Firm of the Year
1. Starwood Capital Group
2. Brookfield Asset Management
In 2018, Starwood Capital was a net seller, realizing nearly $8 billion in gross proceeds from global investments. These include The Principal Hotel Company assets, a portfolio of Scandinavian properties, a US suburban office portfolio, the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort and 21,000 multifamily units across the US. The firm also committed more than $2 billion in equity during the year, acquiring a North Carolina multifamily portfolio, a UK Hilton portfolio, select-service hotels across the south and midwest US and a 62-acre waterside site in East London.
On the fundraising front, February marked the final close of Starwood’s largest-ever fund, the $7.6 billion Starwood Global Opportunity Fund XI. With more than $60 billion in assets under management, Starwood once again shows it competes in the top tier of private equity real estate firms.
Industry Figure of the Year
1. Bob Faith, Greystar
2. Christopher Merrill, Harrison Street
3. Brian Kingston, Brookfield Asset Management
Bob Faith founded America’s largest operator of apartments Greystar Real Estate Partners in 1993 with the vision of a fully integrated, institutional-grade business specializing in rental housing. Under Faith’s leadership, Greystar now celebrates its 25th anniversary, exhibiting growth in the form of its now $32 billion assets under management. The firm holds more than 480,000 rental units in over 150 markets worldwide.
Faith also led Greystar in this year’s PERE North America deal of the year winner – the $4.6 billion privatization of student housing REIT Education Realty, which followed the the $4.4 billion acquisition of listed REIT Monogram Residential alongside APG Asset Management affiliates, sovereign wealth fund GIC and Canadian investor Ivanhoé Cambridge in 2017. Outside of growing Greystar, Faith has made philanthropy a priority, establishing Greystar Giving in 2010. The company-wide philanthropic effort, which partners with non-profit organizations, has raised more than $2 million.
Deal of the Year
1. Greystar’s $4.6bn purchase of Education Realty Trust
2. Brookfield’s $15bn purchase of General Growth Properties
3. Blackstone’s acquisition of Gramercy Property Trust
The Charleston, South Carolina-based Greystar Real Estate Partners acquired listed student housing REIT Education Realty Trust in June’s headline $4.6 billion take-private merger. In one of the most notable transactions of the year, Greystar seeded its first dedicated student housing vehicle, gained access to a specialized student housing team and expanded its portfolio to become the second-largest student housing owner in the US. The all-cash deal was conducted through the firm’s newly established Greystar Student Housing Growth and Income Fund.
Though Greystar has been participating in the student housing market since 2008, it did not previously have a dedicated student housing investment vehicle. As part of the deal, Blackstone’s non-traded REIT Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust teamed up with Greystar in a joint venture to acquire a 10,500-bed Education Realty portfolio. Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust paid $1.2 billion for a 95 percent stake in the portfolio, which Greystar agreed to manage. Greystar’s student housing portfolio now holds 120,000 beds globally and more than $2 billion worth of development.
Institutional Investor of the Year
1. Teacher Retirement System of Texas
3. Ivanhoé Cambridge
Everything is bigger in Texas, including the pension funds. The Teacher Retirement System of Texas proved that a US public pension can go toe-to-toe with the insurance companies and sovereign wealth funds of the world. The Austin, Texas-based scheme committed $3.175 billion to real estate last year as it broadened its horizon beyond commingled funds to targeting principal investments through joint ventures, separate accounts and co-investments. It also set aside an additional $3 billion to innovate with emerging managers. With upwards of $17.4 billion of real assets under management, Texas TRS is perennially among the top US-based public pensions. With plans to add staff, increase outreach and build out its internal deal-making infrastructure, it is looking to secure its standing for years to come.
To secure the top spot, Texas TRS had to best last year’s champion, Ivanhoé Cambridge. The real estate subsidiary of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec acquired Callahan Capital Properties and bought a 38 percent stake in Canadian industrial REIT Pure Industrial Trust. German insurance company Allianz also drew votes for acquiring stakes in prominent assets in New York and San Francisco.
Capital Raise of the Year
1. KKR Real Estate Partners Americas II
2. Berkshire Multifamily Debt Fund II
3. Rockpoint Growth & Income Fund II
As market uncertainty carries the day for many investors, it is fitting that this award is bestowed upon a defensive-minded fund. KKR’s Real Estate Partners America II claims the honor after closing on $2 billion in January 2018, beating its $1.5 billion target.
KKR, under the leadership of managing director Brian Dillard, has pivoted its second Americas-focused fund toward demographic-driven housing assets, such as student housing, senior housing and entry-level multifamily in prime housing-constrained markets. KKR, which manages close to $195 billion worth of assets, had invested $487.6 million from REPA II by the end of 2018, according to the firm’s Q4 earnings report. Early acquisitions for the fund included a student housing complex near Alabama’s Auburn University and a senior housing portfolio.
Despite winning the support of its peers, REPA II was not the biggest fund closing on the continent last year. The Carlyle Group closed its largest fund to date, Carlyle Realty Partners VIII, on $5.5 billion, surpassing its $5 billion target and hitting its hard-cap. The Washington, DC-based firm also took third place in this category last year after reaching a first close of $2.9 billion for Realty Partners VIII.
Capital Advisory of the Year
1. Hodes Weill & Associates
2. Evercore Real Estate Capital Advisory
3. Park Hill Real Estate
Under the leadership of co-founders Doug Weill and David Hodes, Hodes Weill & Associates keeps its stranglehold on the capital advisory category for a fifth year in a row.
The New York-based firm raised capital for Longfellow Real Estate Partners’ $500 million life science and technology real estate fund. That vehicle will pursue the acquisition, development and management of life science and technology assets across the US. It also served as a placement agent for Crow Holdings’ Realty Partners VIII, a $1.3 billion fund focused on US value-add multifamily, retail and industrial properties. Seventy percent of its capital raising activity is in the US.
Park Hill, the runner up in 2017’s awards, took third place for advising two $500 million-plus fundraises, while Mercury Capital Advisors finished second after closing Madison International Realty’s Liquidity Fund VII on $1.3 billion and Walton Street Capital’s Real Estate Debt Fund II on $1 billion.
Law Firm of the Year: Fund Formation
1. Kirkland & Ellis
2. Paul Hastings
3. Clifford Chance
Kirkland’s Investment Funds Group has advised on the formation of countless real estate funds, varying in structure and spanning the risk spectrum. In 2018, it advised on the fundraising and formation of Covenant Capital Group’s ninth fund, Covenant Apartment Fund IX. The value-add multifamily real estate fund closed on $395 million. It also advised on the formation and fundraising of Reno, Nevada-based Dermody Properties’ second industrial fund, Dermody Properties Industrial Fund II, which beat its target and raised $619.3 million.
The firm’s approximately 380 investment fund attorneys also acted for other North American firms such as Dune Real Estate Partners, Sound Mark Partners, Sterling Bay and Oaktree Capital Management
on the formation of real estate funds.
Law Firm of the Year: Transactions
1. Gibson Dunn
2. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
3. Simpson Thacher
The Los Angeles-based law firm directed many of last year’s most high-profile transactions in the real estate world including representing industry big names such as Blackstone Asset Management, Brookfield Asset Management, Colony Northstar and CBRE Global Investors.
The approximately 100-person real estate practice group led transactions that took on geographic diversity and a wide range of investment structures. In April, Gibson Dunn represented Jamestown Properties in its $2.4 billion sale of Manhattan’s iconic Chelsea Market to tech giant Google, a transaction that went down as New York City’s second largest full single-asset sale.
The law firm also represented CBRE GI in its $1.5 billion joint venture with Brookfield Asset Management to acquire GGP malls across the United States.
Firm of the Year: Latin America
2. CIM Group
3. Goodman Group
The logistics real estate expert ramped up its efforts in Latin America with a joint venture and build-to-suit projects for tenants. The firm teamed up with Canadian investor Ivanhoé Cambridge in a $890 million joint venture in November to develop and operate logistics properties across Brazil. Prologis took a 20 percent stake, while Ivanhoé Cambridge held the majority 80 percent share. The venture announced plans for an initial portfolio of assets with 6.9 million square feet of operating property and 371 acres of land to build out. The focus will be in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro where more than 40 percent of Brazil’s economic activities are concentrated.
In the first half of 2018, Prologis also completed its build-to-suit project for Amazon in Mexico City. The nearly one million square foot warehouse project started in September 2017 to triple Amazon’s distribution space in Mexico and help the e-commerce giant reach an estimated 120 million potential customers.