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Clarion names new CEO

The transition is part of a longer-term succession plan at the Stephen Furnary-led real estate investment manager.

Stephen Furnary, the co-founder of New York-based real estate investment manager Clarion Partners, is stepping down as chief executive, PERE has learned.

In an email to industry contacts earlier this month, Furnary said David Gilbert, currently Clarion’s president and chief investment officer, will replace him as CEO.

Furnary will remain executive chairman and work on enhancing the firm’s investment offerings, including working with clients; mergers and acquisitions relating to new business initiatives; and overseeing the firm’s relationship with its parent company, Legg Mason. He will remain on the investment committee and chair Clarion’s executive board and board of directors. The firm’s financial and legal/compliance teams, along with Gilbert, will continue to report to him.

In his new role, Gilbert will have all key business functions – including asset management and capital raising – reporting to him. Meanwhile, Gilbert will remain CIO, overseeing the investment team and chairing the investment committee. A new president is not expected to be announced for the foreseeable future. The leadership change is effective May 1.

“This succession has been carefully programmed over the past few years, and Clarion is truly blessed that we have such depth in management across the firm to handle this transition seamlessly,” Furnary wrote in his email.

The transition comes about a year after the completion of a management-led recapitalization that involved Baltimore-based asset management firm Legg Mason acquiring a majority stake in Clarion for $585 million, with Clarion becoming the global real estate investment management platform for Legg Mason. Clarion was understood to have retained an approximately 20 percent stake in the company. New York-based private equity firm Lightyear Capital previously owned a majority interest in Clarion for five years.

Furnary is a 40-year veteran of the private equity real estate industry. He began his career in 1974, working in the real estate investment and management department at Citibank. He went on to become an executive vice president and partner at Lazard Realty before joining forces with his former Citibank colleague, John Weisz, to form what was then known as Jones Lang Wootton Realty Advisors with Jones Lang Wootton as its corporate partner. The firm was renamed Clarion Partners after Furnary and Weisz bought out Jones Lang’s interest in 1995.

Gilbert joined Clarion in 2007 and also oversees the firm’s investment research group. Before coming to Clarion, he was a managing director at JPMorgan Investment Management from 2005 to 2007 and was real estate head of JPMorgan Partners, the private equity arm of what was then Chase Manhattan Bank, from 1996 to 2005, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Clarion invests in office, retail, industrial, multifamily residential and hotel properties across the risk/return spectrum, including core, core-plus, value-add and opportunistic. The firm currently manages $44 billion of assets and has more than 280 employees in the US, Brazil and the UK.