EURO NEWS: Tristan Capital launches

A European private equity real estate firm has been launched by the former chief investment officer of AEW Europe and chief executive of Curzon Global Partners.

London-based Tristan Capital Partners has been established by Salem, Massachusetts-born Ric Lewis, who set up Curzon Global Partners as AEW's European platform in 1999. That firm grew to manage €7.5 billion of real estate as the boutique fund advisor to AEW, which is now owned by two French banks.

AEW made a decision to abandon the Curzon name as part of a restructuring exercise last year. Lewis agreed to stay on and focus on managing two funds – the fully-invested core-plus vehicle European Property Investors and the higher-risk, higher-return fund European Property Investors Special Opportunities.

Ric Lewis

Tristan Capital's only current mandate is to work in partnership with AEW managing the two vehicles. Lewis is executive portfolio manager of Tristan and chairs the firm's investment committee.

The business though expects to launch its own funds in the future.

“I intend that Tristan will be among the market leaders in capitalising on the unique chances resulting from the wholesale restructuring under way in Europe,” Lewis said in a statement.

Currently, there are around 110 former Curzon employees working for AEW. AEW's €788 million European Property Investors Special Opportunities fund has recently been involved in a string of acquisitions, including the purchase of four industrial assets across West London and Heathrow from listed REIT Brixton for £70.25 million (€78 million; $106 million). The fund is financing acquisitions with a Royal Bank of Scotland banking facility arranged prior to the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Lewis declined to discuss possible future Tristan vehicles because the firm is concentrating on the two AEW funds.

Apart from fund managing, Lewis is also working with a charity assisting young people from London. Last month, he also travelled to Africa to help a programme called Grass Roots Soccer. “My first job is to invest capital in real estate for clients, but the charity work is as important to me,” he said.

The name Tristan is taken from the island of Tristan da Cunha, whose first inhabitant was a native of Lewis's home town, Salem. Lewis began his career for a Boston-based regional bank, joining AEW Capital Management in 1987. AEW branched out to Europe in 1999 and formed Curzon in a 50/50 joint venture with property services firm DTZ.