Grove hires new senior partner

Michael Profenius, formerly a managing director at Warburg Pincus, has joined the New York-based private equity real estate firm as one of two senior partners, following the reorganisation of the firm last fall to focus its investment activity on the US.

Grove International Partners has tapped Michael Profenius to become senior partner and, in a newly created post, head of business development. Based in the firm’s New York office, he will be responsible for generating new investment opportunities globally, with a current focus on the US. He will be one of two senior partners along with Markus Hens, who heads Grove’s European operations. Both report to managing partner and co-founder Richard Georgi.

Profenius will be charged with identifying investment opportunities for existing platforms of Grove’s third global opportunistic real estate fund, Redwood Grove International, which raised $2 billion in 2007 and currently is about 75 percent invested. The firm plans to deploy the remaining unfunded commitments through follow-on investments of its existing platforms. In addition to sourcing new investments, Profenius also will assist in raising capital for the firm’s fourth real estate fund, which is expected to be launched within the next nine to 18 months.

“Mike is a seasoned and renowned professional with a track record in global real estate investments,” Georgi said in a statement to PERE. “We welcome him to the Grove team and look forward to working with him in capturing new investment opportunities.”

Prior to joining Grove, Profenius was managing director in the real estate group at private equity firm Warburg Pincus, where he was part of a team investing in real estate, hotel and senior housing companies in Asia, the US and Europe. Before joining Warburg Pincus in 2004, he was co-head and managing director of the global investment banking and hospitality group of Merrill Lynch, where he spent 18 years of his career.

The appointment of Profenius follows Grove’s decision last fall to focus its investment activity on the US. Since then, Grove has consolidated its European operations to its Frankfurt and Amsterdam offices and its Asia operations to Tokyo, closing its London and Singapore offices in the process. Meanwhile, the firm recently opened a new office in Los Angeles to pursue investment opportunities on the West Coast.

Currently, Grove has more than 40 employees worldwide, compared with about 50 professionals prior to the firm’s reorganisation last fall. Co-founder Richard Mully, who was based in Europe, retired at the end of 2011 but remains involved as a board member and senior advisor to existing investment companies of the firm's funds.

In an interview with PERE last year, Hens said Grove had been focusing on North America for the past two years because of the increased attractiveness of opportunities in the region. In fact, Georgi relocated two years ago from Japan to the US, where he now is directing efforts on building Grove’s business. Georgi founded Soros Real Estate in April 1999 and spun that business out into Grove in 2004.

Recent US investments by Grove include forming a California-based business called VPI, which closed on two large transactions at the end of 2011 involving redevelopment projects in the creative office markets of Los Angeles and San Francisco, in conjunction with former Center Trust chairman Ned Fox. Grove also established a platform in New York with William Macklowe called WMC, which has the capacity to acquire $1.5 billion of Manhattan real estate.