Pacific Star loses research head to RREEF

Pacific Star’s head of research and strategic planning, Leslie Chua, has left the company to join RREEF less than one year after joining. His appointment completes RREEF’s research leadership, the firm said.

Leslie Chua has left his position as head of research and strategic planning at Singapore-based private equity real estate firm Pacific Star less than one year after joining the firm.

He has joined RREEF Real Estate, the real estate investment management business of Deutsche Bank’s Asset Management division, RREEF announced today.

In its announcement, RREEF said Chua joined as head of research and strategy for Asia-Pacific ex-Japan and Korea. He will remain based in Singapore and work alongside head of research and strategy for Japan and Korea Koichuro Obu.

Chua only joined Pacific Star at the end of October 2010, so his departure so quickly has come as something of a surprise, according to certain PERE sources. In that short time, he was mandated to “enhance the research capabilities of Pacific Star” as well as “expand the group’s advisory services to its global clients” according to an announcement by Pacific Star at the time.

Pacific Star, which has transacted more than $5 billion in real estate deals since its founding in 2001, has seen various professionals depart over recent years, and this is understood to have influenced Chua’s decision to move on. In addition to dissolving its Pacific Star Europe joint venture with German investment veterans Dirk Große Wördemann and Matthias Sturmer last year, the firm also saw its 10-strong Hong Kong-based operation, led by another industry veteran, Wilfred Wong, spin out in February to form a separate company called Pinnacle State Group.

When approached about whether Chua's role would see a replacement, a spokesperson at Pacific Star said: “Our strategy and business focus are evolving and we will make the appropriate announcements in due course.”

As well as his time at Pacific Star, Chua previously worked in a similar role for Standard Chartered Bank – Istithmar Real Estate Fund Management, a joint venture platform between bank Standard Chartered and Dubai state investment business Istithmar. Led by Richard Johnson, who currently is head of Asia-Pacific business development at Swiss bank UBS, the venture ultimately was separated after Istithmar ran into financing issues.

Kurt Roeloffs, global chief investment officer at RREEF Real Estate, said Chua’s appointment would complete the build out of the leadership of the platform’s global research team, which is led by global head Mark Roberts, who joined from Invesco in June. Simon Durkin, who heads the firm’s research efforts in Europe, joined from CoStar/ Property & Portfolio Research in January.

“The high caliber combination of Leslie and Ko at the helm of our Asia-Pacific research teams will be critical to our efforts to bring RREEF Real Estate’s market insights and risk management processes to our clients in this important region,” he said.