Dutch expansion

Following a year of increased commitments, ING Real Estate has appointed a new chief executive officer for development.

Following a year of big commitments to its Dutch funds, ING Real Estate recently appointed Menno Maas as the chief executive officer for development, as well as a member of the firm's real estate management board.

The position, effective this July, sees Maas assuming the overall responsibility for the company's global development activities. He will report to George Jautze, ING's chief executive officer for real estate.

Writing in Holland Real Estate magazine in 2003, Maas indicated improvement could be made in the Dutch real estate market. “The Dutch housing market is performing badly,” he wrote. “There is a shocking lack in the availability of mid-priced houses for rent and purchase. There is also no movement, due to the insufficient availability of attractive new developments.” He suggested new development and the liberalization of the rental market as ways to stimulate growth.

Maas comes to ING from Amsterdam-based property company Amvest Woginfonds, where he was chief executive officer. Amvest, which has a €2.6-billion residential portfolio and an additional €1.5 billion in projects under development, was formed when Dutch pension fund PGGM and life insurance company Aegon merged their real estate investment activities in 1997. Three years later, Amvest merged with Rodamco Continental Europe, with the housing-focused Amvest unit spinning out.

Prior to Amvest, Maas worked as a project developer for Dutch bank ABN AMRO until 1991, when he joined the real estate department of PGGM. Maas is also no stranger to academic work. He continues to teach at the Amsterdam School of Real Estate and the Neprom Institute for Project Development. Prior to 1985, he worked as a scientific researcher at the Free University of Amsterdam. Maas has a degree in social geography and planning sciences from the University of Groningen.

One month prior to Maas' appointment, ING had named Martin Sabelko as a managing director for investment management in Central Europe. Sabelko is responsible for local management of the ING Property Fund Central Europe. The Austrian native comes to ING from his own consulting firm, Sabcon Immobilienberatung.

With around €400 million flowing into ING funds last year, it is no surprise the Dutch insurance giant is filling out its team. According to the firm, capital commitments to its Netherlands-focused vehicles more than doubled in 2005 relative to commitments in 2003 and 2004. ING's Dutch residential vehicle attracted 14 new investors and €224 million, while its Dutch office fund attracted €8 million from one new shareholder.

Aberdeen appoints French director
Stockholm-based Aberdeen Property Investors has appointed Jacques-Yves Nicol as the new managing director for its recently established French real estate business. Previously, Nicol was a managing director at New York-based investment company Tishman Speyer, where he headed up the firm's French real estate business. An international finance and banking veteran, Nicol has held senior positions with a number of firms including AIG, AXA, Bouygues and Bank of America. Aberdeen has more than €8 billion in property assets under management across a number of strategies and geographies. In a statement, the firm has said the new French line is in response to European property investors looking for crossborder transactions on the continent.

PGGM names new COO
Dutch pension fund Stichting Pensioenfonds PGGM has appointed Marc van den Berg as the chief operating officer for investments. Van den Berg has reportedly been working with PGGM as a senior development manager at the €71.5-billion fund, following stints as a partner with accounting firm KPMG and consultancy Nolan, Norton and Company. Johan van der Ende had been acting COO at the pension since March of last year and has been appointed as the director of structured investments; he was formerly with ING. The pension also named Paul Wevers as corporate communications director. PGGM, a pension serving Dutch employees in the healthcare and social work fields, saw a return of 17.6 percent on its real estate investments for the year of 2005.

TKP announces new CIO
Dutch pension TKP Investments has named Roelie van Wijk as chief executive, chief investment officer and president of the investment board. Van Wijk was formerly the head of research at SNS Asset Management, the asset management arm of SNS Bank Nederland trading in socially responsible investments; she also worked as a fixed income portfolio manager at the pension fund for electronics maker Philips, as well as an investment manager focusing on fixed income and treasury bonds at Dutch pension PGGM. Van Wijik is replacing Jan Willem Baan, who became CIO at the Doctors Pension Fund Services late last year.

Deutsche, Citigroup banking swap
The real estate investment banking personnel at two London firm have gone through a strange shake-up: Deutsche Bank's London team is reportedly going to Citigroup, only to be replaced by the Citigroup team. Deutsche UK real estate head Rishi Bhuchar and associate Alexi Antolovich both resigned in early April to take positions at Citigroup. Meanwhile, the German bank poached Ewen MacPherson and Huw Thomas from the Citigroup real estate investment banking group. According to Property Week, Nick Jacobson left Deutsche Bank last fall to head up the Citigroup team, prompting, to some extent, the latest round of defections.

Debenhams could earn backers £1.8bn
Private equity firms CVC Capital Partners, Texas Pacific Group and Merrill Lynch Private Equity could reportedly see a return of up to £1.8 billion (€2.6 billion; $3.1 billion) on their investment in UK department store Debenhams. The investor consortium is planning an IPO for the retailer, which it took private two and a half years ago. The private equity firms invested £600 million in the business in May 2004 and have since returned £1.3 billion to shareholders via two recapitalizations. Debenhams is being valued at between £1.7 billion and £2 billion, via a 195 pence to 250 pence share price. The investors will retain a 40 percent stake in the retailer following the offering.

Colony buys Parisian football team
French television group Canal Plus is reportedly selling football club Paris St. Germain to an investor consortium including real estate investor Colony Capital, as well as French private investment firm Butler Capital Partners and investment bank Morgan Stanley, for €41 million ($51 million). Paris St Germain is currently ranked eighth in the division; it won the Ligue 1 division championship in 1986 and 1994.

Carlyle makes acquisitions across Europe
Over the past month, global private equity firm The Carlyle Group has made real estate acquisitions in Italy, France and Germany. In Italy, the firm acquired a portfolio of 10 real estate assets in Northern cities like Milan, Bologna and Turin for €91 million ($112 million) from Italian insurance company Reale Mutua Assicurazioni Group. In France, Carlyle purchased a portfolio of 34 office and residential assets from Le Banque de France; the firm has announced some of these properties will be sold on a single-asset basis, while others will be repositioned. The firm also recently acquired an office and retail complex in the city center of Hamburg for €19 million.

Deutsche Annington sells development arm
Deutsche Annington, the German portfolio company of London-based private equity firm Terra Firma, has sold its Viterra Development group to the German subsidiary of Luxembourg-based Orco Property Group. Orco paid around €100 million ($124 million) for the Essen, Germany-based property development company and a portfolio of properties, which includes commercial real estate in Berlin, Kohn and Düsseldorf, as well as projects currently being developed in Germany and the Czech Republic. The deal also includes a number of residential projects throughout Germany.

Merrill Lynch acquires London office
McLean, Virginia-based JER Partners and GE Real Estate UK have sold a central London office property to Merrill Lynch Property Fund in a £108 million (€156 million; $193 million) transaction. The 172,425 square-foot, nine-story mixed-use building, has approximately 141,170 square feet of office space and 31,255 square feet of retail space.