Arcapita hires ex-Lehman exec for Asia

The former eight-year veteran of Lehman Brother’s Asia real estate team, Blake Olafson, has moved to Arcapita to lead the investment bank’s operations in the region. He will be responsible for building Arcapita's portfolio in Asia, Japan and Australia.

Former Lehman Brothers’ real estate executive Blake Olafson has joined the Bahrain investment bank Arcapita as director to lead its property team in Asia.

Blake Olafson was previously senior vice president for Lehman’s private equity real estate group, Lehman Brothers Real Estate, in Singapore, where he led the expansion of the team over the past few years.

However the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September has now seen the executive move to Arcapita, where he will spearhead the bank’s real estate team in the Asia Pacific region. He will be responsible for building Arcapita’s real estate portfolio in Asia, Japan and Australia.

Olafson will report to Martin Tan, global head of Arcapita’s real estate business. Tan noted that Olafson’s experience in Asian real estate markets would strengthen the team’s search for investment opportunities in the region.

The bankruptcy of Lehman's has prompted the global heads of the private equity real estate firm, Mark Newman and Brett Bossung, along with the firm’s European head Gerald Parkes, to stage a management buy-out of the investment group, according to reports. Just days prior to Lehman’s bankruptcy, Lehman Brothers Real Estate closed its latest opportunistic global vehicle, the $3.2 billion Lehman Brothers Real Estate Partners III.

Last year, Olafson told local media, Lehman Brothers Real Estate was set to almost double its team to 12 members from around six in Singapore. In total, Lehman Brothers had about 200 members of staff in Singapore, having made around $11 billion of direct property investments since 2001. According to a report in the Business Times, as of September last year, Lehman held around $7.3 billion in assets – having securitised or sold off the rest.

This July, Arcapita formed a joint venture with real estate firm Mapletree Investments to buy the Mapletree Industrial Trust. The Mapletree Industrial Trust is a private real estate fund, which holds a S$1.7 billion ($1.2 billion; €858.7 million) portfolio of high-rise industrial properties, acquired from JTC Corporation.

In the same month, Arcapita formed a joint venture with Colossus, a holding company of Indian conglomerate, the Tanti Group, to acquire Beijing-based Honiton Energy Holdings, in a bid to invest $2 billion (€1.3 billion) in wind farms in China.

Yvette Choo contributed to this article.