Pro-invest expands into Europe with new London office

Established last month, the regional investment business will be led by former executives from ADIA and global hospitality group IHG.

Pro-invest Group, a Sydney-based hospitality developer-operator-manager, has opened an office in London to expand its investment activities into Europe, PERE can reveal exclusively.

It is the group’s first office in Europe, where it has built an eight-strong team led by former executives from Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and hospitality group IHG Hotels & Resorts.

Alexander Garrod, an 18-year industry veteran, has been hired as managing director overseeing the group’s origination and execution of hotel transactions. He will also be in charge of capital solutions and portfolio management strategies for the group’s activities in Europe. Prior to joining Pro-invest, Garrod spent 11 years at ADIA where he was a portfolio manager responsible for hotel acquisitions in Europe and Asia.

Andrew Johnston, former chief financial officer for hospitality in ADIA’s real estate division, has joined the firm as chief financial officer in Europe. At ADIA, Johnston led the structuring and financing of $7.1 billion of hotel investments. Before that, he worked for 18 years for InterContinental Hotels Group where he held senior roles in operations, finance and investments.

Scott Wolfe, former vice-president of investment analysis at IHG, has also joined Pro-invest’s new European team as director of investments after nearly 14 years at the UK hospitality company.

Norman Forsyth, director of architecture and technical services at Pro-invest, will relocate from the firm’s Dubai office to London. He is responsible for development, project management, master planning, concept design and hotel due diligence at the firm. Prior to rejoining Pro-invest in 2017, he was the MEA regional director of design and engineering at IHG.

Sabine Schaffer, managing partner at Pro-Invest, told PERE that the group is eyeing opportunities in gateway cities in Europe where she expects price dislocation in a region with strong fundamentals. “Europe is running 12 months behind Asia in terms of recovery, and I believe the market is going to come back just like Australia. Now, it is a good time to find assets you otherwise could not,” she added.

Pro-invest will be making investments in Europe with capital from its separately managed accounts. Currently, it is fundraising for its A$500 million ($387 million; €325 million) Pro-invest Asia-Pacific Distressed Hospitality Fund, the third in its flagship hospitality fund series.

Although Pro-invest’s portfolio is largely focused in Australia, the group’s founding partner and chief executive officer Ronald Barrott had a track record of investing in European real estate. Prior to founding Pro-invest, he was the founder, chief executive officer and chairman of London-headquartered integrated hospitality platform Stannifer Group, where he introduced the Holiday Inn Express brand into the UK and oversaw the subsequent roll-out of 15 hotels.