DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners shuts Europe HQ

End of an era as DLJ closes its London office to focus the franchise on other parts of the world. DLJ’s European head Carla Giannini is staying with the company.

DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners, the private equity real estate firm that spun out of Credit Suisse bank last year, has decided to shut its European headquarters as it focuses the franchise on other parts of the world.

The recent decision, which is sure to be noted by other major private equity real estate firms with global funds, means DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners is without an office in London for the first time in over a decade.

DLJ decided to axe the European HQ a few weeks ago, sources said, and calls to the serviced office in London’ West End, where the firm had relocated after spinning out from Credit Suisse, were not being connected.

DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners would not comment, but those familiar with its plans say it continues to see opportunity in the European markets, but has decided to focus on its stronger US and China franchises.

It is also thought that Carla Giannini, managing director and European head of DLJ, has remained with the firm, but has relocated to New York.

The first sign to outsiders that DLJ might be winding down its European office came last week, when it emerged that Graham Langlay-Smith, a former European director had left to join new company Wainbridge Limited as chief financial officer. At DLJ, he was responsible for European acquisitions and asset management and was acting as regional chief operating officer and chief financial officer. He declined to comment on his former employer.

DLJ is led in New York by veteran Andrew Rifkin, who has been with the outfit since its inception in 1995.

The platform is large and has recently figured on PERE’s annual 30 ranking of the biggest private equity real estate firms in the world. The private equity real estate business manages four global commingled funds, with committed capital of around $4.1 billion. This year, however, it did not make the cut. 

Prior to spinning out, it was a unit of Credit Suisse Real Estate Investments Group, which managed around $33.5 billion of assets. According to sources familiar with the matter at the time of the separation, the decision was prompted by a difference of opinion over how to scale the business in the future. At the time of the spin out of DLJ, it had offices in New York, Los Angeles, London, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Investors reportedly include Contra County Employees Retirement Association, the North Carolina Department of State Treasurer, the New York State Teachers Retirement System and the Australian Post Superannuation Scheme.

The spin-out marked the end of a 10-year relationship with Credit Suisse, which inherited the platform in 2000 when it took over investment bank, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, in a seismic $11.5 billion deal.

Little has been announced or written about DLJ in the past year or indeed since it became an independent entity. The most recent publicised deal came in July last year, when its fourth fund, DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners IV, purchased 110 acres of office buildings and land in Tysons Corner from West-Group. Cityline Partners was set up as a newly formed affiliate of DLJ for the transaction.

Among those who might take a sentimental view of DLJ’s decision to close in Europe is former head, Scott O’Donnell, who was recruited in 2000 when the firm had a handful of people in London. Giannini was recruited in 2006 having been chief investment officer in continental Europe for Invesco Real Estate.