Ex-Equity International CEO targets first fund

The private equity real estate firm led by Gary Garrabrant and Thomas McDonald plans to launch its first institutional fund within the year for which it is understood to be targeting $750m.

Jaguar Growth Partners is ramping up its operations, with plans to begin raising its first real estate fund, focusing on growth markets in Latin America, Asia and Africa, within the year.

In support of that effort, it intends to embark on a hiring spree that will include recruiting a new co-head of investments as well as an investor relations person. 

The startup firm has come a long way since its founding last year by Gary Garrabrant and Thomas McDonald, the former chief executive and chief strategic officer, respectively, of Equity International, the Chicago-based private equity real estate firm led by Sam Zell. The two executives had been with EI since its inception in 1999; Garrabrant was co-founder of the firm with Zell, while McDonald had been responsible for investments at the company. Both men left EI in September 2012 and formed Jaguar the following spring.

Now, the firm is said to be eyeing its first property fund, with a likely target of approximately $750 million. It currently is in talks with multiple placement agents and plans on hiring a firm to work on the capital raise within the next several months, with an official fund launch expected to occur soon thereafter.

Similar in strategy to EI, Jaguar will be focused on investing in real estate-related companies and platforms in growth markets across the globe. The firm anticipates that approximately half of its investment activity will be in Latin America – particularly Mexico, the Andes region and Brazil – with the remainder in Asia and Africa.

It currently has identified a pipeline of $2 billion of investment opportunities; in Latin America, this includes a logistics business that is based in Bogota and active in Colombia, Peru and Chile; office, regional mall and hospitality companies in Brazil; and platforms in the for-sale and rental housing, office and retail sectors in Mexico. In Asia, Jaguar is exploring opportunities in real estate specialty finance and for-sale housing financing in India, and more specialized sectors such as car parking and senior housing in China.

In line with its ambitious pipeline, the firm has been actively seeking to bolster its investment team, with the goal of having investment and portfolio managers comprise half of its staff. Jaguar currently is in discussions to bring on an additional five to 10 staff by the end of the year, which would potentially more than double the firm’s current nine-person team. Among the new recruits would be the other co-head of investments, an investor relations professional and additional junior-level employees at the vice president, associate and analyst level.

Jaguar recently recruited Daniel Ho as principal and co-head of its investments team. He previously served as vice president with the real estate and credit funds group at Fortress Investment Group, responsible for sourcing, underwriting and executing opportunistic and special situation real estate investments. Prior to Fortress, he was a founding member of Voras Capital, a multi-strategy hedge fund, and an executive director with Morgan Stanley, where he co-founded a principal real estate debt group in Hong Kong.

The firm declined to comment.