TIAA-CREF opens office in London

The real estate arm of the US pension fund and asset manager is targeting commercial real estate opportunities in the UK and Europe with its first international office. Former Invesco retail executive Paul Wilson will lead the effort.

TIAA-CREF Global Real Estate is expanding its investments in Europe and the UK after opening its first international office in London.

The real estate arm of the US pension fund and money manager, which has invested $24 billion (€16 billion) through its real estate program to date, will use the Cavendish Square office to spearhead investments in the office, retail, industrial/logistics and multifamily sectors.

Tom Garbutt, managing director and head of TIAA-CREF Global Real Estate, said in a statement the fund manager had invested in European real estate for the past 13 years but the office would help expand the portfolio. “We believe that having our own local, dedicated and experienced investment professionals on the ground will add to our understanding of these markets,” he added.

The office will be staffed by local investment professionals, they said. According to media reports, Paul Wilson, a former head of retail investments at Invesco Real Estate, will lead the office, for which the fund is planning to hire five or six more people over the next 18 months.

The US pension fund manages around $420 billion on behalf of 3.4 million academics, doctors and teachers. In an interview with the Financial Times, the fund said the move into London came at an “interesting time,'' largely because of the “credit issues” currently being seen in Europe, and notably in the UK.

TIAA-CREF was formed in 1918 by the Carnegie Foundation to provide pensions for university and college professors. It made its first commercial real estate investment in the US in 1947 and internationally in 1995. It now has more than $4 billion of international real estate assets.