Barry Blattman, co-head of global real estate opportunistic investments at Brookfield Asset Management, has left the company’s property business after 12 years at the firm, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. Instead, the 25-year real estate veteran now will be focused on building the corporate-credit business within Brookfield’s private equity platform.
In his new post, Blattman will work to expand existing corporate-credit strategies within private equity, including those related to corporate, real estate and infrastructure owners. Additionally, he will launch new corporate-credit strategies within the platform. While the move has not yet been officially announced, Blattman began making the transition to private equity at the beginning of the year, sources said. Brookfield is expected to hire additional staff to build out the corporate credit business under Blattman.
As senior managing director, Blattman was one of the top three real estate executives at Brookfield, which also included global head of real estate Ric Clark and global chief investment officer Brian Kingston. With Clark, Blattman was responsible for overseeing Brookfield’s real estate opportunistic investments, particularly distressed and other special situations. However, Brookfield is not expected to hire a replacement for Blattman; instead, his former duties will be divided between Clark and Kingston, sources said.
Blattman was listed as a key man for Brookfield Strategic Real Estate Partners (BSREP), along with Clark, Kingston and David Arthur, managing partner of real estate investments in North America, according to people familiar with the fund. However, PERE understands that the departure of at least two of the four key men is needed to trigger a key-man event in the fund. With Blattman’s departure from real estate, Kingston now will assume the executive’s former role as co-portfolio manager of BSREP with Clark. Blattman, however, will remain on the investment committee for BSREP, as well as a number of other real estate vehicles that he helped to create.
Since joining Brookfield in 2002, Blattman has held various senior management roles at the company, including creating and overseeing Brookfield Real Estate Financial Partners and Brookfield’s private funds platform. He perhaps was best known for structuring the Brookfield Real Estate Turnaround Consortium, whose most high-profile investment was the recapitalization of troubled mall company General Growth Properties in 2010.
Sources said Blattman’s track record of building businesses at Brookfield, as well as his previous years of corporate credit and lending experience, was what led him to his latest venture. Prior to Brookfield, he was a managing director at Merrill Lynch, responsible for various businesses including real estate equity and debt, structured finance and Latin American debt capital markets. Blattman began his career in 1986 with Salomon Brothers.
Cross-division moves within Brookfield aren’t uncommon and even are encouraged by the company’s chief executive officer, Bruce Flatt, sources said. For example, John Stinebaugh recently joined the real estate group as chief financial officer, after serving in a similar capacity at the company’s infrastructure business.
Meanwhile, Blattman is the latest high-profile departure from Brookfield’s real estate group, and another loss for its opportunistic business in particular. Earlier this year, David Brush, who had been leading the company’s European opportunistic investments out of London, reportedly left the firm to join Merlin Properties, a new opportunistic real estate platform in Spain. Blattman himself had hired Brush after relocating to London for a year to search for candidates to fill the senior post.
Private equity is one of the Toronto-based alternative asset manager’s four alternative asset businesses, which also include real estate, infrastructure and renewable energy. Within private equity, Brookfield focuses on its areas of expertise, including turnaround and distress as well as residential development, according to the company’s website.
The platform, along with infrastructure, is the second-largest business at Brookfield, with each managing $29 billion in assets as of December 31. Real estate is the company’s largest platform by a wide margin, with $108 billion of assets under management.
The private equity business, also known as Brookfield Capital Partners, is the only one of the four platforms that remains privately-held. The infrastructure, renewable energy and real estate businesses have spun off as publicly-listed entities in 2008, 2011 and 2013, respectively.