A better platform

Two former UBS pros have launched JT Partners, a placement agent with minority backing from Apollo Real Estate and Raimus Capital.

Real estate pros Mitchell Sikora and Peter Finley have launched a new placement agent, JT Partners, which is backed by minority investments from Apollo Real Estate Advisors and Raimus Capital Group.

“We believe this business doesn't fit well in an investment bank platform,” Sikora told Private Equity Real Estate. “We saw this as an opportunity to build a better platform.”

Sikora and Finley were previously with the real estate, leisure and lodging group at UBS, where they ran the investment bank's private equity real estate placement group.

“There is always a push at banks to do more year after year,” Finley said. “Real estate is a cyclical business. There will be good times to invest and not-so-good-times to invest.”

JT will raise real estate funds for backers Apollo and Raimus, both of which were former clients at UBS, though they say the bulk of the business will come from other assignments. “This is a third-party business,” Sikora said.

“We're looking at value-add and opportunistic managers all the time with the thought of taking them out into the institutional world,” Sikora said, adding that, in addition to raising funds focused on real estate, the firm could eventually broaden its mandate.

Prior to joining UBS, Sikora was one of the founding partners at real estate fund of funds Madison Harbor Capital and a managing director at ACI Capital. Finley previously headed up the private equity placement practice at JP Morgan, as well as restructuring Equitable Life's real estate portfolio in the mid-1990s.

Rounding out the firm's team as directors are Gena Cheng and Larry Teitelbaum. Cheng was formerly a portfolio manager at ABP Investments US, a captive advisor to the Dutch pension fund. Cheng previously held positions with investment banks Morgan Stanley and Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette, as well as accounting firm Arthur Andersen.

Teitelbaum joins JT Partners as a former vice president at Deutsche Bank Securities for real estate equities institutional sales. Also an attorney, he previously practiced law for Greenberg Traurig and Segal and Meltzer.

Hawkeye hires three RE pros
Private equity real estate management firm Hawkeye Partners has hired three new executives as the firm looks to build out its emerging manager investment program. David Smith and Jim Ballard are joining the firm as managing directors. Smith will oversee the firm's fund accounting, financial reporting, analytics, human resources, information technology and legal teams, while Ballard will focus on finding, underwriting and selecting fund managers for the firm's emerging fund sponsors vehicle. Jamie Kingsley is joining as vice president and controller. Hawkeye, co-founded by former Pension Consulting Alliance pro Claudia Faust, recently held an initial close on more than $700 million (€535 million) for its emerging manager vehicle, Scout Fund I.

Rubenstein adds Trizec investment pro
Philadelphia-based office investor Rubenstein Partners has hired Brian Lipson as its third managing principal. Lipson will be responsible for acquisitions for Rubenstein's debut private equity real estate vehicle, Rubenstein Partners Fund, which closed on $475 million (€365 million) in May. Lipson joins the firm from Chicago-based REIT Trizec Properties, which was acquired last fall by The Blackstone Group and Brookfield Properties for $7.2 billion. From 1997 to 2001, Lipson was the executive vice president at Trizec. He rejoined Trizec in January 2005 as chief investment officer and executive vice president.

Broadway hires fundraising pro
New York-based Broadway Real Estate Partners has hired Douglas Harper as its managing director of institutional marketing. Harper was formerly the director of the account management group at private equity real estate firm BlackRock Realty. “He has tremendous experience in the institutional fundraising arena already,” Charles Millard, president of Broadway, told PERE. “As we look to raise future funds, we think he'll make a great impact on our organization.” Broadway recently closed its second office-focused fund on $590 million (€455 million).

Green Courte appoints new director
Chicago-area Green Courte Partners has appointed Stephen Douglass as managing director for asset management. Douglass will supervise the development of new retail projects, optimize performance of existing stable assets and work to improve assets across the firm's portfolio. Douglass joins Green Courte from Transwestern, where he was a managing director and co-head of asset management.

Denekas joins Harrison Street
Andrew Denekas has joined Chicago-based Harrison Street Real Estate as a vice president and director of investor accounting. Denekas was previously vice president of portfolio accounting at Capri Capital Advisors. Harrison closed on $75 million (€58 million) for its first opportunity fund last fall and was founded by former Heitman pro Christopher Merrill in 2005.

Battle for Equity Office rages
The battle for Equity Office Properties stepped up after a consortium comprising Vornado Realty Trust, Starwood Capital and Walton Street Capital made an unsolicited $37.6 billion (€28 billion) approach for the company in the wake of Blackstone's $36 billion offer last year. At press time, Blackstone shot back, raising its offer to $38.3 billion. Blackstone's improved offer is being seen as an attempt to strike a decisive blow ahead of a meeting of Equity Office shareholders on February 5. Blackstone has already argued that the Vornado consortium's bid, which includes cash and shares of Vornado stock, is inherently more risky than its own all-cash bid. In a statement, Equity Office said that in addition to the higher price, “the greater speed and certainty of closing and valuation of the Blackstone transaction” made it a more attractive proposition.

Morgan Stanley acquires CNL for $6.6bn
Morgan Stanley Real Estate has acquired most of hospitality trust CNL Hotels and Resorts for $6.6 billion (€5.1 billion) including debt. As part of the transaction, CNL will sell 51 of its properties to Ashford Hospitality Trust, a Dallas-based hotel REIT, for $2.4 billion. Morgan Stanley is paying $20.50 per share of the privately held CNL, the second largest hospitality REIT in the US, and will acquire the company's landmark golf and resort properties. This past December, CNL sold 32 assets to Goldman's Whitehall fund for $405 million.

JER, formation acquire genesis for $1.3bn
McLean, Virginia-based JER Partners is working with Alpharetta, Georgia- and Jenkintown, Pennsylvania-based healthcare investor Formation Capital to take long-term care provider Genesis Health Care private in a $1.3 billion (€1 billion) deal. The investor consortium is paying $63 per share for the company, a premium of 31 percent over the average share price for the 30 days prior to the transaction. JER and Formation will also reportedly assume $450 million in debt. Genesis, which is headquartered in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, operates more than 200 longterm care centers in the Eastern US.

Dune, acquires San Francisco hotel for $200m
New York hedge fund Dune Capital Management and California private investment group DiNapoli Capital Partners have acquired the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco for a reported $200 million (€154 million). The seller of the 800-room hotel was Strategic Hotel Capital, a private group owned by investment bank Goldman Sachs. “The acquisition represents a unique opportunity for us to acquire a landmark asset in an irreplaceable location in Downtown San Francisco,” Dan Neidich, the co-chief executive of-ficer at Dune Capital Management, said in a statement. Dune was founded by Neidich, Chip Seelig and Steve Mnuchin, all former pros at Goldman. Dune closed its debut private equity real estate fund last year on $727 million.