Wainbridge holds £50m first close on debut fund, buys asset

A new player in UK private equity real estate has emerged, as Wainbridge Capital reaches a first close of £50m for a value-added fund with equity mainly from wealthy Russians.

Wainbridge Capital has emerged as a new UK private equity real estate firm, having held a first close of £50 million (€57 million; $80 million) for a value-added fund targeting Greater London.

The firm has been founded by Rob Rackind and Edouard Fernandez – both of whom once worked at US property giant, Hines.

In a statement today, the London-based firm said it had held a first close for Wainbridge Global Opportunities London with equity coming from high-net-worth individuals, mainly Russians.

Wainbridge said its investors included “some of the country’s most highly respected businessmen” that were seeking to gain exposure primarily to office assets in London and other key real estate markets. 

The fund is fully discretionary and subsequent closings are expected to bring the fund up to £100 million of equity, it added.

As well as revealing the first close, the firm said it had made a debut investment. It has recapitalised and refinanced office building No.1 Croydon formerly known as the NLA Tower in a southern suburb of London for £31 million. The Croydon trophy asset was formerly held in joint venture between private equity real estate firm, Patron Capital Partners, Delek Global Real Estate and private investment firm Princeton.

Following its recapitalisation and refinancing, Wainbridge holds a majority stake in the property with Princeton increasing its ownership. The deal was secured “off market” and was financed by Deutsche Pfandbriefbank with a £20.5 million facility.

Wainbridge’s strategy, it said, was to buy ‘value-add’ office and mixed-use buildings in Greater London that come with capital expenditure or leasing risk.

Rackind, is a former head of asset management for Crownstone, Cambridge Place Investment Management’s €1.5 billion pan-European value-add office platform. He has also worked at Hines, as well as retail-focussed private equity real estate firm, Meyer Bergman and Australia's Valad. Fernandez also worked at Hines where he helped set up two of the company’s overseas offices, in Spain and Mexico, and was responsible for the development of more than 4.5 million square feet of commercial and residential real estate as well as setting up and managing a $200 million residential fund.

Wainbridge said it intended to launch further funds, targeting both retail and institutional investors as well as forming joint ventures with investors and developers. It has also already been awarded a number of mandates, including acting as “owner’s representatives” for the majority equity investors of the 400,000 square foot Cannon Place development in London, a 90,000 square foot office refurbishment in Paris and the development of the new French Lycee school in North London, accommodating 650 students.

The fund’s investment advisory committee comprises senior industry figures, including Robert Orr, former European chief executive of property services firm, Jones Lang LaSalle, and Seth Lieberman, formerly at Lehman Brothers, UBS and Hypo Real Estate and currently with Italy’s Advanced Capital.

Fernandez, principal and co-founder, said prior to setting up Wainbridge and the fund, they saw “real appetite for specialist funds”.
Rackind, principal and co-founder, added investments would typically be complex assets that required experienced teams to turn them around.