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BlackRock’s Chandler to retire – Exclusive

The man behind the asset management giant’s purchase of private equity real estate firm MGPA is to step down as chairman of its real estate business at the end of June. 

Jack Chandler, the man behind BlackRock’s purchase of private equity real estate firm MGPA, is to set to retire as chairman of the asset management giant’s real estate business.

BlackRock Real Estate investors are being informed about Chandler’s retirement at an event in London today after senior executives were told last week. He is scheduled to step down as of June 30.

Chandler joined the $5 trillion-plus assets firm in 2011 as global head with a brief to expand its real estate business from a predominantly core funds platform that had approximately $13 billion of assets under management.

A year later he established a real estate securities business and in 2013 almost doubled BlackRock’s real estate AUM with the purchase of the Europe and Asia-focused MGPA. That deal saw 220 staff join BlackRock’s existing 150-strong bench, according to the firm at the time.

BlackRock Real Estate’s growth has been muted since, however, with the firm currently managing approximately $20 billion in gross AUM and employing 220 staff across 16 offices.

Capital raising for the Europe and Asia opportunistic fund series inherited from the MGPA acquisition has also been limited, although there has been significant progress in recent months. In April, BlackRock closed Europe Fund IV on €700 million. It was the first final closing from the European series since the purchase. BlackRock is also understood to have made significant headway in raising capital for its Asia equivalent, Asia Fund IV, which had a $1 billion target.

Chandler had served as the chairman on the investment advisory committees of these funds. That responsibility will pass to Marcus Sperber, who took over as global head from Chandler in 2014. Sperber described Chandler as “an instrumental force behind the expansion of BlackRock’s real estate business post-GFC.”

“In this context, he has been a great senior executive in the group bringing vast industry expertise, delivering strong performance to our clients and bringing a long-term perspective and client relationships. He has been an influential partner for all of us in pursuing our growth strategy including globalizing our business and the move into the liquids business, an area in which we see strong future growth,” Sperber said.

Chandler added: “Over the past years, I have seen BlackRock Real Estate grow into a truly global player with a broad and dynamic platform that can offer clients capabilities across real estate equity, listed securities and debt markets. Today, that platform is an essential component of BlackRock’s Real Assets capabilities, providing clients with an even wider range of investment options.”

The changes at the top of BlackRock’s real estate business come months after the asset manager formed BlackRock Real Assets, a division largely comprised of the real estate business and its infrastructure business. It is overseen by infrastructure head, Jim Barry. The formation of a real assets team coincided with a firm-wide reshuffling, which also included the appointment of new heads for BlackRock’s multi-asset and fixed-income groups.

Besides his endeavors at BlackRock, Chandler is also well-known for growing the Asia business for Chicago-based real estate investment management firm LaSalle Investment Management. After moving to Singapore in 2000, he spearheaded the growth of a business to about $12 billion AUM at its peak and 200-plus staff. He moved back to Chicago for a newly formed chief investment officer role in 2011, before being appointed global head of real estate at BlackRock later that year.