Cerberus’s head of international real estate dies at 56

Ron Rawald was a 34-year real estate veteran whose impact was felt around the globe, holding leadership roles in the US, Asia and Europe.

Ron Rawald, senior managing director and head of international real estate at Cerberus Capital Management, died suddenly over the weekend, PERE has learned. He was 56.

Lee Millstein, president of global investment and head of global real estate at the New York firm, notified investors of Rawald’s death in a letter issued Monday, calling it unexpected. The letter does not specify a cause. A replacement has not yet been identified, according to a spokesperson for the firm.

Millstein credits Rawald with establishing Cerberus as a leader in the non-performing loan space during his 15-year tenure with the firm, and for driving its growth in emerging markets. During a career that spanned more than three decades and three continents, Rawald cultivated a reputation as an industry leader in identifying opportunities in distressed markets.

He spent the late 1990s and early 2000s in Tokyo, acquiring assets throughout Asia after the Japanese asset price bubble burst, first as executive director of Morgan Stanley’s special situations group then later at Aetos Capital, a private equity real estate firm he helped found in 2001.

In 2004, he moved to Europe, taking a managing director position in Fortress Investment Group’s Frankfurt office. The following year he moved to Cerberus where he eventually took the reins as head of European real estate. After the global financial crisis, he spearheaded a distressed debt buying spree that turned the firm into a leader in European non-performing loans.

As part of a broader leadership re-organization at Cerberus in 2017, Rawald was called back to the US to take the newly-created role of head of international real estate based in New York. This put him in charge of all real estate investment outside North America. As of last year, the firm had raised more than $5 billion to invest in non-performing loans in Europe, China, India and Brazil; the latter where Rawald had focused much of his recent efforts.

Rawald earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Indiana in 1986 and an MBA from Fordham University in 1992. His first real estate job was with an Indianapolis-based property management company. He went on to work for TIAA-CREF and Merrill Lynch before arriving at Morgan Stanley in 1998, where he met Millstein. The two worked together in Tokyo.

“Ron was kind and thoughtful, adventurous and entertaining, and had an extraordinary ability to make friends with anyone he met,” Millstein wrote in his letter to investors. “He was fiercely loyal and touched the lives of many people around the globe. Most of all, Ron was very proud of and close to his family. As I sit here writing this, there are so many memories going through my mind – for now, I will simply say that I miss him very much.”