US investors back Capital & Regional co-founder

Martin Barber, one of the UK’s best known property entrepreneurs and one of the few British executives with experience in the US REIT market, says he has backing from US investors for a company called Zenith Estates.

US institutional investors are backing a UK company called Zenith Estates to acquire UK commercial real estate.

Martin Barber, co-founder of public property company Capital & Regional, from which he stepped down in 2007, said in an interview with the Financial Times that he wanted to acquire £2bn-£3 billion (€2.3 billion-€3.4 billion; $3.2 billion-$4.9 billion) of assets.

He said American investors were backing a venture called Zenith Estates that was set up with his son, Jamie. 
Barber is one of the few UK property veterans with experience of being on the board of a US REIT.

He said he was in talks with UK banks to acquire troubled loans, had lined up £1 billion of deals, and would look to float the business at the end of five years.  

“There are covered shopping centres in good towns that were owned by developers, rather than managers, and now banks have had to take charge. We're putting in equity and providing asset management,” he said. He also said the downturn in the commercial property market was not yet over, although he added that stability was returning.