EUROPE NEWS: Pradera poaching

Last month, Savills Investment Management (IM) hired Richard Gore and Neil Varnham as executive directors as part of its continued expansion. The two senior executives were the firm’s latest recruits from London-based retail real estate investment management firm Pradera Asset Management, which their former boss, James Bury, left to join Savills IM as chief operating officer last June.

Pradera was a firm that Savills IM was rumored to be in talks to buy back in 2014. No deal ever materialized and in early 2015, Pradera announced that it had agreed to a management buyout that allowed the firm to remain an independent investment manager. Pradera had previously appointed Berkshire Capital, the New York-based boutique investment bank which specializes in mergers and acquisitions, to advise the firm on its options, including a sale.

When asked about the hiring of Pradera executives, Justin O’Connor, chief executive officer at Savills IM, said the firm is in a growth phase and is recruiting to support that growth.

“Neil and Richard are highly accomplished property professionals and acknowledged experts in the real estate industry. They are excellent additions to our asset management and retail capabilities and will contribute to our continued international growth,” he commented.

One London-based investment manager said that the appeal of Savills IM for these two property professionals was twofold.

Firstly, Savills' trajectory. As of December 31, Savills IM had €17 billion of assets under management and has been in growth mode following its capture last year of SEB Asset Management, the property investment management business of Nordic corporate bank SEB Group last year.

Their former boss Bury is another draw. The executive, who held several roles at Pradera, including chief executive and head of European fund management, is well regarded within the industry, said the investment manager.