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Cornerstone makes key Euro hire

A value add real estate push beckons in Europe as Cornerstone hires Julian Gabriel

Cornerstone Real Estate Advisors has appointed a European head of investment and is gearing up for a fresh push into European value added investments with senior staff also to be appointed in Spain, France and Italy.

The US firm, which has a global portfolio of $46 billion and European assets of $3.75 billion, has hired Julian Gabriel who has served since 2006 as head of real estate at Doughty Hanson & Co Real Estate, which last year took the decision not to pursue another European opportunity fund.

The hire comes amid rumors Cornerstone is gearing up to launch a European value add fund possibly as early as the second quarter next year. Although the company declined to discuss fundraising matters, it said Gabriel would “be responsible for sourcing new real estate investment and development opportunities across Europe, utilising his 22 years of pan European real estate investment experience”.

The company added that Gabriel would report directly to Charles Weeks, chief executive officer of Cornerstone Europe, the regional subsidiary of Hartford, Connecticut-based Cornerstone Real Estate Advisors, which is itself the real estate arm of MassMutual Financial Group.

Gabriel began his career as a vice president in Citibank's real estate department and then within the principal finance group at Deutsche Bank. He next joined London-based private equity firm Doughty Hanson in 2000 when it established a dedicated real estate platform run by Marc Mogull. In 2006, he was elevated to head of real estate two years after Mogull departed and became responsible for investment strategy, acquisitions, implementing asset management programs and realising investments. He also played a significant role in raising Doughty Hanson & Co European Real Estate Fund II that closed on €590 million in December 2006, the firm said.

It is understood that part of Gabriel's position involves helping the company open up operations in France, Italy and Spain where it aims to hire senior real estate figures in markets it would like a presence in. His role officially begins on 5 January 2015.

The news comes just days after PERE revealed how Invesco Real Estate is launching a Europe value add fund. That move would pit Invesco directly in competition against Cornerstone. That is an intriguing twist given Invesco took on the majority of the Doughty Hanson real estate team last year, except for Gabriel. It is now targeting a fund of between €300 million to €400 million.