London calling

Secondary investor Liquid Realty Partners adds a new director of portfolio management as its business grows overseas.

Liquid Realty Partners, a secondary firm focused on acquiring interests in private real estate partnerships, named a familiar face to fill a new role that management says will be key to handling its growing business.

Tracey Luke—a former colleague of managing principal and chief investment officer Jeffrey Giller at J.E. Robert Companies—has filled the new position of director of portfolio management at the San Francisco- and New York-based firm.

In her new role, Luke is responsible for monitoring, managing and reporting on Liquid Realty's portfolio investments.

“We're building our business and therefore building our portfolio management capabilities,” Giller said in reference to the firm's decision to create the position.

Liquid Realty, which closed its second fund on $150 million in 2004, is the only secondary investor solely focused on the private real estate market. However, firms such as Landmark Partners and Credit Suisse also compete in the sector.

“As we expand internationally, her international experience and contact base will be important for our development. She really had the perfect set of skills for the job.”

As for the decision to bring Luke on board, Giller said she “has the right mix of knowledge of real estate assets and workouts and she also has the savvy and the personality to deal effectively with partners.”

Prior to joining Liquid Realty, Luke served as an asset manager at J.E. Robert and has also been a director of marketing and corporate development for San Francisco-based Chela Education Financing, a $2.5 billion financial services firm that offers college loans.

Luke, who holds an MBA from London Business School, said she has returned to her old stomping grounds lately, spending a lot of time in London on behalf of the firm.

In May, Liquid Realty purchased a UK portfolio of assets for £435 million ($775 million, €615 million). The firm bought interests in 10 different Jersey Property Unit Trusts comprising 200 retail, office and industrial properties in a transaction that is believed to be the largest secondary real estate acquisition ever completed.

“As we expand internationally, her international experience and contact base will be important for our development,” said Giller. “She really had the perfect set of skills for the job.”

Liquid Realty was founded in 2002 by chief executive officer Scott Landress, the former head of global real estate investment banking at Bank of America.

Giuliano joins Black Creek Group
Denver-based private equity real estate firm Black Creek Group has hired Jim Giuliano as chief financial officer and chief operating officer. In his new role Giuliano will provide guidance on the company's real estate operating companies, help optimize business platforms and develop the firm's growth plans. Giuliano has 20 years of experience in the real estate industry. He has previously served as CFO of Ontario, California-based Empire Companies and as principal financial officer for operations at Simon Property Group, the largest retail REIT in the US. Companies in Black Creek's portfolio have included Dividend Capital Group, Mexico Retail Properties, Corporate Properties of the Americas and American Real Estate Investment Corporation, the predecessor to Keystone Property Trust. Managing principals include John Blumberg, Jim Mulvhill, Tom Wattles and Evan Zucker.

New CFO for GoldenTree
New York-based real estate investment firm GoldenTree InSite Partners has hired Patrick Goulding, 42, as chief financial officer and director. He previously served as director and head of portfolio finance for ING Clarion, where he also served as CFO of its flagship real estate fund, Clarion Lion Properties Fund. Goulding also spent seven years with Lend Lease, where he worked in real estate investment and development in several positions around the world. Formed last year, GoldenTree InSite Partners is a joint venture between GoldenTree Asset Management, a New York hedge fund, and real estate veterans Tom Shapiro and Josh Pristaw. Last year, the company formed a joint venture to develop a $110 million (€88 million) condominium project near the Hudson River in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Kenwood hires ex-CalPERS pro
Mike McCook, formerly the head real estate investment officer at the California Public Employees' Retirement System, recently joined Kenwood Investments, a San Francisco-based developer and advisory firm. He will reportedly be key in expanding Kenwood's advisory business and fundraising efforts if the firm decides to set up its own opportunity fund. Kenwood's projects include the planned $1 billion (€800 million) redevelopment of the Treasure Island Naval Base in San Francisco. CalPERS had a real estate portfolio of about 100 investment programs when McCook left last year. In fiscal 2005, the portfolio generated a return of 39 percent.

Somera expands East
Santa Barbara, California-based private equity real estate firm Somera Capital Management has brought in veteran commercial real estate executive Thomas Falatko as a senior vice president to manage the firm's new office in Washington DC. Falatko will assist in the firm's entry into the DC market and a planned expansion of its East Coast activities. Prior to joining Somera, he spent six years as a managing director with Madison Marquette, a Washington DC-based retail real estate investor.

Brookfield and Blackstone grab Trizec
Brookfield Properties Corp. and The Blackstone Group have agreed to acquire Trizec Properties in a deal valued at $8.9 billion (€7.1 billion). Trizec, a Chicago-based REIT, owns interests in and manages a portfolio of 61 office properties totaling about 40 million square feet. The joint venture will also acquire the company's Canadian affiliate Trizec Canada, a mutual fund company focused on US real estate through its stake in Trizec properties. Trizec's properties are located in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City and Washington DC.

Istithmar Hotels buys US property
Dubai government-owned Istithmar Hotels has bought the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York's Times Square for $300 million (€240 million). The deal comes shortly after the firm acquired New York-based retail chain Loehmann's. The beaux arts-style, 500-room hotel was financed by John Jacob Astor in the early 1900s but was later converted into an office property in the 1950s. Istithmar says it will convert the building back into a five-star hotel. The building is located at the southeast corner of Broadway and 42nd Street. It was one of the premier hotels in midtown and also one of the tallest buildings in Times Square.

Colony sells Atlantic City land
Colony Capital has agreed to sell an eight-acre parcel of land just south of its Atlantic City Hilton casino-hotel for a reported $88 million (€70 million). The buyer is a consortium that intends to develop a small boutique casino on the property. Any development would have to be restrained because the size of the property is fairly small. There are reports that Wally Barr, the former head of Caesars Entertainment, is among the group. Other reports say Curtis Barshaw, the one-time executive director of the state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, is also part of the buying consortium. Colony acquired the property along with the Atlantic City Hilton and four other casinos from Harrah's Entertainment and Caesars Entertainment in April 2005.

Hampshire Companies buys Alabama facility
The Hampshire Companies, a private real estate fund manager based in Morristown, New Jersey, has acquired a 290,000-square-foot specialized manufacturing facility in Attalia, Alabama for an undisclosed price. The facility is located in Etowah County in the Northeastern section of Alabama between Birmingham and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Approximately 250,000 square feet of the property is occupied by manufacturer Crown Column and Millwork, an existing tenant, who has entered into a long-term lease renewal with Hampshire. The remainder of the property is available for lease.