Siguler Guff targets distressed real estate

The private equity firm has hired the former Cohen & Steers chief investment officer, James Corl, to led its foray into real estate. The firm said it would look to create a real estate vehicle to target distressed investments.

Private equity firm Siguler Guff is jumping into distressed real estate investing after hiring former Cohen & Steers chief investment officer James Corl to lead the activities.

Siguler has previously focused on debt and small buyout investments, operating both direct private equity funds and funds of funds.

Appointing Corl, Siguler said the collapse of property prices in both the public and private real estate markets would lead to “one of the most profitable real estate investing opportunities in recent history”.

George Siguler, managing director and chief investment officer, said in a statement the firm would also look to create a real estate vehicle targeting distressed real estate opportunities “both through outside managers and direct co-investment opportunities”.

Corl was previously with Cohen & Steers where he was responsible for more than $30 billion of assets invested in mutual funds and separate accounts. He also worked for Credit Suisse First Boston’s real estate investment banking group, where he acquired non-performing loan portfolios as well as assets for the firm’s opportunistic real estate fund.

Founded in 1991 within Paine Webber, Siguler Guff became an independent firm in 1995. In the early 1990s, Siguler raised a fund to buy loans from the RTC.

In April last year, George Siguler told CNBC distress would emerge in structured mortgage products before finding its way through to consumer debt, such as auto and credit card loans, and then corporate debt. He said at the time out of every 10 large buyout deals “two to three are going to fail and be restructured”.