Starwood flies high with awards hat-trick

Starwood Capital Group was victorious three times in the 2010 Global PERE Awards, capping off an extraordinary year for the Greenwich, Connecticut-based firm. Other notable victories were achieved by Blackstone, Carlyle and Harvest Capital Partners.

The efforts of Starwood Capital Group last year paid off in a big way after the private equity real estate sector voted the Greenwich, Connecticut-based firm to wins in three categories in the 2010 Global PERE Awards.

Starwood chief Barry Sternlicht scooped two awards, Global Industry Figure of the Year and North America Industry Figure of the Year, while his firm emerged victorious in the North America Firm of the Year category. Sternlicht’s victory as Global Industry Figure means he has retained the title for the second year running.

This year’s Global Award categories will be remembered for victories by US individuals and firms over those nominated in Asia, among other things. Following votes by PERE readers worldwide, Sternlicht emerged as Global Industry Figure ahead of Andie Kang, senior portfolio manager, global real assets, at Korea’s National Pension Service and Collin Lau, global head of real estate at China Investment Corporation, although the latter won the award for Asia Industry Figure of the Year.

The accolades bestowed on Sternlicht and Starwood reflect the firm’s ascendance in 2010. The firm was a particularly active investor in distressed loans and assets in the US throughout the year.  PERE frequently reported on its forays in troubled mortgages or foreclosed offices properties, as well as its more familiar hospitality endeavours. Starwood also expanded its investment reach to South America, opening its first office in Brazil.

Significantly, it also was the greatest riser in the PERE 30 rankings, the annual assessment of the equity raising exploits of the world’s largest private equity real estate firms over the most recent five years. By closing on $2.8 billion of equity, while many of its rivals struggled to raise anything, Starwood was able to rise 17 places to 13th place, the fastest riser seen since PERE first started compiling the rankings three years ago.

Starwood was not successful in all the categories it was nominated, however, losing to The Blackstone Group in the Global Firm of the Year award.

Having largely sat out of the market until the end of 2009, 2010 was a year in which the New York giant ramped up its investing programme. Tony James, Blackstone’s president and chief operating officer, said following the firm’s fourth quarter and annual earnings report that it had called $4.1 billion and invested $5 billion of equity in 2010 – 80 percent up on its outlays in 2009. Yesterday’s news of its selection as wnning bidder on Sydney-based Centro Properties Group’s US retail assets demonstrated just how the firm has continued high levels of investing. That deal is expected to cost Blackstone $9.4 billion reflecting one of the largest real estate deals post-global financial crisis.

At an event in London last week, James declared “real estate is our best business.” Prior to the Centro deal, which is still to complete, Blackstone had $128.1 billion of assets under management.

Involved in so much, it was hardly surprising that Blackstone was part of the $6.8 billion recapitalisation of General Growth Properties, which won Global Deal of the Year. Brookfield Asset Management led the recapitalisation, so the Toronto-based alternative investment management firm will inherit that award.

Robert Hodges, managing director for Europe at The Carlyle Group, won the Industry Figure of Year award in Europe, while Rockspring Property Investment Managers prevailed in the Firm of the Year award for the region. In Asia, CIC’s Lau was joined by Firm of the Year winner Harvest Capital Partners.

To read the full list of winners, click here.