After more than 30 years working in the real estate industry, Barings‘ Charles Weeks is due to retire, PERE can reveal.
Weeks has served as head of Europe real estate at the Charlotte, North Carolina-headquartered investment firm, which is owned by the US insurance giant MassMutual, since 2010. Head of Asia-Pacific real estate was added to his title in 2019. He oversees both the debt and equity platforms for both regions, and leads the investment strategy and business development efforts. He also serves on the investment committees for both regions.
Weeks founded London-based Protego Real Estate Investors in 2004. The company was acquired by Barings, then known as Cornerstone Real Estate Advisors, in early 2010. Prior to establishing Protego, Weeks was responsible for corporate marketing and sales at Aberdeen Property Investors, now abrdn.
When Weeks retires at the end of the year, Nick Pink, currently head of real estate portfolio management Europe at Barings, will assume the role of head of European real estate. He will report to David Mihalick, Barings’ head of private assets. The handover is currently underway.
Pink joined Barings in 2005 and has worked across strategy, transactions and portfolio management functions in both equity and debt markets. He was previously with CBRE Investment Management.
Pink told PERE the change forms part of a succession plan that has been long in the making. “Charles’s retirement has been well planned, and the timing of it is no surprise to anyone in the senior team at Barings. It will be a pretty seamless process.”
In addition to fulfilling his new position, Pink will maintain his existing responsibilities as head of real estate portfolio management Europe and chair of the European investment committees. “We have a seasoned senior team here, and given my focus in leading this business is going to be very much around strategy, investment execution and clients, it didn’t make sense to make any further changes – I’m very confident that I can perform both of those roles.”
Pink explained that Weeks’s role has effectively been split into investment strategy and operational administration responsibilities, with Pink assuming the former and James Salmon, the firm’s current head of real estate asset management Europe, assuming the latter as part of a newly created chief operating officer role. Salmon was formerly chief operating officer of Protego, and has also held roles at Aberdeen Property Investors and Capital and Regional. He will retain his asset management responsibilities.
“I think it will be a more efficient solution,” said Pink. “[Salmon] is certainly picking up some of Charles’s workload on the operational admin side, which leaves me more capacity on the investment and client side. We can move forward and retain responsibility, and then review the operation over the next few weeks, months, quarters and decide if and where we need additional resource across the platform.”
Although Weeks is head of European and Asia-Pacific real estate, Pink explained oversight of the firm’s APAC business was transferred to Alastair Wright at the end of Q1 2023. Wright was one of the founding principals of Altis Property Partners, the Australian specialist real estate private equity business that Barings acquired in August 2022. At the time, the deal provided the firm with an additional 44 real estate professionals and another A$6 billion ($4.3 billion; €4.1 billion) of mostly value-add assets under management. Later that year, Barings issued its first real estate loans in Asia-Pacific, as reported by PERE.
“It made a lot of sense, after bringing the Altis platform on board, for Charles to pass the mantle for the next phase of the APAC business build-out over to our colleagues in the region,” Pink said of the change. “It was ultimately a realization that the skillsets we brought on board will enable the local team to drive the growth of the platform.”
Speaking on Barings’ activity in Europe so far this year, Pink said deals have been limited owing to the market being “hamstrung” by the lack of price discovery, but the firm has transacted selectively across ‘beds and sheds’ in recent months. Opportunities are also building on the debt side, he added. Looking forward, Pink is hopeful 2024 will be “a supportive year for the platform and the new products that we have in the pipeline.”
Barings sits in 95th place in this year’s PERE 100 ranking of the industry’s most active managers, having raised $2.1 billion in the five-year catchment period through March 2023. One year prior, it occupied 135th position in the PERE 200, the second tranche of the annual ranking.