This article is sponsored by Henderson Park
What have been the key events for your firm over the past 12 months?
We ended 2019 with a 40-strong team, almost twice what it was the previous year, and I’m immensely proud of the talent that we’ve been fortunate enough to attract. Our growth and success are a credit to our team and long-standing operating partner relationships that have enabled us to source and execute some really exciting transactions, the vast majority of which were off-market or accessed following broken sale processes.
In 2019 we entered new territories including Ireland, Poland and Germany, and finished the year having nearly doubled our AUM to around $10 billion. We’ve been humbled by the support of our investors, which culminated in the closing of our inaugural fund in 2019 at $2.2 billion, with a further $940 million of co-invest equity deployed to date.
What has the operating environment been like?
Investment markets are always dynamic with plenty of challenges and opportunities. Low interest rates mean there’s a lot of money targeting well-let yielding assets. Instead we have been focused on buying large ‘Main & Main’ assets that have been under-invested or need hands-on asset management to give them a new lease on life. The team is not afraid to roll up their sleeves, tackle complexity and work hard to drive great returns.
We set out to target Western Europe and today over 90 percent of our assets are in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Ireland. We tend to focus on key gateway and capital cities in these markets, which offer greater liquidity and show promising fundamentals. The UK has gone through some Brexit-related turbulence, which has presented several attractive buying opportunities.
What key challenges did you have to overcome?
Fundraising is always hard work, particularly for a first-time fund or a young firm, and the environment has been competitive over the last few years with a lot of managers raising capital.
We were grateful to have the backing of three cornerstone investors at launch, which gave us enough capital to build an exceptional team and make investments while growing the platform. Our early investments allowed follow-on investors to kick the tires and underwrite our ability to put their capital to work, as well as the team, our firm’s culture and DNA.
What or who is mainly responsible for your success?
Like most businesses, success in our industry is a team effort. Speaking from personal experience, after 15 years at Goldman, before leaving in 2008 to build another European real estate business, there’s certainly been a lot of valuable lessons learned along the way. Every member of our team brings unique and diverse experiences and perspectives with them, regardless of where they are in their career, all of which is extremely valuable.
While my track record across 25 years allowed us to win the initial support of our cornerstone investors, it would not have been enough to raise the incremental capital or execute the nearly $10 billion of deals we have since closed. Credibility, teamwork and integrity are critical attributes when attracting top talent and building a firm.
We are lucky to have formed strong partnerships with best-in-class partners, operators, lenders, advisors and vendors, all of whom have enabled us to gain exposure to great deals and secure attractive financing across the board