EUROPE NEWS: Man of the moment: Neil Hasson

Investcorp, Bahrain’s state-owned investment management business, is entering the European real estate market in order to diversify its range of investment products outside the US.

The push sees Investcorp, which was founded in 1982, move back into European real estate, which it abandoned in 1994 because of low returns.

To lead the expansion is Neil Hasson, who joined the firm last month from Macquarie Group, where he had been responsible for the firm's European real estate lending business since January 2013.

Prior to this, Hasson spent seven years at Citi Property Investors, where he was responsible for Citi’s real estate private equity platform as head of Europe and chief investment officer of CPI Capital Partners Europe, a €1.15 billion pan-European real estate fund.

He started his career at Goldman, Sachs, followed by four years at US investment bank Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette, where he was a managing director.

“Investcorp’s strong international reputation as a leading alternative investment manager, along with the firm’s clear position as one of the largest foreign investors in US property, will be an excellent springboard as we seek to reach similar successes in the European markets,” said Hasson. “There are currently some very attractive opportunities for property investment, particularly in Western Europe, and I am looking forward to spearheading this new initiative at Investcorp.”

The firm, which claims to be the first to funnel Gulf money into Western real estate, said the plan was to build the real estate investment business in Europe with an initial focus on core-plus opportunities in residential and commercial properties across the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

To spearhead this initiative, Hasson will be based in London and will report to Investcorp's New York-based head of real estate investment, Jonathan Dracos.

“Diversification into the European real estate market is a key element of Investcorp's strategy. Investcorp has long-served its client base with global and diversified investment products – entering European real estate is the next logical strategic step for the firm,” commented Mohammed Al-Ardhi, executive chairman at Investcorp, at the time of Hasson's appointment.

Investcorp already is an active buyer of US real estate. The firm closed transactions with a value totalling around $1.5 billion in the past year, including student housing in Florida, apartments in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver and Minneapolis, and commercial property in the Northwest, Southwest and West Coast.