The retired founder of Apax Partners, Sir Ronald Cohen, is courting investors for a new alternative asset management business, Portland Capital, reportedly in partnership with Lord Rothschild.
Cohen stepped down from his position as chief executive of Apax last year and is running Portland Capital, a fund manager investing in real estate, private equity, hedge funds and commodities. A property hedge fund is likely to be its first product, according to the Financial Times.
Cohen has tapped George Kountouris, a former head of Credit Suisse's Real Estate Capital Partners, to run the firm's property arm.
Before joining Credit Suisse in 2003, Kountouris worked at Deutsche Bank where he was a managing director of private equity real estate. While there, he worked alongside Roger Barris, now the European head of Merrill Lynch's global principal investment group.
Kountouris, who declined to comment, is an alumnus of Harvard Business School and graduated in the same 1982 class as John Grayken, the founder of Lone Star.
Like his HBS contemporary, Kountouris has spent a significant amount of time working on property-backed loan transactions. In the mid 1990s, while working in the London office of Bankers Trust, he helped advise the French subsidiary of Barclays Bank in their sale of $175 million (€136 million) worth of office and housing development loans to a US consortium.
The firm would not comment on its plans at this stage, but a spokesperson for Portland Capital said that it is still in the “very early stages of discussions with potential investors.” The spokesperson confirmed that Portland Capital will invest in private equity funds rather than set up its own vehicle, but added that details were sketchy and no targets or strategies had been set at this point.
The spokesperson also noted that Nigel King, formerly at Salomon Smith Barney, has also joined Portland Capital.
In addition to his investment in Portland Capital, Lord Rothschild is also reportedly involved as a backer in Aurigo Management, a recently-launched distressed firm headed by Archie Norman.
Sir Ronald, an Egyptian-born Briton, founded Apax Partners in 1971 alongside Alan Patricof and Maurice Tchénio.
Savills hires former ING exec
Cordea Savills has appointed Patrick Carr, a former manager of the ING UK Residential Property Fund, as a London-based director in its UK residential arm. Cordea Savills' residential team manages the Diversified Residential Opportunities Fund, the Serviced Land No. 1 fund the Cordea Savills Student Hall Fund and the recently launched Accommodation Investment Fund for Charities. Carr was at ING Real Estate for seven years, spending his last two years managing the firm's Residential Fund. He started as an assistant surveyor at property consultants Bruton Knowles.
Redevco shops for French flair
REDEVCO has revealed that Jean-Christophe Bretxa will take over as managing director of REDEVCO France replacing Charles-André Roche, who is leaving to take up a position as adviser to the chairman of REDEVCO Europe. Bretxa was previously a senior real estate director with supermarket groups Printemps and Carrefour; since 2005, he has been head of third-party fund management at AXA REIM France, the French real estate investment management division of the AXA Group. Jaap Blokhuis, chief executive of REDEVCO Europe, said in a statement: “The development side of the business has become increasingly important and we believe that Jean-Christophe's experience will be a real asset to our Paris-based team.”
Arlington hires former Europa associate
Arlington Securities has appointed James Smith as European transaction manager based at its London office. Smith will be involved in all aspects of the acquisition and disposal of Arlington's property investments in Europe and will work closely with Arlington's offices in Europe to identify potential acquisitions on behalf of both investment clients and Australian owner Macquarie Goodman. The immediate task will be to build up the new Arlington European Logistics Fund. Smith is a former senior associate at Europa Capital.
Morley steps up Euro securities push
Morley Fund Management has drafted in its first property securities specialist in an effort to ramp up its pan-European securities operation. Paul van de Vaart has joined from Dutch pension fund ABP where he oversaw €4.5 billion of securities. Morley also hired Zoe Collier, a former analyst at Bloomberg, to join the firm's property strategy and indirect investment division.
Taylor joins Hotbed
Hotbed, the private investor network specializing in sourcing commercial property and private equity investment opportunities, has appointed Andy Taylor as its new head of property. Taylor, a former partner at Knight Frank, specializes in investment, development and asset management. Major projects included the 155-acre, £150-million ($280 million; €225 million) development at Strathclyde Business Park.
Pirelli in three-way split of DGAG
Italy's Pirelli RE, Morgan Stanley Real Estate Funds and RREEF, the real estate fund management business owned by Deutsche Bank, have agreed to share properties owned by German real estate company Deutsche Grundvermogen (DGAG), which Pirelli is acquiring for €462 million ($579 million). Most of DGAG's portfolio is comprised of residential properties totaling 21,403 units in Hamburg, Lubeck and Kiel. These will be transferred to a recently formed joint venture, 65 percent of which will be owned by RREEF. The remaining properties comprising three shopping centers, two of which are in Hamburg, will be transferred to a joint venture with Morgan Stanley Real Estate Funds, who will own 70 percent of the partnership.
Maiden deal for Mogull fund
Benson Elliot Capital Management, the European private equity real estate company founded by former Doughty Hanson head Marc Mogull, has entered into its first transaction, acquiring a 50 percent stake in a Danish residential scheme for approximately €120 million ($151 million). The joint venture, P/S Havneholmen, has been formed with quoted real estate developer Sjælsø Gruppen to complete Sj?lsø's prominent Havneholmen residential project on Copenhagen's south harbor. Under the terms of the deal, Benson Elliot will purchase 171 condominiums in Havneholmen, totaling approximately 18,000 square meters.
Doughty sells Vienna's largest office tower
Doughty Hanson has sold the IZD Tower in Vienna to Matrix Property Fund Management for €247 million ($196 million). The 38-story landmark building, one of the city's largest office towers, is located next to the United Nations complex. Doughty Hanson acquired the IZD Tower in December 2000 during construction, investing €30 million of equity. The sale of the IZD Tower generated a return of 3.9 times the fund's initial investment and a gross internal rate of return of 26 percent.
Tchenguiz and aAim check into hotels
Robert Tchenguiz has teamed up with aAIM, the London-based high net worth real estate fund, to buy four-star hotel chain Menzies Hotels Group for £180m ($336 million; €268 million). Nikko Principal Investments, the European principal finance arm of Nikko Cordial bought the group in 2004 in a secondary buyout valued at £120 million. The chain has since been expanded with additional properties in Glasgow and Cambridge.
Macquarie exits Grade II London office
Macquarie Global Property Advisors (MGPA) has sold Chancery Exchange on Furnival Street in London to Schroder Exempt Property Unit Trust for £58.8 million ($110 million; €88 million). Chancery Exchange is located in the Midtown London market and encompasses 81,706 square feet of Grade II office space. MGPA acquired the property as part of a joint venture with City and Provincial.