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Cornerstone opens in Paris and appoints France head – exclusive

The latest country head appointment rounds off a year of significant European expansion by Cornerstone, which has seen it opened three offices and made five senior hires in 2015.

Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers, the Hartford, Connecticut-based real estate investment manager, has opened a Paris office and named Séverine Laffineur as head of France as it rounds off its European development.

Laffineur will be reporting to Nick Pink, chief investment officer – Europe, and will be responsible for originating real estate investment opportunities in the region. She will also work on sourcing capital from French institutions for investment into Cornerstone’s debt and equity products in the US and Europe.

Laffineur, who joins from Standard Life Investments where she spent four years in European portfolio management, is the third European country head appointment and fifth senior European hire Cornerstone has made in 2015.

The opening of the Paris office is the latest stage in the expansion of Cornerstone’s European business, following the recent openings of Cornerstone’s Spanish office in Madrid, Italian office in Milan and several senior appointments, including: Albert Yang as managing director and head of business development – Europe; Jorge Duarte as director of fund management – Europe, Valeria Falcone as country head of Italy; and Adolfo Favieres as country head of Spain.

Last year, Cornerstone boosted its global expansion strategy in Europe with the bolt-on of €1 billion firm Pamera Asset Management in Germany.

“Following the expansion in Germany last year through the acquisition of Pamera, 2015 has been another year of major expansion for Cornerstone in Europe, having achieved our goal of opening offices in Italy, Spain and France,” said Charles Weeks, chief executive – Europe for Cornerstone. “Together with our other senior hires, we now have significant capabilities in key European countries which will underpin our growth plans.”

The growth plans see will the firm launch pan-European funds early next year. Cornerstone declined to comment on the fundraising, but sources indicate that one is expected to be a core open-ended fund and the other a value-add product.

The open-ended, core fund will be benchmarked against the most appropriate IPD indices as the portfolio is built up. Although no fundraising currently is underway, it is thought that Cornerstone’s parent, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), will seed each fund with between $100 million and $200 million of sponsor equity.