Union Investment hires head of Americas

The Hamburg, Germany-based real estate investment firm has tapped CBRE veteran Thomas Gnieser to head its $2 billion investment drive in the region.

Union Investment Real Estate has appointed Thomas Gnieser to head up the firm’s efforts to double its property holdings in the Americas over the next several years. He joined the company, which manages some €24 billion in assets on behalf of German retail investors, earlier this month as senior investment manager and will be based in its New York office.

In the newly created post of head of Americas, Gnieser will be in charge of Union Investment’s deals in North America and Latin America, where the firm currently  manages approximately 20 office properties worth more than €1.8 billion in the US and Mexico. He will report to Martin Brühl, who is head of international investment management and oversees property transactions in the Americas, Asia-Pacific and the UK.

The hire of Gnieser comes five months after Union Investment – which currently is in the process of globalizing its property portfolio – officially announced its plans to deploy up to $2 billion in real estate in the Americas over the next three to five years. As part of that initiative, Brühl was named principal representative for the Americas, which signaled shifting more of his time and efforts to that region.

Gnieser joins Union Investment from Los Angeles-based property services firm CB Richard Ellis, where he had been part of the capital markets group of CBRE Australia since November 2005. Based in Sydney, he most recently served as director of international investments and focused on sourcing and executing investments in Australia and New Zealand for offshore investors. Additionally, Gnieser assisted offshore investors in forming relationships with Australian fund managers for indirect investments in Australian wholesale funds.

Given its plans to expand its investment activities in both the US and Mexico, Union Investment is anticipated to add more staff in the region over the next several years. The New York office opened in 2003 and currently comprises three senior investment managers.