BentallGreenOak is preparing for a transition of its top leadership, which will see its longtime chief executive step down, PERE has learned.

Gary Whitelaw, who has served as BentallGreenOak’s CEO for 22 years, will be retiring at the end of this year. The real estate investment manager’s president, Sonny Kalsi, will assume the CEO role on June 30. Meanwhile, Amy Price, currently co-head for the US, will succeed Kalsi as president on January 1, 2021, joining the board and executive committee of the firm at that time.

BentallGreenOak Sonny Kalsi
Sonny Kalsi

“This decision is a part of a previously established long-term succession plan that aligns with both corporate and personal milestones,” the firm said in a statement to PERE. “It has long been Gary’s plan to hand over the reins to the next generation of leadership around this time, following his 65th birthday and the successful merger of Bentall Kennedy and GreenOak Real Estate.”

PERE understands that the transition plans were communicated to clients and employees on February 25 but were not previously reported. BentallGreenOak declined to comment further on the change, adding: “BGO’s leadership team is presently focused on steering the firm through these challenging times and will look to re-engage with media on the company’s leadership transition at a later date.”

The leadership change comes less than a year after the July 2019 close of the merger between Bentall Kennedy, the Toronto-based real estate investment management business of Canadian insurer Sun Life, and private equity real estate firm GreenOak Real Estate. As of December, the combined firm managed $49 billion of assets on behalf of more than 750 investors, with 1,300 employees spanning 12 countries and 24 cities. Its investment management business includes a global real estate equity platform with strategies ranging from core and core-plus in the US and Canada to value-add in the US, Europe and Asia, as well as lending platforms in Canada, the US, UK and Europe.

As chief executive, Whitelaw is responsible for the firm’s strategy, financial and operating performance, fiduciary and investment performance, and development of human capital. He also represents BentallGreenOak on Sun Life Capital Management’s executive team. Prior to joining BentallGreenOak’s predecessor firm in 1998, Whitelaw served in a number of senior executive positions in public and private real estate operating and investment firms.

Kalsi, who will remain based in New York, currently is responsible for overseeing BentallGreenOak’s global business. He co-founded GreenOak Real Estate in 2010, growing the firm to $12 billion of assets under management in 10 countries and more than 100 employees. Prior to founding GreenOak, Kalsi was global co-head of Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing business and president of the Morgan Stanley Real Estate Funds until 2009.