with the creation of a $2 billion China solar JV with Brookfield Asset Management and a $1.6 billion private equity vehicle.

 

Industry Figure of the Year

1. Ming Mei, GLP

2. Ken Caplan, Blackstone

3. François Trausch, Allianz Real Estate

Mei: made big bets on private equity, infrastructure and real estate in 2018

A little over a year since GLP’s $12 billion privatization led by Ming Mei and the chief executive has already planted the firm’s flag in new sectors and new markets, forging multi-billion-dollar relationships with new partners. What started as an Asia logistics firm with Chinese and Japanese assets in 2009, has grown into one of the world’s largest, with a 700 million square feet portfolio spanning every major region as well as South America.

Mei’s plans for GLP 2.0, where he sees the firm moving beyond a landlord to a provider of a “logistics ecosystem”, as he told PERE last year, has already started to take shape. A mega infrastructure debut came first, with the creation of a $2 billion China solar JV with Brookfield Asset Management. Just a few months later, a $1.6 billion private equity fund was raised that would fund companies employing technology to enhance efficiency in the logistics industry. It is anyone’s guess where Mei’s enterprising vision will take GLP next.

 

Deal of the Year

1. Brookfield’s purchase of General Growth Properties

2. Softbank’s $4.4bn investment into WeWork

3. Fortress Investment Group’s $3.3bn sale to Softbank

GGP: the deal for the mall giant split opinion but not votes

Brookfield’s doubling down on its investment in US mall giant General Growth Properties as e-commerce captures more and more consumer market share has split opinion. But PERE’s awards voters were unequivocal in their preference for this deal over the two transactions involving Japan’s Softbank.

Admiration for the $15 billion deal was justified by the Toronto-based giant’s strategy for the 125-mall business, involving the significant syndicating of its outlay – by last November, $6.7 billion of the value had been syphoned off to investors with portfolios finding their ways to specially constructed vehicles for institutions including Australia’s Future Fund. Beyond the technicals, Brookfield has been endorsed for positioning best-in-class malls against a wider malaise in the retail sector, a stance backed by its commitment of up to $1 billion a year for redeveloping the malls it wants to keep into the most relevant attractions possible for the consuming public. For that, it takes gold in this category.

 

Institutional Investor of the Year

1. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board

2. GIC

3. Softbank

Big in Japan: CPPIB made one of its largest capital outlays in the country in 2018

CPPIB edged GIC by the narrowest of margins to claim this title. The two groups helped one another climb to the highest echelon of global real estate investors in 2018 by partnering on several transactions. The Toronto-based public pension formed JVs with GIC to acquire an office tower in Seoul for $380 million and a portfolio of US student housing from Harrison Street Capital for $1 billion. Global diversification is the name of the game for CPPIB. Focused on direct investments and JVs, the firm has assets in North America, Europe and, increasingly, emerging Asian markets. Logistics was a focus in 2018, as CPPIB backed GLP funds in Europe and Japan. It also sold a majority stake in a Chennai, India IT park for C$250 million ($189 million; €168 million) and a 50 percent stake in an Ottawa office building for C$240 million.

 

Capital Raise of the Year

1. Brookfield Strategic Real Estate Partners III

2. GPIF separate account

3. Landmark Real Estate Fund VIII

Toronto: headquarters for Brookfield Asset Management

Brookfield took this category in a runaway for its Strategic Real Estate Partners III fund. The vehicle zoomed past its $10 billion target en route to a $15 billion final close in early 2019 making it the third highest real estate fund closing ever. This is Brookfield’s second win in this category in three years, with BSREP III’s predecessor, BSREP II, taking the title in 2016. Last year, the firm’s Real Estate Finance Partners V was runner up to Starwood’s Opportunity Fund XI Global which had a final close on $7.6 billion. Launched in 2017, BSREP III hit its first close in February 2018 on $7 billion. A month later it reached $9 billion and climbed steadily from there. PERE understands that $1.5 billion, or 10 percent, of the fund’s final close came from high-net worth investors, a possible harbinger of future fundraising as more top managers target individuals.

 

Indirect Firm of the Year

1. CBRE GIP

2. StepStone Real Estate

3. Madison International Realty

Gleeson: his platform stood out for its GPIF mandate win

Madison International Realty could well feel aggrieved by losing out in its bid for this honor to the indirect business of LA-based manager CBRE Global Investors, given both firms can point to a major transaction they shared in Spain – the joint acquisition of a portfolio of 6,458 homes in a deal valued at €870 million from Madrid-based manager Azora. But CBRE GIP stood alone in its capture of the first international real estate mandate of the world’s largest and currently most coveted institutional investor, Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund. The platform, led by CEO and CIO Ian Gleeson, will be responsible for deploying the first equity for the $1.4 trillion investor. All parties remain quiet about the size of the mandate, although certain sources believe it could ultimately extend to as much as $6 billion. A contract as hefty as that is hard to compete with.

 

Alternatives Investor of the Year

1. Greystar Real Estate Partners

2. Brookfield Asset Management

3. Harrison Street Real Estate Capital

Privatizing education: Greystar won primarily for its take-private of student accommodation REIT Education Realty Trust

Greystar won this award essentially for capturing the equivalent of half the US student accommodation deal volume of 2017 in one deal. In June 2018, the firm purchased Education Realty Trust, one of the nation’s largest developers, owners and managers of student housing in a deal valued at $4.6 billion. For that, it captured 84 assets across 47 universities, catapulting the business into being the second largest owner of student accommodation in the country. Greystar is also the third-largest owner of student housing in the UK through its ownership of the Chapter portfolio, a London-based collection of assets. The firm originally invested in Chapter with Canada’s Public Sector Investment Board but recapitalized it last year by selling a 40 percent stake to German insurance giant Allianz in a deal valuing the portfolio at £1.5 billion ($1.93 billion; €1.71 billion).

 

Office Investor of the Year

1. LaSalle Investment Management

2. Gaw Capital Partners

3. Jamestown Properties

Plumtree picking: London deal captured imagination

It takes something special to outdo the firms behind the transformation and sale of Beijing’s PCP building, or the record-breaking single asset sale of New York’s Chelsea Market. Chicago-based LaSalle Investment Management did that, not via exits like those deals, but by being the purchaser in of one of London’s biggest ever single asset transactions, Plumtree Court; a £1.2 billion ($1.6 billion; €1.4 billion) deal. The 830,000-square-foot office, let to Goldman Sachs for its European headquarters for 25 years, was considered a rare opportunity to capture such a large, prime property in one of the world’s most competitive markets.

 

Retail Investor of the Year

1. Brookfield Asset Management

2. Gaw Capital Partners

3. Blackstone

Ala Moana Center: one of the mall properties Brookfield acquired in the GGP buyout

Brookfield’s award-clinching deal originated in 2017 when Brookfield Property Partners, its publicly listed vehicle, made an unsolicited offer to Chicago-based REIT GGP. Owning a 34 percent stake in the trust from a 2013 transaction, Brookfield floated a half-cash, half-equity proposal for the remaining shares of the 126-property portfolio. GGP declined. Brookfield persisted and ultimately got GGP to agree to a cash-and-stock deal valuing the REIT at $15.3 billion. Since the deal closed, Brookfield has syndicated $6.7 billion of the assets to various JV partners.

 

Logistics Investor of the Year

1. GLP

2. Blackstone

3. Prologis

China expansion: a GLP property in Ningbo

Aggressive expansion, post its privatization, saw GLP take on new markets and investment strategies across the risk and return Spectrum. In Europe, the firm closed three ventures in the core and opportunistic space, which, when fully invested, will take its total AUM in the continent to $7 billion. It also announced the formation of a €2 billion GLP Continental Europe Development Partners I vehicle with CPPIB and QuadReal. In China, GLP launched a value-add strategy with two back-to-back funds with a total AUM of $4 billion. The firm also made its India debut by establishing a partnership with IndoSpace.

 

Residential Investor of the Year

1. Greystar Real Estate Partners

2. Lendlease

3. Rockpoint Group

Up for rent: Greystar’s The Chelsea Apartments in New York City

Greystar closed the biggest rental housing deal of the year when it acquired the Education Realty Trust for $4.6 billion then took it private, held a $1.35 billion first close on its 10th US multifamily value-add fund, closed a China-focused vehicle on $450 million, and built its pipeline in Europe and Mexico. With close to half a million units and beds worldwide, Greystar covers the gamut of rental housing, owning and operating student and senior living, affordable, market-rate, corporate, high-rise and mixed-use assets.

Hotels and Leisure Investor of the Year

1. Starwood Capital

2. Henderson Park

3. CBRE GIP

London hospitality: Starwood sold The Principal in 2018

Starwood Capital secured the honor by executing the $1.1 billion exit of a collection of topflight UK hotels. It also bought a select-service portfolio of assets in the US midwest and south for $270 million. Starwood capitalized on the strong demand for UK hotels by selling 14 of the country’s best-known properties to France’s Foncière des Régions. The portfolio consisted of 2,638 rooms in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, York, Oxford and Leeds, with marquee assets such as The Principal London, a five-star hotel once known as Hotel Russell.