Richard Powers to leave Goldman Sachs' REPIA

The co-head of Goldman Sachs’ Real Estate Principal Investment Area in the Americas will be leaving the bank at the end of March. Edward Siskind will relocate from London to New York and continue to head up the global business.

Richard Powers, co-head of Goldman Sachs’ Real Estate Principal Investment Area (REPIA) in the Americas, will be leaving the bank, PERE has learned. In an internal memorandum, the firm announced to staff today that Powers had decided to retire at the end of March.

Although not mentioned in the memo, it is understood that Edward Siskind, who heads up REPIA globally from Goldman’s European headquarters in London – where he has been since 1999 – will move back to New York to continue managing the business. Powers' co-head in the Americas, Alan Kava, will be solely in charge of the region.   

Powers himself relocated from London to New York to help rebuild the REPIA business in 2009 – the last time Goldman restructured the group. Prior to the 2009 reshuffle, he worked alongside Siskind in the REPIA group in London. Today’s memo to staff said Powers helped build REPIA’s business in Europe with a specific focus on Italy, the UK and Scandinavia. As part of this latest reshuffle, London-based Jim Garman takes responsibility for REPIA in Europe.

Powers, like Siskind, is a long-time Goldman Sachs employee and a well-known figure in private equity real estate in both Europe and North America. He joined the firm’s merchant banking division in 1999 and became a partner in 2002. Prior to that, he spent most of his career at GE Capital in commercial real estate.

Over the past three years, industry players frequently have claimed that REPIA was being wound down or retrenching, but it is a claim Goldman repeatedly has denied. Since its inception in 1991, REPIA has raised approximately $26.5 billion of equity and made more than $170 billion in investments. According to PERE’s own data published in the annual PERE 30 rankings, it raised $13.58 billion in the five years to March 2010, making it one of the biggest private equity real estate platforms in the world.

Within REPIA, the most recent fund was Whitehall International 2008, which garnered $2.3 billion in commitments. In 2009, the bank also raised GS Real Estate Mezzanine Partners, which corralled $2.6 billion for real estate opportunities in North America.

An article by the Wall Street Journal in 2009 said REPIA's biggest vehicle, the $4.1 billion Whitehall Street Global Real Estate 2007 fund, saw enormous write-downs in 2008, after the bulk of its capital was invested at the height of the market in 2007. In 2008, the bank's real estate arm wrote down $2.1 billion of the $3.7 billion of capital it invested between May 2007 and August 2008.

The most recent development, however, was the launch of a core real estate platform, which doesn’t fall within the merchant banking division that houses the REPIA group, but rather within Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Late last year, the bank hired ING Clarion head of acquisitions Jeffrey Barclay to target US core and core-plus assets that are substantially leased.