AMERICAS NEWS: Man of the moment: Lee Millstein

Thirteen years after launching its real estate business, Cerberus Capital Management has named its first global head of real estate.

The man picked for the job was a 10-year veteran of the company, Lee Millstein, who joined in October 2007. Before his promotion, he was the New York-based private investment firm’s head of European and Asian distressed and real estate investments.

In his new role, Millstein presides over a global team comprising approximately 40 investment professionals across four offices, and a platform with assets under management and commitments available for real estate-related investments in excess of $8 billion.

The creation of the global head role was the most salient aspect of Cerberus’ property platform reorganization, intended to support cross-border and cross-asset class investment activity at the firm, according to a statement announcing the restructuring in April. The realignment also involved elevating former head of European real estate advisory Ronald Rawald to head of international real estate – another new position, which will oversee the firm’s real estate investment activities outside the US. Cerberus also named managing director Daniel Dejanovic as head of European real estate. Ronald Kravit and Thomas Wagner remain co-heads of North American real estate.

Befitting his new role, Millstein, 46, has years of international investment experience under his belt, having served as head of corporate and investment banking at Japanese commercial bank Aozora Bank from 2004 to March 2007. At Aozora, he was responsible for the bank’s corporate lending, real estate, leveraged lending, structured credit and principal investing businesses. He also spent 10 years at Morgan Stanley, including as head of high-yield and distressed principal investing in Japan and non-Japan Asia.

Millstein’s responsibilities at Cerberus are not limited to just real estate. In addition to sitting on the real estate committee, he is also a member of the firm’s operating and management advisory committee and the investment committees of the firm’s other businesses. Real estate is one of four main investment areas at Cerberus, along with distressed securities and assets, private equity and mid-market lending.

Within real estate, the firm invests in distressed bank loans collateralized by property; US, Asian and European non-performing loan portfolios; distressed securities; gap financing for asset recapitalizations, rescue financing and joint ventures with firms in need of capital; distressed real estate foreclosed on by lenders; and real estate assets held by banks and corporations needing capital.