EUROPE NEWS: Woman of the moment: Audrey Klein

Since Audrey Klein announced her sudden departure from real estate fund manager Aerium to “pursue other interests” in January, industry insiders have been speculating as to her next move.

As we revealed exclusively last month, one of the best known names in the European real estate fund placement business has been appointed head of equity at real estate investment manager Valad Europe, now part of Brisbane-based property manager, Cromwell Property Group. There she will be tasked with raising capital across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the US for funds with core, core-plus and value-add strategies in the industrial, office and retail sectors. She begins her new role this month.

Klein said that Valad “is destined for a very bright future. The combination of Valad and its parent company Cromwell, the Australian REIT, is a strong one. Both have strong, stable leadership for which there is no substitute.”

One key factor behind her decision was the firm’s strategy in Europe, one which chimes with her belief about the importance of local knowledge and market reach. “Valad has real local presence throughout Europe,” Klein said. “There are groups that say they have local presence with just one person in a local office, and a lot of groups try to do business all over Europe by flying out of London to cover those markets. Real estate is a local business and you get the best deals by being local,” she added.

Another reason was Valad’s chief executive officer (CEO) David Kirkby, with whom Klein previously worked at The Blackstone Group. She said: “David is a strong CEO with a vision on what the business is and where he wants it to go; he understands what peoples’ skill sets are.”

Klein spent just over a year at Aerium; prior to that she worked at Park Hill Real Estate, the European capital raising subsidiary of Blackstone, where she founded the firm’s continental Europe business in 2006. At Park Hill she acted as managing principal, establishing more than 200 investor relationships across the region for the company. Before that she spent five years running Caskar Partners, in Munich, marketing alternative asset classes including private equity, real estate and hedge funds. She began her career at Bank of America where she co-founded a real estate fund for the group together with Boston Capital.