Starting up: in year two of business with Henderson Park

When ex-Mount Kellett executive Nick Weber launched his European private equity real estate firm Henderson Park in 2016, initial expectations were that its debut investment fund might reach $1.3 billion in equity commitments.

Henderson Park Real Estate Fund I benefited from $500 million in seed capital from sponsors Stone Point Capital, the Greenwich, Connecticut-based private equity firm, sovereign wealth fund Kuwait Investment Authority and New York and Kuwait-based investment manager Wafra Investment Advisory Group.

The target was ambitious for what was effectively a first-time manager, despite Weber’s own decades of experience in European property markets and strong performance record while at Mount Kellett.

Hezy Shalev, a managing director in the wealth management division of US investment bank First Republic, is one Mount Kellett investor that has since backed Henderson Park. In a feature on Nick Weber, published PERE last December, he said: “When we looked at Henderson Park, we cut out the European real estate of Mount Kellett and found that, roughly, the equity multiple was 2.1x and the IRR was 27 percent gross.”

“He’s a little bit of a force of nature and the team he built around him was strong as well. Those factors must have resulted in those buy ratings”

This strong prior track record contributed to the firm blasting through its initial fundraising targets, as did the fast deployment of the fund’s first capital commitments into properties providing strong and immediate cashflows. For example, the firm’s first deal, the Paris hotel Le Meridien Etoile, purchased for €365 million, has already returned €23 million.

Henderson Park Real Estate Fund I has attracted $1.6 billion to date, with a further $600 million raised in co-investment vehicles. Today, Henderson Park has found itself in the enviable position where it is turning certain would-be investors away.  The total capital haul, come its final closing early next year, is anticipated to approach the €2 billion mark – far beyond initial expectations.

He said while Weber’s prior performance and reputation have played key roles in garnering such support, Henderson Park’s biggest win was its six buy ratings from private real estate consultants, gatekeepers to some of the world’s biggest and most influential institutional investors.

The firm declined to discuss its capital raising, but PERE understands consultants including Aon Hewitt, Mercer and Rocaton Investment Advisers, approved Henderson Park Real Estate Fund I.

Another source accredited Henderson Park’s seed supporters for giving the firm its initial momentum but he said it is hard for first-time managers to receive so much backing from consultants: “He’s a little bit of a force of nature and the team he built around him was strong as well. Those factors must have resulted in those buy ratings,” he said. “It’s tough to do what he’s done.”

The fund’s first closing of $950 million happened in October 2017, just seven months after the firm’s launch. Henderson Park fundraising has also been supported by advisory group Lazard as its placement agent.

Click here to read PERE’s feature on Nick Weber.

Weber: ‘it’s tough to do what he’s done,’ said one source