European banking jobs hit by credit crunch

At the same time that top jobs disappear at large investment banks and property lenders, private equity real estate firms are turning to the sector for talented dealmakers.

The financial turmoil has seen thousands of investment banking jobs lost across Europe, and it has now also reached the senior property banking stratum.

One of the most recently disclosed casualties is Seth Lieberman, managing director of real estate finance in the investment banking division of Swiss bank UBS, which is cutting 2,000 jobs globally. According to reports, Lieberman has been working on a mezzanine debt fund but has agreed to leave the company end of the year as part of the bank's cut in exposure to property and securitisation.

A spokesman declined to comment on specific individuals, but sources close to UBS confirmed Lieberman was leaving. The former joint managing director of Hypo Real Estate's investment banking division and a former Lehman Brothers executive director is one of a number of senior property people departing banks amid tumultuous times.

Last month, Georg Funke, chief executive of Hypo Real Estate resigned with immediate effect after the bank received a €50 billion bailout from the German government and several financial organisations in an effort to continue servicing its short term debt requirements. Berndt Knobloch, the chief executive of fellow Germanybased commercial property lender Eurohypo departed at the end of September, though at his own request and for reasons unrelated to the credit crunch, according to the bank.

However the shake up of Europe's top real estate bankers comes as private equity real estate firms are turning to the industry for fresh talent – not least to boost their investment programmes in real estate debt.

Earlier this summer, London-based Brockton Capital announced Morgan Stanley's head of loan origination in the UK was joining the firm. Simon Samuels joined in August just as Brockton prepared to raise its second fund.

Last month, another senior Morgan Stanley professional left the bank to join a private equity real estate firm. Stephen White, most recently cohead of mortgage origination and execution in Europe for Morgan Stanley joined the London office of Cambridge Place Investment Management as chief investment officer. He will take an active role in the management of the Talisman, CPIM European Debt Opportunity Fund jointly run with the UK's William Pears Group. The fund will invest in commercial mortgage-backed securities, residential mortgage-backed securities and asset backed securities. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, White was a senior portfolio manager at asset manager Neuberger & Berman.

And in another hire, PERE understands that a senior European real estate executive of an investment bank will soon be revealed as the head of a global real estate fund of funds at an Italy-based private equity and alternative asset manager.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research consultancy said in October that 28,000 city workers would lose their jobs in London this year and a further 34,000 next year. That's plenty of pickings for private equity real estate.

JER appoints debt specialist
JER Partners, the Virginia-based private equity commercial real estate investment division of JE Robert Companies, has hired David Merchant from London hedge fund Cheyne Capital to lead its new European debt business. As managing director, Merchant will report to European head Malcolm Le May, as well as Mark Weiss, president of JER's affiliate, Commercial Debt Advisors.

HDG hires European deal head
HDG Mansur Investment Services, the international private equity real estate firm, has appointed George Herold in its London office as head of acquisitions in the UK and Europe. The company said Herold would fill the position left vacant by Richard den Hartigh. Herold was previously at UK company Matrix Property Fund Management.

Valad beefs up in Europe
Valad Property Group, the Australian-listed real estate company, has beefed up its investment capabilities by hiring Robert Rackind as investment manager for Europe. Rackind joins from Cambridge Place Investment Management, where he was real estate head of asset management based in London from April 2006. Valad specialises in value-added investments.

GE continues debt drive
Following the appointment of Mike Bryant as managing director of international debt recently, GE Real Estate has made Melanie Collett head of debt business development in the UK. GE also appointed Frank Roseen managing director for GE Real Estate Central Europe. His appointment follows the departure of Karim Habra, Christopher Zeuner and Petr Kosar to establish a platform in Central and Eastern Europe for JER Partners.

Corestate hires Alexander Hoff
Corestate Capital, the Zurich-based firm, has appointed Alexander Hoff as chief investment officer. Hoff was most recently chief executive at Australian-owned GPT Halverton Germany, Corestate said in a statement. He will be responsible for international expansion of the real estate and investment portfolio as well as helping structure new funds.

Benson Elliot hires three
London-based Benson Elliot Capital Management has hired Joseph DeLeo as partner and director of portfolio management. DeLeo comes from Fortress Investment Group where he directed 40 professionals overseeing Germany. Chris Coulson, development director, was most recently at Lordship Estates, an investor and developer in Central and Eastern Europe. In a third hire, the firm has taken on Dorothee Wintle, a member of the New York and Paris legal bars, as general counsel.

Activum takes on Fortress pro
Activum, the European real estate investor and turnaround manager has appointed Axel Kochsiek as a partner and head of asset management. Kochsiek comes from Fortress Investment Group where he was head of the leasing strategies for Eurocastle. Activum was started by former Cerberus Germany real estate head, Saul Goldstein.

Apollo completes German deal
New York's Apollo Real Estate Advisors has invested part of its $1.4 billion dedicated European vehicle, Apollo European Real Estate III, in German property. The portfolio comprises 50 retail units in predominantly out-of-town locations in western Germany.

Heitman steps in for Euro projects
Heitman has invested part of its €350 million Heitman European Property Partners Fund III in two development joint ventures in Slovakia. Heitman and Slovakian investment and real estate developer, Grunt, have formed a JV to develop the Breètanka residential project, in the Koliba district of Bratislava, and a second project in Pekn á cesta, in the same city

Tishman, UBS German deal collapses
Tishman Speyer and joint venture partner UBS Real Estate Finance have seen the sale of their German Opernturm Tower collapse due to sudden loss of confidence in the rental prospects of the finanical sector. A KanAM spokesman told Reuters: “The reason is the current turbulence in financial markets, which is making the outlook for banks uncertain. At this stage the fund does not want to increase its rental exposure to the financial industry.”

Arminius buys €300m of debt
Arminius Real Estate Opportunity Fund, the Germanyfocused vehicle managed by Peter Jun, has acquired a second portfolio of commercial real estate loans from Deutsche Bank. The 13 second ranking loans were valued at around €300 million. In August, AREOF closed on a portfolio of 18 performing subordinate real estate loans from Deutsche totalling €325 million.

HSBC in talks to buy back HQ
HSBC is in talks to buy back its UK headquarters in Canary Wharf for £300 million ($519 million; €387 million) less than the price it sold it for. Spain's Metrovacesa acquired the building for £1.1 billion in 2007. The Spanish property company has been forced to sell assets at a loss to restructure more than £7 billion of debt, according to the Financial Times.

Moorfield buys retirement home
Moorfield Group's second real estate fund, Moorfield Real Estate Fund II, has invested £15m ($25.7 million; €19.3 million) in the UK's senior living sector. The London-based firm said the acquisition was for a 75 percent stake in the company, Raven Audley Court, a specialist developer and manager of independent living facilities for the elderly. The firm will also invest around £40 million of working capital for Audley's future funding needs, site purchases and new developments.

Pramerica buys in France
Pramerica, the private equity real estate arm of insurance company Prudential, has bought two office properties in Lyon, France for €56 million. The seller was Invista Real Estate's publicly listed trust, Invista European Real Estate Trust. One office is located in Ecully, Lyon and the other is at Villeurbanne, Lyon.