New kid on the block

In the latest sign of the asset class' development, a new secondaries firm targeting private equity real estate partnerships has launched.

The recent launch of San Francisco-based Belveron Real Estate Partners, a secondary firm targeting investments in all types of private equity real estate funds and single asset partnerships, as well as secured and unsecured mezzanine debt, is among the latest signs of growth in the private equity real estate indstury.

Paul Odland, the former head of Concierge Asset Management, will be at the helm of the new firm, which will compete against established secondary players like San Francisco-based Liquid Realty Partners as well as other firms active in the sector including Landmark Partners and Credit Suisse.

Odland comes to the secondary game from Tiburon, California-based Concierge, where he primarily focused on multi-family investments. While there, his team formed three investment funds which raised $170 million (€133 million) in equity and acquired a combined $250 million in assets. Prior to Concierge, Odland was head of acquisitions for Walnut Creek, California-based Bridge Partners, which specialized in repositioning federally financed affordable housing as market rate rentals.

While Belveron won't raise a fund right away, it is likely in the cards for the future. “We're not going to raise a fund until we build a track record,” says Odland. Belveron has several deals in the pipeline and expects to announce its first transaction in the near future. Belveron is in a position to make single deals up to $100 million, but will also consider stakes in funds as small as $250,000.

Belveron is aligned with San Francisco-based venture capital and private equity secondary firm Industry Ventures, which has provided some early financing. Whenever there is an opportunity to acquire a portfolio of alternative investments with both real estate and venture components, the firms will work together.

Belveron launches at a time when the market for secondary investments in private equity real estate funds appears to be growing.

In May, Liquid Realty purchased a UK portfolio of assets for £435 million ($775 million; €615 million). The firm bought interests in ten 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.

Probitas beefs up real estate presence
San Francisco-based global alternative investment placement and advisory firm Probitas Partners has hired Alan Bear as a principal with a focus on the private equity real estate markets. Prior to joining Probitas, Bear ran his own strategic advisory investment business, served as a managing director for The Roulac Group and worked as the director of institutional real estate services at Arthur Andersen. Probitas has recently headed the fundraising efforts for Benson Elliot and KSL Capital Partners. In related news, David Wherritt, formerly an analyst in the real estate private equity group at Credit Suisse's San Francisco office, has also joined the firm as an analyst in the property division.

Apollo, NRDC JV adds retail expertise
NRDC Equity Partners, a joint venture between the principals of National Realty & Development Corp. and Apollo Real Estate Advisors, has hired Christina Johnson, the former chief executive of Saks Fifth Avenue, as an NRDC managing director with a focus on retail and consumer investments. Johnson brings with her extensive contacts in the retail world, which should allow the venture to further develop its retail platform, Richard Baker, the president of NRDC, said in a statement. The joint venture recently closed on its $1.1 billion (€870 million) acquisition of Lord & Taylor. Johnson will sit on the department store chain's board.

Liquid Realty adds staff
San Francisco–based secondary firm Liquid Realty Partners has added two new hires to its team. Mitchell Otolski joined the firm as assistant controller, and Erin Ellis as a portfolio analyst. Otolski was formerly the finance analyst at Gryphon Investors, and also worked at with both Deloitte & Touche and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Ellis is responsible for supporting the investment analysis, due diligence and portfolio management functions of the firm.

Kim joins The Hampshire Companies
Nathan Kim has joined the Hampshire Companies, a Morristown, New Jersey-based real estate investment firm, as a financial analyst. Kim formerly worked at Richard Ellis global corporate services, where he specialized in managing real estate-related needs for major Korean companies in the US. He holds two master's degrees, including a master of real estate and urban development from Harvard University, as well as a master of science in architecture from Korea's Sungkyunkwan University.

Pollack joins Reed Smith
Attorney Michael Pollack, formerly a partner and head of the US real estate practice at law firm Withers Bergman, has joined the New York office of law firm Reed Smith. Mr. Pollack has long represented a number of significant New York real estate developers. Pollack is expected to help develop the firm's capacity in managing “an increasing number of private equity and real estate M&A deals.”

Firms gamble with Harrah's offer
Firms gamble with Harrah's offer Private equity firms including Apollo Management and Texas Pacific Group have made a $15.1 billion (€11.8 billion) buyout offer for Harrah's Entertainment. While not yet certain, and with the firms reportedly having increased their offer at press time, a buyout of the Las Vegas-based casino operator, the world's biggest, would be among the largest of the year. The casino giant's board “has not determined that the transaction is in the best interest of Harrah's and its stockholders,” according to a statement. Apollo and Texas Pacific are among several private equity firms attracted to the rapidly expanding gaming business for its strong cash flow. Some reports also speculated that Colony Capital, which is actively involved in the casino sector, may also get involved in the deal.

KSL acquires $2bn in golf courses
KSL Capital Partners has acquired Dallas-based ClubCorp and its portfolio of 170 golf courses, private country clubs, sports clubs and resorts, significantly expanding its focus into the membership side of the leisure business. KSL will commit $150 million (€117 million) toward capital improvements over the next two years and will look to expand the platform. ClubCorp announced the sale to KSL in tandem with the separate sale of North Carolina's historic Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, the company's crown jewel, to the family of founder Robert Dedman Jr. The combined value of the transactions, expected to close by the end of the year, totals $1.8 billion (€1.4 billion).

Behringer Harvard expands into Europe
Behringer Harvard and German investment firm HCI Capital have formed an alliance to invest $1.3 billion (€1 billion) in European real estate. The partnership will buy property across the sectors with a regional focus on Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. The move represents an expansion into Europe for Dallas-based Behringer Harvard, which made its first acquisition outside the US through its partnership with HCI in March, when it bought a five-story office building located near Schipol Airport outside Amsterdam. The partnership will target short- and mid-term opportunistic and value-added investments.

Blackstone ties up Trizec buyout
A joint venture between The Blackstone Group and Brookfield Properties has closed the acquisition of Trizec Properties, one of North America's largest commercial landlords, in a deal valued at $7.2 billion (€5.7 billion). Recently, Trizec sold a total of 13 properties and 13.3 million square feet of office space in Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas and Minneapolis to affiliates of Blackstone for approximately $1.8 billion (€1.4 billion) in a separate transaction. Blackstone is reportedly already in talks to flip some of the properties in Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas— which could reportedly earn the New York based-firm more than $300 million (€238 million). The transaction will also allow Blackstone to expand its CarrAmerica platform on the West Coast.