Brockton Capital hires Morgan Stanley pro

The addition of Simon Samuels, head of Morgan Stanley’s UK real estate loan origination business, is one of two new hires at the London firm as it also reveals the acquisition of several London pubs and the sale of a West End office investment.

London-based Brockton Capital has added two team members and struck several deals, it has announced.

Brockton, which is investing a £150 million (€189 million; $300 million) UK opportunity fund, revealed Simon Samuels is joining from Morgan Stanley while Richard Keen is joining from UK property company Quintain Estates and Development. Both will be partners.

Samuels is joining from Morgan Stanley where has been head of UK real estate loan origination while Keen leaves Quintain where he was repsonsible for a large development at Wembley near to the national football stadium. Prior to Quintain, he worked for The Grosvenor Estate and property services firm Richard Ellis.

Commenting on the new hires, Tony Edgley, non executive chairman, said it was well-known Morgan Stanley’s real estate debt team had been avoiding lending to “over-valued UK assets” in the recent property cycle. Of Keen, he said his experience of development projects at Quintain and Grosvenor would be “of massive use” to Brockton in delivering upside for the firm’s investments.

The appointments come as the firm also announced several deals. In the first, it has agreed to sell a prime office in the West End of London for around £38 million to a private client of Citi Private Bank, having restructured the lease with GAM, the investment management arm of Swiss bank Julias Baer. David Marks, co-managing partner of Brockton, said in a statement that the sale of the property at 63 St James’s Street came at a time when a number of leases were being signed at £100 per square foot and above in the Mayfair and St James’s area since April. This is a sign of “the core underlying strength” of the leasing market in the area, he said.

Brockton has also agreed to purchase a number of vacant pubs in London on behalf of Realpubs, a business it has backed. David Zimmermann, head of acquisitions at Brockton, said the pubs were corner buildings. Realpubs will offer high quality food and drink from the premises and will utilise upper parts as residential or as private space for regular customers.

Brockton was formed in 2005 by ex Blackstone real estate professional Marks, and Jason Blank, formerly of Merrill Lynch. Investments include the £2 billion General Healthcare Group, the UK’s largest private hospital operator. Private equity firm Apax Partners and property company London & Regional were co-investors in the deal.