OMERS’ direct RE arm makes key Euro hire

Goldman Sachs investment banker David Matheson will help drive Oxford Properties into Continental Europe as the platform seeks to invest £5 billion outside of North America in the next five years.

Oxford Properties, the direct property arm of $60 billion Canadian pension fund OMERS, is to drive investments in the UK, and for the first time, Continental Europe, via the hiring of a Goldman Sachs investment banker.

David Matheson, who recently helped UK REIT British Land tap capital markets for nearly £500 million (€581 million; $762 million) has been appointed as senior vice president. He will be based in the firm’s London office where he will drive Oxford Properties’ growth across the UK and Europe, the company said. His role takes effect in August.

Matheson is a former executive director in the real estate investment banking team at Goldman Sachs, but at Oxford Properties he will be head of investment with a particular focus on “expanding the business’ reach” into new asset classes and new markets including France and Germany – implying OMERS will make investments on the Continent.

So far Oxford Properties has concentrated its European investments on the UK and the London office sector in particular. It has built up a portfolio of more than £1.5 billion with key assets including The Leadenhall Building and Watermark Place. Oxford Properties has a mandate, however, to invest a further £5 billion outside of North America in the next five years.

Paul Brundage, executive vice president and senior managing director at Oxford Properties, applauded the new hire’s “considerable M&A experience”, which would “be integral and invaluable to delivering our significant ambitions for growth”.

He added: “We are proud of the platform we have built in the UK over the past five years but now intend to take our European business to the next level. David’s expertise, which is an effective complement to that of our existing team, will be key to our success.”

Matheson said he was making a switch to a business with a strong a team, portfolio and track record and drew attention to Oxford Properties’ “significant appetite and potential for expansion in the UK and Continental Europe”.

The Goldman Sachs banker has spent more than ten years in European real estate investment advisory. Some of that time was spent at rival investment banks Lehman Brothers and Citigroup.

Oxford Properties said he had worked on more than £10 billion of transactions, including advising UK REIT British Land on its recent £493 million equity raising, another UK property company, Brixton, on its £1.15 billion sale to Segro and Tesco on more than £1.5 billion of CMBS financings.

Oxford Properties Group is one of the largest pension-owned property divisions in the world. It employs 1,300 employees and manages around $22 billion of real assets for itself and on behalf of its co-owners and investment partners.

OMERS, which itself is one of Canada’s biggest pension funds with more than $60 billion of assets, acquired it in 2001. The property division has offices in Toronto, London and New York.