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EDITOR'S LETTER: The show must go on

PERE Magazine, March 2009 issue

We are pleased to present our reader-selected winners of this year's Global PERE Awards. This year got more votes than ever, in part the result of our readership having grown tremendously over the past year, and in part the result of the awards themselves having become better recognised as authoritative, peer-to-peer honours (as opposed to us editors simply dreaming up the winners).

That said, it was a bit unusual collecting votes for the global private equity real estate industry in the midst of a cataclysmic downturn. And we're sure that our readers found the process unnerving in certain categories. In a market where nearly everyone's hurting, who's the best?

One answer is that, leading up to September, the market was merely bad, whereas after September it was post-nuclear. The people and firms behind the few deals that were heroically closed in the earlier part of the year no doubt received credit from our readers.

The tale of two 2008s meant that many of our readers continued to have high regard for certain market participants, even after those participants had ceased doing business. On more than one occasion we saw votes coming in for, essentially, a dead candidate. But the winners you'll see in this issue are clearly those groups that seem poised for strength once the market returns to health.

Moving beyond our awards, an important differentiator about real estate as an asset class is that, regardless of what happens to the firms that build, sell, lend to and manage property, the underlying assets will continue to exist. The same can't be said for the hedge fund asset class, and even the private equity asset class. It is possible to invest in a business that goes poof, leaving nothing of value left for anyone to pick up.

Not so real estate. Someone will want the land, or the permits, or the wiring, or the building. Zoe Hughes writes in her focus on the housing market, developers and lenders may evaporate as a result of our economic imbroglio, but they leave behind, for lack of a better term, real estate. How those with capital can actually get to these assets at attractive prices is the subject of the feature, and will be the subject of many burned opportunistic brain cells over the next several years.

Enjoy the issue,

By David Snow
David.s@peimedia.com