Looking over our shoulders at a second year of life during a global pandemic, it is interesting to note how the trends accelerated by the crisis provoked changes in reader habits. Running the numbers on engagement with PERE’s editorial output during the period, we saw a notable uptick in interest in innovation and technology as well as ESG. The troubles faced by the industry also made for popular reading, particularly at the human capital level. For some groups, 2021, like the year before, will be a year to forget. Others have seen the period as an opportunity to make significant changes.

Below are the top-read stories:

  1. Pandemic trips up the PERE 100: PERE’s signature ranking of managers by discretionary equity raised for real estate investment is routinely among our best-read items each year. Covid-19 is the single biggest event to happen on earth since World War II. Unsurprisingly, how the pandemic adversely impacted the PERE 100 was your top read in 2021.
  2. How KKR’s new real estate fund is ‘revolutionary’: The New York-based private equity giant’s plans to democratize institutional-grade real estate for the benefit of retail capital stole readers’ attention in May. KKR Real Estate Select Trust, the manager’s first property vehicle to be made available to individual investors, was constructed differently to the non-traded REIT offerings by the firm’s peers and stood out for its registration with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
  3. What SPACs mean for private real estate: Special purpose acquisition companies became a force to be reckoned with in the capital markets in 2021. But their relevance for private real estate appeared initially to be curtailed to proptech and property finance businesses, rather than for hard assets. That situation could change, as PERE
  4. The Proptech 20: Real estate capital markets’ next frontier: As the owners and managers of real assets were increasingly required to integrate new technologies into their operations, the opportunity for institutional and corporate money to invest in those technologies grew as well. Cue the Proptech 20, PERE’s first ranking dedicated to the capital raised for the vehicles that will finance them. More than $5 billion was raised by the constituent firms of the inaugural ranking. Expect that figure to grow in future.
  5. Goldman Sachs loses long-time real estate executive: The principal real estate business of Wall Street’s famous investment bank has not been a major force since the global financial crisis. But that has done little to dissuade PERE readers from tuning in when they see that a senior executive from the platform has left. In July, Peter Weidman, who had been co-head of Goldman Sachs’ global real estate credit business, left after two decades at the bank. Richard Spencer, his co-CIO, became sole CIO of the firm’s Broad Street Real Estate Credit Partners series.
  6. ADIA loses head of Americas RE amid wave of senior departures: With $48.68 billion of real estate as per PERE’s annual Global Investor 100 ranking, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority is one of the biggest institutional investors in the market. Unsurprisingly then, when Gerald Fang, the sovereign wealth fund’s Americas head, left in May, it created quite a stir. His was one of many senior exits. Tongues were wagging so much about the Middle Eastern investor that PERE investigated the situation in a major feature published later in the year.
  7. Private real estate firms cancel bonuses during the pandemic: When senior executives at private real assets recruitment search specialist Sousou Partners ran the rule over the findings for this year’s annual compensation survey, they were shocked to find instances of no bonuses being paid. “I’ve never seen this in the time we’ve covered compensation,” stated Ghada Sousou, one of the London- and New York-based firm’s founders.
  8. How core real estate is being redefined: Whether at the asset level, where traditional mainstream sectors such as offices and retail properties are conceding ground to what were previously labelled ‘alternative’ assets, or at the vehicle level, where investors are spending more time considering access via special purpose vehicles or REITs than open-end funds, core real estate is morphing. One of PERE’s Deep Dive series, this feature drilled into the change to discover the reasons why.
  9. This is how it all ends for Colony Capital: PERE’s most-read commentary piece was published in July when Tom Barrack, one of the biggest names in private real estate investing, was arrested on federal charges of illegally lobbying former US president Donald Trump on behalf of the United Arab Emirates. The episode was a sad footnote in the demise of a once mighty private equity real estate firm.
  10. Meet real estate’s women of influence: What do KKR’s Paula Campbell Roberts, Gaw Capital’s Christina Gaw and Heidrick & Struggles’ Chantal Clavier have in common? Each was selected among PERE’s inaugural Women of Influence initiative. Designed to showcase the achievements of some of private real estate’s most instrumental needle-moving women, the feature formed part of a surge of content produced by PERE and affiliate publications at parent company PEI Media aimed at highlighting the work of underrepresented groups of the private investment community.

With this Friday Letter, PERE is signing off for the year. As we do, please allow us to wish you all a very happy and healthy festive period. We look forward to serving you again next year with our customary array of deep insight and analysis of all things private real estate. And, before you power down your laptops, do not forget to vote on those groups and individuals who have done great things in the market over the past 12 months in PERE’s annual Global Awards.

See you in 2022.