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EDITOR'S LETTER: Walking on water

Welcome to the March issue of PERE, which coincides with our 2011 Awards & Annual Review issue. I must confess that looking back over the events of 2011 midway through the first quarter of the new year sometimes feels like a strange enterprise. Then again, March is the end of many a firm’s financial year, so it can be a pivotal time.

In addition, this month plays host to MIPIM, the annual property show in Cannes, France, for which PERE will be in attendance. Somehow, that event feels like the right time to take stock of the markets, so as we look back we also look forward.

As an aside, if you are planning on coming down to Cannes for MIPIM, don’t miss PERE’s discussion on the private equity real estate market on Wednesday, 9 March at the Palais des Festivals. TPG Capital, Lone Star Funds, GIC Real Estate and The Wellcome Trust will be participating in a discussion, led by yours truly, on the ins and outs of investing currently. But enough about that.

Turning to this month’s issue, we kick things off with an interview of Jon Gray of The Blackstone Group by Evelyn Lee, beginning on page 8. The firm, which you will discover has won a number of PERE awards this year, has been busy altering the line-up of its real estate team, with some gaining promotions in recognition of their services. Indeed, the team’s evolution is part of the reason it remains a leader in the industry, prompting one professional to say the firm seems to “walk on water.”

Also in this month’s issue, you will find a three-part report focussed on real estate finance, starting on page 32. In the US, Evelyn Lee delves into how financing options are expanding for opportunistic firms, while James Comtois examines the possible resurgence of the CMBS market. Europe, meanwhile, is operating at a different speed, with some suggesting it is two years behind the US. Find out how some opportunistic investors are approaching the difficult finance environment. Hint: senior debt funds.

So as not to miss out on Asia, Jonathan Brasse explores the corporate story thus far of an intriguing company called Pacific Star. Beginning on page 26, one can find a narration that many will be able to relate to: how firms sometimes need to adapt in the face of adverse conditions. Clearly, not all firms can walk on water.

Last but not least, we follow the ups and downs of such firms as Apollo Global Management, Morgan Stanley and RREEF in the US news section, while there are tales of fundraising, fraud and new mandates in the Europe section. Meanwhile, in the Asia section, we cover a big commitment by NPS, examine a pair of start-ups and talk to MGPA about why it is eyeing zombie managers.

We hope you enjoy the issue (and if you are going to MIPM, bon voyage),

Robin Marriott