Madison Marquette adds MD for investment push

The Washington DC-based retail real estate firm has appointed Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse veteran Arvind Bajaj to head up its investment arm as part of its plans to expand its portfolio.

As a means of expanding its investment activities and broadening its portfolio, Madison Marquette has hired a veteran of Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse to head up its investment arm, as well as appointing a new director of investments. 

The Washington DC-based retail real estate investment and operating firm recently hired Arvind Bajaj as a managing director of Madison Marquette Property Investments (MMPI). According to a statement issued by the firm, the move is part of a strategic effort by Madison Marquette to grow and broaden its investment opportunities. 

In his new post, Bajaj will be building the investment capabilities in MMPI’s New York office in collaboration with Madison Marquette’s national investment team at the firm’s Washington headquarters, as well as in its San Francisco and Los Angeles offices. His efforts will focus on expanding the firm’s investment management business, both in terms of new acquisition opportunities as well as new capital partners. 

Bajaj will report directly to Amer Hammour, chairman and chief executive officer of Madison Marquette. In a statement, Hammour said of Bajaj: “He will play a significant role in our strategic efforts to grow our investment portfolio.” 

“Madison Marquette is a very stable platform with a strong reputation as a vertically-integrated real estate operating company,” Bajaj told PERE. “The idea of helping them expand their investment management business was very attractive to me.” He added that a “big part” of Madison Marquette’s strategy moving forward will be to look at “capital outside the US.”

With six offices in the East Coast and four on the West Coast, the firm has a leg up in reaching out further to foreign investors because it has operations in markets attractive to large offshore institutional investors. “When the world thinks about US real estate, that’s the focus – the markets that we’re already in,” Bajaj said. 

Hammour told PERE via email that he hopes to double the firm’s assets under management—currently at $2 billion—in “the next four to five years.” In addition, the firm intends to finalise its development projects. 

“We have several retail and mixed-use development projects that we hope to start construction on in the next 12 months,” Hammour said. Some are new, such as the Wharf, a 3 million-square-foot mixed-use waterfront project in Washington DC, and some have been delayed by the recession, such as Montgomery Promenade, a 270,000-square-foot retail project north of Princeton, New Jersey. 

Although neither Hammour nor Bajaj would comment on the firm’s fundraising activities, sources familiar with the situation have confirmed that MMPI is looking to raise capital through two vehicles. One is a US club fund seeking $200 million in equity commitments to invest in $400 million to $500 million worth of core-plus and value-added retail and mixed-use properties in infill and urban markets. The other is a Shariah-compliant fund for Middle Eastern and Asian investors that would target office, multifamily and retail properties in gateway US cities.

Prior to joining Madison Marquette, Bajaj was one of the founding members of Morgan Stanley’s US conduit lending unit, ultimately running European CMBS distribution for the bank. He also served as managing principal at Park Hill Real Estate Group, and, before that, was a managing director with Credit Suisse in London, where he served as head of European CMBS origination and distribution. Most recently, Bajaj served as executive vice president at The Lightstone Group.
In addition to Bajaj’s appointment, Madison Marquette has appointed Ryan Colbert as a director of investments. Colbert brings eight years of real estate private equity experience to his new role at MMPI, serving most recently as a vice president at Lightstone. Prior to Lightstone, he worked at Madison International Realty and WP Carey.