When Paul Kazilionis (pictured at left) and Bill Walton left Morgan Stanley to set up their own opportunity fund in the early 1990s, they embarked on a partnership that is considered one of the most successful in the history of the asset class.
In 1994, Kazilionis and Walton formed Westbrook Partners, a New York-based private equity real estate firm admired as much among industry observers for its innovative investment strategies as the outsized returns it generated for investors. With two of the industry's leading lights at the helm, Westbrook attracted more than $4 billion in equity commitments over the firm's first four funds.
But, in 2003, after years of rumors that a split was imminent, Walton and Kazilionis parted ways over differences in investment strategies. Kazilionis continues to invest under a new private equity real estate firm that carries the Westbrook name, while Walton and several Westbrook partners left to form Rockpoint Group. However, the managing members of the original Westbrook, including both Walton and Kazilionis, continue to oversee ongoing investments from the firm's pre-2003 vehicles.
Though the two real estate pros may no longer be working together, each one has continued to find individual success. Since its formation in 2003, Walton's Rockpoint has raised $4 billion for three opportunistic funds and one structured finance vehicle. Kazilionis, who has generated 35 percent returns over the course of his investment career, recently closed Westbrook's third fund since the split on $1 billion.