PERE Awards: East versus West, old versus new

The PERE Global Awards 2010 pit representatives of two Asia sovereign wealth funds against established Western figures and plenty more battles besides

Finalists for the PERE Global Awards 2010, revealed on Friday, set the scene for several interesting battles, but perhaps none more so than ‘East versus West’.

Reflecting the inter-continental force that Asian sovereign wealth funds have become, Andie Kang and Collin Lau, who lead real estate investing on behalf of the National Pension Service of Korea and the China Investment Corporation respectively, are two of the five people nominated for Global Industry Figure of the Year. Their competition? Three old hands from the US in Barry Sternlicht of Starwood Capital, Joe Azrack of Apollo Real Estate, and David Bonderman of TPG. [In case you are challenging Bonderman as an old hand, consider that he was cutting real estate deals for the leveraged buyout firm in the early 1990s when TPG was called Texas Pacific Group].

But apart from the obvious geographic differences, Kang and Lau could be thought of as belonging to a sect that could be called ‘new money’. What is notable is the two SWFs they work for only recently stepped up their real estate activity significantly, pulling off some eye-catching deals in the process. This puts them closer to TPG and Apollo. Kang, Lau, Bonderman and Azrack therefore can be thought of as new money against Sternlicht whose Los Angeles-based firm also stood out last year but has been investing in real estate every year since starting out in 1991.

The Global Firm of the Year finalists, on the other hand, are almost entirely about firms that have been active in real estate continuously for a long time. The Blackstone Group, La Salle Investment Management, Partners Group, Starwood Capital Group and The Townsend Group have all scored significant successes in 2010 which is testament to how they have built up long-term businesses capable of withstanding the worst of economic climates.

The Global Deal of the Year award has taken on a somewhat unusual flavour this time around as much of the notable activity in 2010 was done at the corporate level. Apollo’s takeover of Citi Property Investors, Blackstone taking over Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Asia Real Estate Principal Investments platform, and the spin-out of the senior managers at Lehman Brothers real estate private equity business are all in there.

Voters get to chose whether such corporate activity merits greater recognition than a classic opportunistic deal such as the acquisition of Extended Stay Hotels and the recapitalization of bankrupt General Growth Properties.

No finalists list is ever perfect, but what is for sure is that the PERE Global Awards 2010 highlight many of the important trends and stories covered by us over the past 12 months. You could say that we voted throughout the year by choosing which stories to focus on. With your votes, we’ll shortly have the chance to discover which you think deserve most focus.

Have fun voting. 

To cast your votes, click here.