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Cornerstone makes senior European hire ahead of fund launches

Cornerstone has appointed Jorge Duarte as a European director of fund management responsible for both fund-raising and deployment of capital.

Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers, the Connecticut-based fund manager, has hired Jorge Duarte as a European director of fund management, according to sister publication Real Estate Capital.

Duarte joins from AXA Real Estate, where he managed six funds, to be responsible for both fund-raising and deployment of capital. He will report to Cornerstone’s European chief investment officer Nick Pink.

Cornerstone is planning to launch a core pan-European fund and a value-add fund. Both will be seeded with capital from Cornerstone’s parent Massachusetts Mutual Insurance Co with between $100m and $200m each.

Cornerstone is expanding its European business by appointing country heads and opening offices in France, Italy and Spain. Last month the group recruited Valeria Falcone from Carlyle to head a Milan office.

However, Julian Gabriel, who joined in December as head of European investment and who was to have led the value-add strategy, has decided to leave. He said it was a difficult decision, but “having worked in the real estate industry for circa 24 years I have decided to leave the industry and focus my efforts and priorities on other avenues, in particular charitable work.”

Cornerstone said his departure was “disappointing” and it has a shortlist to find a replacement for Gabriel.

At AXA Real Estate, Duarte managed the European Value Add Fund and AXA Property Trust among others. He was previously at Howard Holdings where he invested in Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Nick Pink said: “As we continue with the organic expansion of our European platform, Jorge’s deep knowledge and experience of Southern Europe will be invaluable to the business going forward.”

Last month, Cornerstone’s global CEO Scott Brown told Real Estate Capital that it is also an aspiration to put together a high-yield debt fund for Europe, “probably in 2016.”