JER targets Latin America

JER Partners has convened a high-profile advisory board to direct its investment interests throughout Latin America.

McLean, Virginia-based JER Partners, the global real estate investment arm of the JE Robert Companies, has established an advisory board to support its expansion into Latin America. The board will advise JER on political, economic and property markets affecting its investments in the region.

“We are excited to have such a distinguished group of people advising on our expansion into Latin America, which we believe offers numerous attractive investment opportunities,” Joseph Robert, chairman and chief executive office of JER, said in a statement. “All of the members of our board, with their extraordinary backgrounds and wealth of experience, enhance JER’s ability to achieve its objectives in Latin America.”

The board is chaired by José María Aznar, the former Prime Minister of Spain. Other members include Pedro Aspe, principal of Evercore Partners and the former Secretary of Finance of Mexico; Roberto Dañino, deputy chairman and executive director of Hochschild Mining and the former Prime Minister of Peru; Francisco Gros, president of OGX S.A. and the former head of Brazil’s Central Bank and of the Petrobras oil company; James Harmon, chairman of Harmon & Co. and former chairman of the US Export-Import Bank; Moisés Naím, editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy, chairman of the Group of Fifty and former Minister of Trade and Industry of Venezuela; Alvaro Saieh Bendeck, chairman of Chilean media conglomerate Copesa and vice-chairman of Corpbanca, and Alejandro Santo Domingo, managing director of Quadrant Capital Advisors.

In June, JER signed an agreement with Argentine holding company Euromayor S.A. de Inversiones, a member of real estate developer ECIPSA Group, to make an initial investment of $10 million in the company, with the right to contribute up to $26.25 million at the same per share purchase price paid for the initial $10 million. The firm’s capital contribution will be used to fund Euromayor’s current projects as well as those initiated during the rest of 2007.

“We are enthusiastic about the real estate opportunities throughout South America,” Robert said in a statement at the time. “We believe the ECIPSA Group is the right strategic partner for us as we enter Argentina, and we look forward to expanding into other markets throughout the region.”

Euromayor’s current projects include Valle Escondido, the first master planned community in the interior of the country; TierrAlta Ecopueblo; Valle del Golf, which include a 27-hole golf course designed by Nicklaus Design, the CasaMagna residential tower development in Mendoza and the housing plan Natania for the middle income segment of the market, present in several major Argentine cities.

Latin America has attracted interest from a multitude of investors recently. Last year, Los Angeles-based Paladin Realty Partners raised $200 million for its second Latin America fund targeting residential projects in Mexico, Brazil and Chile.

In January of this year, Lehman Brothers Real Estate Partners teamed up with Brazilian private equity firm GP Investments and six other firms to form a $400-million property venture, BR Properties, focused on Brazil. In the same month, Equity International, Sam Zell’s emerging markets investment firm, closed its third private equity real estate vehicle EI Fund III with $300 million. The firm’s first two funds largely targeted Latin America.

When asked whether JER was raising a Latin American fund, a spokesperson for the firm declined to comment.