TRIBUTE: Keith Barket 1961-2010

Leader, mentor, genuine fiduciary and one of the good guys. Real estate executives globally lined up to pay their respects to Keith Barket, following his surprising and untimely death from stomach cancer in December.

“In our world, there are guys who are financially very savvy, who know how to invest in real estate as a financial asset class and have financial engineering skills. Then there are those who also are very good on the bricks-and-mortar side and who can create value out of real estate,” said Goodwin Gaw, co-founder of Hong Kong-based Gaw Capital Partners. “Keith was both, and that’s definitely rare.”

Aged just 49 years, the death of the Angelo, Gordon & Co. senior managing director sent shockwaves through the industry for its suddenness. Diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer of the abdominal lining, in mid-December, Barket was expected to undergo immediate chemotherapy. He died on 22 December, leaving behind his wife Laura and two young children, Jack and Madeleine.

Industry professionals were gathering to pay their respects to Barket at a memorial service in New York as PERE went to press.
“Keith was an extremely capable individual who was exceptional in every way,” said Adam Schwartz, head of Angelo Gordon’s US and Europe real estate groups. Having worked with Barket since 2000, he described his “superb reputation for his investment expertise, intelligence and integrity. He was a tremendous mentor and friend to me, and a beloved partner and member of the family at Angelo, Gordon & Co.”

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Nan Leake, partner and senior member of the private real estate team at Partners Group, worked with Barket on secondaries deals and praised the senior managing director for “unapologetically” building the Angelo, Gordon real estate business around the allocator model. “He had an incredible ability to pick relationships with operators, to negotiate deals and to bring operators into the Angelo, Gordon family,” she said.

Having joined Angelo, Gordon in 1997, Barket helped build the firm’s real estate presence in the US and Europe, and more recently in Asia. In October, the firm closed its second Asia private equity real estate fund, the AG Asia Realty Fund II, corralling $625 million in commitments. Over the past five years, Angelo, Gordon has raised more than $3.4 billion of equity for its value-added and opportunistic closed-ended funds.

Barket’s death has triggered key-man clauses in a variety of the firm’s real estate funds, with limited partners believed to be meeting Angelo, Gordon executives imminently to discuss the next steps, according to other sources. That could include suspending some fund’s investment periods, they noted. Angelo, Gordon, though, is not expected to hire a replacement for Barket, instead allowing the existing team to carry on his work. Schwartz declined to comment on that.

With Angelo, Gordon as an anchor LP in Gaw Capital’s debut vehicle, Gaw noted that Barket had built an enviable team at the firm. “Keith had a talent for finding up-and-coming professionals and giving them room to grow while still being a great manager,” he said. “He led by example and ran the shop like a big brother and mentor, very collegiate. He was very straightforward and no-nonsense; you had to earn his respect and earn his trust.”

It was a sentiment echoed by another US real estate GP, who said Barket’s seriousness in his work was balanced against a man who “didn’t take it so seriously that he lost perspective.”

Leake, who started working more closely with Barket on secondaries deals in 2009, added: “Once Keith got comfortable with you, he was very collaborative, very transparent. He was just one of those guys that, whenever you called, he was available to talk. He just goes into the category of one of the industry’s good guys.”

Charitable donations in memory of Keith Barket should be sent to the Keith F. Barket Mesothelioma Research Fund, c/o David Bartlett, UPMC Cancer Pavilion, Suite 415, 5150 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15232, USA.