Azelby to retire from JPMorgan – Exclusive

The head of global real assets and 30-year veteran of New York-based asset management company is stepping down early next year.

Joe Azelby, managing director and chief executive of the global real assets (GRA) group at JPMorgan Asset Management (JPMAM), is retiring after 30 years at the New York-based asset management firm, PERE has learned.

Azelby’s departure was communicated to investors this week, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. He is understood to be leaving the firm in February 2017, and his role will not be replaced, two sources said. Instead, the various businesses within GRA – which include real estate, infrastructure and maritime investments, will report to Anton Pil and Chris Hayward, co-managing partners of global alternatives at JPMAM, the asset management division of New York-based banking and financial services company JPMorgan Chase. 

Specifically, both the private real estate investment and global infrastructure teams will report to Pil, according to a client note from Jonathan Gould of Callan Associates. Azelby will continue to advise the GRA group, but will no longer be involved in the business' day-to-day activities, the note said. “JPMorgan indicated that the change should not impact the investment strategy or day-to-day management activities of any real estate, infrastructure, or maritime portfolios,” Gould wrote.

As CEO of global real assets, Azelby currently leads a team of 500 investment professionals in 20 cities around the world managing over $95 billion in assets. The group invests across the US, Europe, Asia, Australia and Brazil. Azelby, who has led the group since 1998, is considered a pioneer in the real assets space, having overseen the transformation of JPMorgan’s US real estate business into a global real assets investment platform. Azelby, a former linebacker with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills, joined JPMorgan in 1986 as a managing director, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Azelby is the latest and most senior member of the global real assets group to leave JPMorgan. Earlier this year, Douglas Doughty, global head of business development and client strategy at the group, left after two and a half years. Other departures this year included Michael Duignan, executive director of marketing and client management and an 18-year company veteran, and managing director John Faust, who joined Cornerstone as managing director of business development last month after 3.5 years at JPMAM.

Among other longtime executives that exited the firm in recent years was Amy Cummings, executive director of marketing and client service, who left in September 2014 after nearly 15 years at the company and resurfaced at MetLife three months later as managing director of investor services. Also, in June 2015, JD Sitton, client portfolio manager for the global real assets group, exited after 13.5 years and is now global head of business development at Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers.

Most of the departures in the GRA group were predominantly within the client relations team, however, rather than investment professionals such as Azelby.