EXCLUSIVE: Oaktree reshuffles for European drive

Managing directors Manish Desai and Ben Bianchi have been moved over from US-focused work to help with a drive to expand in Europe alongside senior vice president David Snelgrove.

Oaktree Capital Management has reallocated two senior members of its management to Europe as it looks to expand its presence on the continent, PERE's sister publication Real Estate Capital, reported today.

Managing directors Manish Desai and Ben Bianchi have been moved over from US-focused work to help with the drive alongside senior vice president David Snelgrove. Bianchi is understood to be located in London only part time whilst Desai is based in Europe permanently.

Despite the dramatic recovery in pricing in continental Europe in the past year, US-based private equity firms continue to venture there to look for value with their domestic market and Asian markets offering lower returns.

Bianchi joined the Los Angeles-based company earlier this year having previously been global head of Deutsche Bank’s special situations group. Whilst at Deutsche he was responsible for $5bn of distressed real estate debt and assets and worked in New York, London and Hong Kong.

Desai has been with Oaktree for 10 years and is involved in acquisitions, disposals, financings and refinancings, asset management, development and corporate transactions across the company’s real estate funds.

The private equity player wants to make a particular push into the rapidly recovering Spanish market. In July Oaktree made its first acquisition in Spain – the 41,000 sq m Gran Via shopping centre in Vigo from CBRE Investors for €115m. The deal is understood to have been financed by Credit Suisse.

Oaktree is considering acquiring distressed debt, offices in Madrid and Barcelona, leisure and retail assets as well as blocks on the country’s beleaguered coastal residential market. It has also begun searching for opportunities in Italy.

In April Oaktree agreed to buy €850m of non-performing loans held against German assets for around €650m from Nationwide building society in a deal codenamed Project Adelaide.

However, thus far Oaktree’s direct asset acquisitions this cycle in Europe have focused predominantly on the UK. This year its purchases have included three regional business parks from MEPC for £430m, the £127m Citrus mixed-use portfolio from Carisbrooke and Revcap (both with Patrizia) and the £200m industrial Fusion portfolio bought from Lone Star alongside Anglesea Capital.