Pradera explores sale options

The €2 billion retail property investment manager has appointed boutique M&A advisory bank, Berkshire Capital, to find a buyer or a strategic investment.

Pradera, the London-based retail real estate investment management firm founded by UK entrepreneur Paul Whight, is being marketed for sale.

PERE understands that Berkshire Capital, the New York-based boutique investment bank which specializes in mergers and acquisitions, and which advised on last year’s acquisition of Asia and Europe-focused private equity real estate firm MGPA by global asset management firm BlackRock, has been appointed to advise the firm on its options, including a sale.

Pradera also is understood to be open to the prospect of a meaningful strategic capital injection or partial sale. Letters communicating as much are believed already to have been sent to a select list of prospective buyers, including other European real estate investment managers, in a process that started earlier this month.

A sale would constitute something of a sign-off for veteran Whight and the firm’s other major shareholder Colin Campbell who have widely been credited with making retail warehousing in Europe a viable institutional investment asset class.

Whight founded the firm 15 years ago and he and Campbell have since grown it into a business with about 80 staff and which manages 55 assets valued at more than €2.3 billion in the UK, continental Europe and Turkey.

In 2012, they ceded operational control of the company to former JER Partners director James Bury who became chief executive officer, supported by managing directors Roberto Limetti and Neil Varnham. 

They stayed on as majority shareholders while the transition bedded in. But it is understood that now they are ready to relinquish their stakes to another sponsor and effectively make a complete exit. It comes at a time of renewed enthusiasm among institutional investors for investments in some of Pradera's key markets, especially Southern Europe, a fact thought to have played a part in the firm exploring sale options now.

The firm has long raised traditional real estate funds, however, following Bury’s appointment, which happened during what was then a general malaise in fundraising for such vehicles, it switched strategy to focus more on raising separate accounts and participating in joint ventures. Pradera’s partners include AEW Europe, Tristan Capital Partners and Brockton Capital.

Neither Pradera nor Berkshire Capital would comment