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ING REIM's Lee leaves to set up new platform

ING Real Estate Investment Management European managing director Wilson Lee has left the firm one year after joining to help launch its first global real estate opportunity fund. Plans for the $1.5 billion vehicle were shelved earlier this year.

ING Real Estate European managing director and portfolio manager Wilson Lee has left his position at the firm in order to set up his own fund management platform.

Lee was appointed just over a year ago to lead Europe in ING's launch of a $1.5 billion global real estate opportunity fund, but plans for the vehicle were shelved earlier this year prompting Lee to leave the firm.

Lee, who joined ING from UBS Investment Bank where he was managing director and head of real estate principal finance for Europe, the Middle East and Africa as well as Asia Pacific, will now turn his attention to setting up his own firm after he leaves tomorrow. Prior to UBS, he spent 18 years at Lehman where he established and built their European global real estate platform before leaving in 2004.

ING had started preliminary talks with investors about the global opportunity fund last autumn but following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, investor sentiment took a turn for the worse making the task of fundraising more difficult.

Since shelving the plans for the fund, ING has turned its attentions to asset management instead. The firm is still pursuing opportunistic strategies in Asia however and is keen to expand its fund of funds, segregated accounts business in the US and its real estate securities business.

Lee told PERE the new firm would manage vehicles focused on distressed loans as well as direct real estate investing in the UK and continental Europe and that he was in the midst of establishing a team to lead the effort.

He said: “My move to London in 1996 was prompted by the distressed loan market at the time and the outlook for investing in distressed assets over the next few years is extremely compelling.”