Colony’s European head of investing departs

Sébastien Bazin, after 16 years at the Los Angeles-based private investment firm, has left to head Accor, one of Colony’s largest investments in the region. Meanwhile, the firm has appointed two of its principals to replace Bazin.

Sébastien Bazin, who headed Colony Capital’s European operations for 16 years, has left the firm. He has joined Accor, the largest hotel company in Europe, today as chairman and chief executive.

Meanwhile, Colony has named two of its principals, Jean-Romain Lhomme and Nadra Moussalem, to replace Bazin as co-heads of Colony Europe, beginning on September 2. The two executives, who have been at the firm for 13 years, will be based in Paris and be responsible for managing its existing European portfolio as well as pursuing new investment opportunities in the region.

“We continue to believe the European market is becoming increasingly fertile territory for new investment activity,” Lhomme and Moussalem said jointly in a statement.  “Our goal, which Tom Barrack has stated previously, is to invest €2 billion-plus in Europe over the next 18 months, an effort he has and will continue to personally lead with us here in Europe.”

The succession plan “ensures the continuity of our presence and success with our investments in the region, which will remain a priority for us,” said Thomas Barrack, Colony’s chairman and chief executive. “I look forward to working personally with our European team to capture the upcoming opportunities.” 

On Bazin, Barrack added: “Over the last 16 years, under Sebastien Bazin’s leadership, Colony Europe has become a leading European real estate private equity group. “Given that Accor is among Colony Europe’s largest investments, Sébastien’s move represents the perfect opportunity to optimize the company’s ability to drive a substantial enhancement of shareholder value.” 

Los Angeles-based Colony, which was founded in 1991 by Barrack, hired Bazin in 1997 to establish a European business for the firm. Based in Paris, Bazin helped to execute a number of investments in the hospitality sector, including the buyout of luxury hotel chains Fairmont and Raffles; the acquisition and management of hotel assets from La Générale des Eaux, Club Méditerranée and Accor; the acquisition of a stake in Lucien Barrière Group; and investment in Accor.

Additionally, under Bazin, Colony became a reference investor in Accor, where it currently holds an 11 percent stake, and Spanish property company Inmobiliaria Colonial. He also helped the firm to pioneer investments in niche property sectors such as vineyards with Château Lascombes; sports facilities with Stadia Consulting, PSG and the Molitor swimming pool; and, most recently, data centers.

In fact, for data centers, Colony has created a specialized pan-European platform, known as Data4, operating or expected to operate in France, Luxembourg, Italy and Switzerland. The firm declined to comment, but PERE understands that Colony is expected to hold a final close on a €500million co-investment fund in September to raise additional capital to expand the Data4 business.  To date, the firm has invested nearly €10 billion in the region.