KKR promotes seven real estate executives

The private equity giant elevated one partner and six managing directors during a year of massive growth for its property business.

KKR Real Estate, the $36 billion real estate investment arm of private equity giant KKR, has promoted seven senior professionals across debt and equity, rewarding significant growth as the business segment reaches its 10th year.

The $459 billion global firm added 18 partners and 42 managing directors across all its business lines. The real estate team promotions were headlined by Joel Traut, head of originations in KKR’s real estate credit team, being promoted to partner in New York.

Since joining the New York-based firm from GE Capital Real Estate in 2015, he has been responsible for business development and originations, with direct involvement in sourcing, underwriting, negotiating and structuring debt investments across products, asset types and geographies.

The manager further bolstered its debt and equity leadership in New York, elevating Paul Fine and Jason Kelley on the credit side and Peter Sundheim and Michael Whyte on the equity side to the role of managing director. Paul Wasserman, an equity professional based in Houston, and Jan Baumgart, an equity-focused executive in Frankfurt, Germany, also received promotions to managing director.

Fine joined KKR in 2015 having previously served at CCRE, a commercial real estate finance affiliate of New York-based financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald. Kelley is the newest member of the team, joining this year from Global Atlantic Financial Group where he was head of credit. KKR acquired Global Atlantic earlier this year.

Sundheim came over to KKR in 2010 from KSL Capital Partners, a Denver-based hospitality-focused manager. Prior to the formation of KKR’s real estate group in 2011, he worked in the firm’s corporate private equity business as part of the media industry team.

Whyte also joined in 2010, having previously served with Swiss investment bank Credit Suisse. He is chief operating officer of KKR Real Estate Select Trust, a new vehicle that launched earlier this year, targeting retail investors in a similar vein to Blackstone Real Estate Investment Trust.

Wasserman is KKR’s head of real estate portfolio and asset management, joining in 2014 from New York-based alternative asset manager Och-Ziff Capital Management, now Sculptor Capital Management.

Baumgart is responsible for property and platform transactions in Germany, the Netherlands and the Nordics. He joined the firm in 2019 as head of real estate in Germany after a stint at Augsburg, Germany-based manager Patrizia.

The appointments follow a year of massive growth for KKR’s real estate business, which almost tripled its assets under management from $11 billion to $32 billion via a series of target-beating fundraises. The latest iterations of the firm’s regional equity opportunistic vehicles, Real Estate Partners Americas III and Real Estate Partners Europe II, closed on $4.3 billion and $2.1 billion in capital commitments, both over target.

The firm also closed its Real Estate Partners Asia fund at the end of last year, raising $1.73 billion against an initial target of $1.5 billion.

“With these closes, we are now a clear top-five opportunistic real estate manager when you aggregate our three regional funds,” Craig Larson, head of investor relations for KKR, said on the firm’s second-quarter earnings call earlier this year. The firm has raised $9.7 billion in the last five years, according to the latest PERE 100 ranking.

On the credit fundraising side, KKR closed on $950 million of commitments with its Real Estate Credit Opportunity Partners II in 2020. The firm is also in the process of raising Real Estate Stabilized Credit Partners, with $210 million in capital commitments thus far, per PERE data.

KKR declined to provide specific comment on the real estate promotions.