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TPG hires Westbrook managing principal, builds RE team

After 13 years with Westbrook Partners, Avi Banyasz will help David Bonderman’s private equity firm push further into the real estate asset class.

TPG has hired former Westbrook Partners managing principal Avi Banyasz as it looks to develop a real estate programme within its firm.

Banyasz worked at New York-based Westbrook for 13 years and led the firm’s New York City acquisitions group. PERE understands that Banyasz will move to TPG in a senior role at the end of January, helping to develop a real estate programme at the firm. He is expected to work alongside TPG’s head of North American buyouts Kelvin Davis.

[This is a] unique opportunity for [Banyasz] to help create a real estate programme within TPG's broader business lines.

Westbrook Partners' letter to
limited partners

In a letter to limited partners – and seen by PERE – Westbrook said the move offered a “unique opportunity for [Banyasz] to help create a real estate programme within TPG's broader business lines. We are pleased for Avi and wish him the best of luck in his new endeavours. We look forward to working with both Avi and TPG on projects in the future.” Westbrook declined to comment at press time. A spokesman for TPG confirmed Banyasz was set to join the firm at the end of January.

Banyasz’s duties will be taken over by Westbrook's existing acquisitions team and managing principal and chief operating officer of Westbrook, Sush Torgalkar, who also leads the firm’s asset management activities. No key man clauses were triggered by the departure, the letter added.

Fort Worth, Texas-based TPG has been actively increasing its real estate activities over the past year, last month closing on a $505 million deal to buy ProLogis’ Catellus assets. That particular transaction sees TPG take over the direct ownership or equity interests of a variety of US assets, including four shopping centres, two office buildings, 11 mixed-use projects with related land and development agreements, two residential development joint ventures, Los Angeles’ Union Station, certain ground leases and other right-of-way leases.

Rumoured to be in the final bidding for the ING Real Estate Investment Management platform – alongside Richard Ellis, Jones Lang LaSalle and Ares Capital Management – TPG is cementing its reputation as an up-and-coming global real estate player, which could eventually rival the likes of The Blackstone Group and Starwood Capital Group.

However, despite becoming increasingly active in the asset class, TPG has never raised a dedicated real estate fund. Instead, the firm founded by David Bonderman, has invested in the sector via its two latest flagship buyout funds, the $15 billion TPG Partners V fund and TPG Partners VI, which closed on $18.8 billion in 2008.

In December, Westbrook, which currently has 125 employees, agreed to underwrite the £37.5 million (€44 million; $58 million) share offering of London-based property company O Twelve, a listed closed-ended investment. The deal would be made through the firm’s $2.25 billion Westbrook Real Estate Fund VIII and would see the GP acquire between 50 percent and 75 percent of O Twelve.