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Former Brookfield head Brush joins Spanish group

The private equity real estate veteran has started working for a soon-to-be-floated opportunistic real estate investment platform in Spain.

David Brush, the former Brookfield and RREEF boss, has joined Merlin Properties, a newly-created Spanish SOCIMI poised for an initial public offering.

Merlin is being raised to acquire “fully-leased, high-quality” Spanish real estate, with an onus on the Iberian region, according to an announcement by the firm on Monday. Investments in Portugal might also be made.

Brush, who was most recently head of Europe at Brookfield Asset Management and, before that, head of RREEF’s opportunistic investing business, has joined as chief investment officer.

He will work alongside Ismael Clemente and Miguel Ollero, the founders of Merlin’s sponsor MAGIC Real Estate, a Spanish asset and investment manager with €2.8 billion of assets on its books. Brush worked with Clemente when both were at RREEF, now part of Deutsche Bank’s Asset and Wealth Management platform.

MAGIC is reportedly looking to raise as much as €500 million from the IPO. According to Merlin, it would be the largest property company raised as a SOCIMI – the Spanish equivalent of a REIT – by market capitalization. MAGIC already invests in Spain alongside Blackstone, among other opportunistic investment firms.

Opportunistic real estate groups are increasingly looking to the public markets as a means to raise capital from institutional investors quickly and cost-efficiently. This trend is evident in Spain, with firms like Grupo Lar and Lar Espana Real Estate in February, and Azora earlier this month, looking to capitalise on the resurgent Spanish public market.