Stockholm-based asset manager NREP has tapped former head of strategy Claus Mathisen to be its next chief executive officer, replacing co-founder Mikkel Bülow-Lehnsby.

New chief executive: Claus Mathisen

Bülow-Lehnsby, who co-founded the investment manager in 2005, was chief executive for seven years. He took the position of chief executive in 2011 when the firm transitioned from being led by six partners to a central C-suite leadership structure to bring more clarity to individual roles. Now, the responsibilities will be transferred to Mathisen while Bülow-Lehnsby turns his attention to launching new initiatives and maintaining investor relations.

Mathisen joined NREP in 2008, and immediately opened the firm’s self-storage business, Pelican Self Storage. Pelican started with a 10-year plan that aimed to take advantage of the lack of competition in the market and growing consumer need for space, according to Mathisen. It has expanded to 34 locations across Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

His experience with Pelican Self Storage where he spotted a business opportunity and executed a long-term plan is the core of why he was chosen to be the next leader of NREP, Mathisen said.

“My focus on leadership and internal organization building is stronger than Mikkel’s has been, so we are dividing and conquering,” he told PERE.

He intends to bring the strategic perspective that he picked up during his years overseeing Pelican Self Storage to NREP as a whole. A priority will be tracking demographics to anticipate customer needs and make decisions to execute on a long-term vision, according to Mathisen.

Of course, taking on the role of chief executive will be different from leading Pelican Self Storage. He acknowledged that there will be more complexity and a larger team to oversee. He will be responsible for scaling up the different initiatives launched over the years, he said. These include a retail platform, student housing, senior housing, and logistics business among others.

“It is primarily about operationalizing and accelerating our existing strategy, as opposed to saying that NREP needs to be a different animal under my tenure,” Mathisen said.

The firm will also make sustainability a key factor when assessing new investments, Mathisen said. He also aims to expand the current NREP sustainability team.

Since 2005, NREP has grown to 150 employees and has launched nine funds. The firm invests across real estate businesses and property types including self-storage, logistics, multifamily residential, retail, student housing and senior housing. The Nordic real estate manager holds €4bn assets under management, according to its website.