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Deutsche AWM loses senior RE trio in Asia

EXCLUSIVE: The Deutsche Bank platform which is today responsible for the investment bank’s real estate investments has seen its heads of Japan and China depart in the past two months, while previous departures in the region still have yet to be replaced.

Deutsche Asset and Wealth Management (DeAWM), the investment arm of Frankfurt-based investment bank Deutsche Bank responsible for its real estate investments has seen the departure of three of its senior real estate executives in Asia in the past month, PERE has learned.

The three to depart the platform include Akira Tsuruoka, the head of Japan; Michio Matsumoto, head of acquisitions in Japan; and Mark Cho, head of China.

Global property services firm CBRE already has hired Matsumoto as a director and head of acquisitions for Japan, according to a CBRE statement.

It is also understood that a further three senior investment professionals are preparing to leave DeAWM, though their names remain undisclosed. “Some of these individuals have indeed resigned of their own volition but are yet to leave the platform,” Nadir Maruf, Deutsche AWM’s head of real assets, Asia Pacific, told PERE. “In respect of these or specific personnel, it would therefore be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”

At this point, DeAWM has no real estate-specific head of Asia. The Asian platform is understood to now have about 40 staff – including infrastructure investment professionals – spread between Australia, Japan, Korea and Singapore.
As a whole, though, Asia makes up a comparatively small proportion of DeAWM’s assets, totaling only €5 billion of the platform’s €47 billion under management.

“The Alternatives and Real Assets (ARA) business within DeAWM in Asia Pacific is focused on delivering market leading investment performance for our key clients in markets where the platform has considerable track record and local strength,” Maruf said. “In the direct real estate business in [Asia Pacific], the long-term plan to which we have committed includes a strengthening of activities in mature-like markets in Asia (including Singapore, Japan, Australia and Korea) where our clients are actively seeking exposure.”

“In 2013, the APAC Real Estate team will end the year with more than €500 million of new transactions completed this year,” Maruf continued. “This will include two acquisitions that we expect to close shortly. Equally, our focus remains on methodically building the fiduciary alternatives business in line with the above strategy and maximizing the potential of a combined Asset and Wealth platform.”

Deutsche’s commitment to the RREEF platform has been in question since the bank put the business up for sale in 2010 and that has led to a number of departures from its Asia real estate business. Amid negotiations over a sale to New York-based financial services firm Guggenheim Partners, head of Asia real estate Niel Thassim and chief investment officer Paul Keogh left the platform and took up positions at Brookfield Asset Management and Australian Super, respectively. Although the sale collapsed and the platform was included again in the bank’s strategy, their roles are yet to be filled.