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Gaw makes second US hire

The Hong Kong-based firm is beefing up the team of its new US entity with the hire of Ashish Gupta as senior vice president for acquisitions.

Gaw Capital Partners USA, the new US-focused entity of the China-focused real estate firm, has made its second hire with the appointment of Ashish Gupta as the platform’s senior vice president for acquisitions, according to a firm statement.

This is Gaw USA’s second hire, after the appointment of Tim Walsh from the New Jersey Division of Investment (NJ DOI) as its president and chief operating officer. Both will be based in the soon-to-be-opened New York office of Gaw USA, and Gupta will be responsible for US investments for the firm, with a focus on projects located on the east coast and other select knowledge- and innovation-based markets such as Austin, Texas.

“We are happy to welcome Ashish to our growing family,” Goodwin Gaw, chairman and managing principal of Gaw Capital Partners, said in the statement. “He has deep transactional experience in many facets of real estate investing and lending and I am grateful for his confidence in our platform to make this important move to us.”

Prior to joining Gaw USA, Gupta was a senior vice president at Lehman Brothers where he was responsible for overseeing the restructuring, asset management and monetization of a 30 million square foot office portfolio of debt and equity positions in the US. Through restructurings and recapitalizations, he was able to deliver an estimated $2.5 billion recovery to Lehman.

Prior to Lehman’s bankruptcy filing in September 2008, Gupta also completed approximately $17 billion in property- and entity-level acquisitions in several major US markets on behalf of a balance sheet equity product at Lehman. He was also named as one of the “40 under 40” by Real Estate Forum this October.

Gupta joins Gaw USA just after the launch of a $500 million US-focused opportunistic real estate fund. The vehicle is expected to facilitate investments in properties that can be repositioned or redeveloped. The initial focus will be on office and hospitality properties in urban locations, property types with which Gaw’s other entity Downtown Properties has extensive experience.

“I look forward to helping build on the success of our widely-respected operations in Asia and delivering exceptional returns in the US through investment in under-managed and under-capitalized assets,” Gupta added in the statement.

Gupta told PERE that he was most drawn to Gaw Capital's “dynamic platform” and “track record of success investing across the risk spectrum.” He believes Gaw Capital is poised to lead, not trail, global capital flows. Going into 2014, Gupta's goals are primarily to complete Gaw USA's fundraising as well as grow its complementary separate accounts and lending businesses.

Gaw USA, together with Downtown, is currently managing a US club vehicle of more than $868 million across 10 investments with a projected IRR of more than 20 percent.  In the last three years, Gaw Capital and Downtown Properties have also assisted strategic Asian institutional investors in seven separate account direct investments.

In October, Gaw also closed its fourth Asia fund on its $1 billion hard cap, less than a year after launching it. It is one of the largest private equity real estate capital hauls for China since the onset of the global financial crisis.