Michael Pralle leaves JER

The chief operating officer of JE Robert Companies has left the firm after just 18 months. It follows the departure of European head Malcom Le May and after sources said the McLean, Virginia-based firm was focusing increasingly on asset management.

Michael Pralle has left JE Robert Companies after just 18 months at the helm.

A company spokesman confirmed Pralle left the McLean, Virginia-based firm a “couple of weeks ago” but declined to say why. The firm said it would not make a statement. Pralle was also unavailable for comment at press time.

Pralle was appointed JER’s chief operating officer in October 2007 by founder Joe Roberts in a bid to grow the private equity real estate firm into a capital-raising “machine” that would rival the likes of Tishman Speyer and The Carlyle Group.

In an interview with PERE last June, the former president of GE Real Estate said he intended to build the firm into a global brand, with plans to triple the firm’s assets under management within five years. Since his appointment, JER Partners – the private equity real estate arm of JE Robert Companies – has already opened offices in Brazil and Mexico and hired a raft of executives, including many former GE Real Estate veterans.

At the time Pralle said: “We are building a professional capital-raising organisation … In effect a capital-raising machine in the way that Tishman Speyer has today or Carlyle has today.”

However, JER has been hit by the downturn, with sources telling PERE the firm has switched its focus to being more asset management driven rather than investment focused.

In February, Malcolm Le May, president of JER Partners’ European operations, resigned from his position after six years in the role. Pralle took over May’s responsibilities until a replacement could be found. Last month, JER’s publicly traded real estate investment trust, JER Investors Trust, was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange after failing to keep its share price above $1 a day.

Separately, JER founder Roberts is undergoing treatment for brain tumours. Roberts underwent surgery in February. A company spokesman said he was “doing very well”.