Human capital gains

The private equity real estate firm founded by former Grubb & Ellis chairman Anthony Thompson has been in aggressive expansion mode with several new hires in the past four months.

As the opportunities for private equity real estate firms continue to mount amid the credit dislocation, many firms have been strategically boosting their human capital. For Irvine, California-based Thompson National Properties – which counts a former NFL American football quarterback, Cade McNown, among its pack – their expansion has been somewhat more aggressive than others.

Since launching the firm in May this year, founder Anthony Thompson, former Grubb and Ellis chairman, has been on a hiring spree. The past five months alone have seen 20 different appointments in a bid to service the firm's four real estate funds.

In September, the firm added Neil Miller as chief operating officer and general counsel to work on the firm's joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, product development and operations and legal direction. Miller was previously executive vice president and chief financial officer at Guardian Companies, a group of real estate and operating companies with operations in Arizona and California, and was also executive vice president and chief financial officer at American Golf Corporation and National Golf Properties. Two months prior, the firm appointed former California-based residential real estate investment firm IHP Capital Partners' senior vice president and controller, Johnna Howard, as Thompson's new chief financial officer.

In August, the firm opened an office in New York at the same time as adding former Wachovia Securities director, Robert Cade, as managing director charged with targeting real estate debt. Mark Osgood, Thompson managing partner and president of the firm's debt fund, told PERE it saw opportunities in the market with the deleveraging of banks.

Thompson has been gearing much of this real estate talent toward stewardship of the firm's real estate funds. In June, Thompson appointed Lauri Schutz as chief financial officer of its $250 million opportunity fund, the Bruin Fund. Schutz was the former finance vice president of senior housing operator Renaissance Senior Living. For its Middle East fund, Thompson hired a former Grubb and Ellis senior vice president as chief investment officer and president to manage the fund.

The firm's debt fund, TNP Debt Fund, will be overseen by Cade, chief investment officer for the fund. Cade was previously director at Wachovia Securities in the real estate capital markets group prior to joining Thompson in August. He has also worked at RAIT Investment Trust, Merrill Lynch and Chase. The firm also has a value-add real estate fund called TNP Vulture Fund.

For Thompson and his newly launched private equity enterprise, the added human power are fairly nice pickings for a firm that only made its debut five months ago.

Former Cornerstone exec joins Buchanan Street
Dominic Petrucci, former chief operating officer of Cornerstone Real Estate Funds, has joined Newport Beach, California-based Buchanan Street Partners as chief financial officer. Petrucci was previously chief operating officer of Cornerstone. Petrucci was also previously president of Koll Development Company's Intermountain Division, and also served as chief financial officer at Koll International, Kitchell Corporation and Koll Construction. In his new position, Petrucci will be responsible for corporate finance, investment accounting and reporting, information technology, risk management and regulatory compliance. Buchanan Street, a subsidiary of US investment management firm The TCW Group, added Wayne Brandt earlier this year as managing director in its Los Angeles office, overseeing investments in value-add opportunities.

Quebec pension names CEO
Canadian pension fund, Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, has appointed chief investment officer Richard Guay as its new president and chief executive officer. Guay has been interim chief executive officer since May 30 when he took over the responsibilities of Henri-Paul Rousseau. Rousseau left the pension to join Canadian management firm Power. Rousseau remained on as an advisor to Caisse until August 31. Guay joined the pension fund manager in 1995, becoming the firm's first chief investment officer when the position was established in 2006. He will retain that position, which has a five-year renewable term, “until further notice.”

Ex-Wachovia manager heads Perseus funds
Washington, DC-based Perseus Realty Partners has appointed Robert Kelly as director of asset management, a newly created position at the firm. He will report directly to Perseus president and founder, Paul Dougherty. Kelly will oversee the firm's real estate investment portfolios for its Perseus Capital City Fund and Perseus Realty Partners II, a real estate investment vehicle targeting $200 million. In his new position, Kelly will also oversee communications with developers and investors as well as property managers, leasing agents, vendors, tenants and senior management. Prior to joining Perseus, Kelly was vice president and senior asset manager at Wachovia Bank in Bethesda, Maryland, where he managed the bank's structured finance equity investments.

JER expands Latin America team
Carlos Mateos has joined McLean, Virginia-based private equity real estate firm JER Partners as vice president of risk management for its Latin American investments. Mateos will oversee the firm's risk management activities for its Latin American real estate vehicles. He will be based in Sao Paulo and will report to Ariel Amavizca, director and head of risk management. Mateos was previously with General Electric where he was risk direction with GE Capital Solutions Latin America, based in Mexico City.

Hampshire invests in NJ industrial, office
The Hampshire Companies has acquired more than 240,000 square feet of industrial and office properties in a series of deals through their latest value-added real estate vehicle, Hampshire Partners Fund VII. The properties – located in South Hackensack, Somerset and New Providence, in New Jersey – cover a total of 19 acres, and comprise 85,000 square feet of office buildings and around 158,000 square feet of industrial property.

Broadway Partners exits Boston offices
Broadway Partners exits Boston offices New York-based Broadway Partners has sold 200 State Street in Boston to GLL Real Estate Partners for $167 million. The 16-story, 302,143-squarefoot Class A office building is located in Boston's financial district. Broadway acquired the property in 2007. The building's tenants include Eaton Vance Management Corporation, Beacon Capital Partners, The Parthenon Group and law firm Morgan, Brown & Joy. The deal is the first major acquisition in Boston for Munich-based GLL Real Estate Partners. Broadway Partners invests primarily in office properties in the US.

Lubert-Adler, Related buy Florida condos
Philadelphia-based private equity real estate firm Lubert-Adler and private multifamily developer The Related Group have acquired four condo developments in Florida in a deal worth $100 million. The properties, which comprise around 500 condo units, were purchased through the $1 billion real estate fund raised by the duo in February. The fund was raised to take advantage of distress in Florida, purchasing property and mortgages from troubled developers, lenders and property owners. Jordan Paul, senior management director of the Lubert-Adler/Related fund, said the assets were purchased at “significant discounts.”

Carlyle targets distressed residential
The Carlyle Group and New York-based GFI Capital Resources have formed a $300 million joint venture to target US distressed residential properties. With leverage, the joint venture could acquire up to $1.2 billion of residential real estate. GFI executive vice president of acquisitions and dispositions, Michael Weiser, said the joint venture was looking to purchase around 30,000 apartments in the US, including New York.