MSREI responds to growth in Asia by relocating global head

Olivier de Poulpiquet, co-CEO and co-CIO of Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing, is to relocate to Singapore as the firm plans to switch from net sellers of real estate in the region to become net buyers.

Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing (MSREI) has laid down a marker for its ambitions in Asia by relocating its co-chief executive officer and co-chief investment officer, Olivier de Poulpiquet, to the region.

In an internal memo sent to colleagues this week, seen by PERE, MSREI said it was responding to “increased growth in the region” by relocating de Poulpiquet, who only rejoined the firm last April from Italian business Pirelli Real Estate. Frenchman de Poulpiquet worked at Morgan Stanley, predominantly with MSREI, between 1994 and 2003 before joining Pirelli as chief investment officer.

Following the relocation, expected during the summer, MSREI’s Brian Niles is to be promoted to head of the European business. The move will have no impact on the roles for MSREI’s co-CEO and co-CIO John Klopp or indeed for Asia head Hoke Slaughter, the memo said.

MSREI has, of late, been a net seller of real estate in Asia over the past few years. According to research from Real Capital Analytics, in the past 12 months alone, the firm sold $5.1 billion of real estate – the highest amount by a private equity real estate firm and the fourth highest amount by a real estate investor globally. By contrast, the firm has bought relatively little in the region.

Late last year, the firm also closed its Korea unit, Morgan Stanley Capital Korea, following a 10-year presence in the country as part of a strategy shift to focus to value added and distressed investments in Asia's developed markets and growth plays in its emerging markets. Stating then that, on account of its relative stability, Korea did not fit into either camp, it relinquished 10 staff including country head Jin Eu.

Nevertheless, a person with knowledge of the situation said: “[MSREI has] recently generally been sellers of properties in the region from funds coming to an end. With G7 (Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing VII Global, MSREI’s latest opportunity fund which closed on $4.7 billion last May) being invested at the moment, the focus is now more on acquisitions.”

He added: “[For de Poulpiquet], it’s a question of being a little closer to the action. It’s definitely the coming region. Rather than being based in London and spending time in Asia, he’ll be based in Singapore and be spending lots of time in Europe,” the source added.

To underline its ambitions, MSREI said in the memo: “This move continues MSREI’s longstanding commitment to Asia and signals our belief in the exciting opportunities in the region.”

Meanwhile, MSREI continues to buy in Europe. PERE understands the firm is expected to announce tomorrow the acquisition of an 18-strong retail property portfolio in Germany as part of its joint venture with Hamburg-based investment and development firm Redos Real Estate.