EUROPE NEWS: Man of the moment: Leon Bressler

The next time European real estate industry doyen Leon Bressler sits down with potential investors he will be doing so as an independent fund manager.

At the end of July, Bressler parted ways with Perella Weinberg Partners, the New York-based boutique bank and advisor whose real estate business he helped form in 2006.

Formerly the chairman and chief executive of French property giant Unibail, Bressler has taken the business with its 20-person staff completely independent. It is now trading as PW Real Assets.

The decision to become completely independent and autonomous is said to be a natural evolution of the real estate unit, said sources familiar with the matter. It has always been run in London by Bressler and his team as a separate entity, but the separation has now been formalized.

When Perella announced it was entering into real estate investment management and unveiled Bressler as the joint venture partner in 2006, it heralded a new arrival on the European real estate opportunistic market.

Perella soon became one of the major players in the marketplace after launching its maiden fund in 2007 and held a final close in July 2008 on €1.2 billion. The vehicle is now fully realized with gross IRRs above 20 percent. The firm followed up that success with a €1.316 billion equity haul for its second property vehicle, Perella Weinberg Real Estate Fund II in 2012.

Bressler’s newly independent firm is on the fundraising trail again and marketing materials of PW Real Assets suggests the objective is to keep Fund III at a similar size to the first two funds, and maintain the business’ pan European value-added/opportunistic strategy.

At the time, there were thought to be synergies between Perella’s global banking and advisory business and a real estate business hunting for opportunities across Europe. However, the real estate division has been sensitive over any suggestion that conflicts of interests might arise. The new independent company removes any such doubt.

So the stage has been set for the next chapter of Bressler’s impressive career. He began at Chase Manhattan Bank and held senior positions at Midland Bank, Lanvin and Worms & Cie before turning Unibail into Europe’s largest real estate investment trust. During his tenure, Unibail’s property portfolio grew to €9.4 billion and the company’s share price appreciated over 1,400 percent.

Now he’ll turn his hand into turning PW Real Assets into one of Europe’s largest private equity real estate fund managers.