PineBridge Investments’ acquisition of London-based Benson Elliot in December 2020 was a watershed moment for the New York-based manager. The purchase of the European private equity real estate firm not only marked its debut in real estate, but also was its first acquisition of a business.
AUM ($3 billion in real estate) as of September 30
Headquarters: New York
Market differentiator: A valuable pan-European private equity real estate business
“Real estate is a strategically important asset class for institutional investors who are looking to meet their long-term investment objectives,” Greg Ehret, chief executive of PineBridge, said in the deal announcement. “Benson Elliot’s industry-leading expertise in European real estate will complement and diversify our firm’s investment offering allowing us to best serve our global client base.”
At the time of the Benson Elliot transaction, PineBridge was already an established name in fixed income, which currently makes up more than half its investment portfolio, and additionally had investment platforms in equities, multi-assets and alternatives, the latter of which includes private funds, private credit, structured capital and multi-strategy.
PineBridge declined to be interviewed. However, PERE understands the firm’s strong performance during the pandemic, especially with its fixed-income business, led the company’s investors to demand more products, particularly in private markets, real estate and in Europe. Benson Elliot met all three criteria and was considered even more valuable as one of the few European managers with a pan-regional focus.
Europe, the Middle East and Africa is the smallest of PineBridge’s three regional allocations, representing $23.3 billion, or 16.4 percent, of its $141.8 billion in assets under management as of September 30.
By comparison, PineBridge has a more sizable presence in the US and Asia, with $39.8 billion and $78.7 billion of AUM, respectively, as of Q3 2021. It is in these two geographies the company would connect Benson Elliot with new sources of capital, particularly in Asia, thanks to its majority ownership by Asia-based private investment group Pacific Century Group. PineBridge and Benson Elliot could also potentially collaborate on developing new products that would effectively combine their capabilities in real estate and credit. Both factors are expected to help PineBridge’s real estate platform to expand its reach and presence globally.
And that expansion has continued. Six months after the deal closed, PineBridge Benson Elliot struck a deal to further bolster its platform with the acquisition of UK-based private rented housing firm Sigma Capital Group for approximately £188 million ($255 million; €225 million). The purchase of Sigma, which had launched a private sale process in late 2020, was made through PineBridge Benson Elliot’s fifth fund, Benson Elliot Real Estate Partners V, and closed in August.