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Willis Towers Watson names real assets head

The firm’s previous real assets leader Karen Dolenec has resigned and is handing the reins to the real estate head Paul Jayasingha.

Willis Towers Watson has made several changes to its global manager research team, including a new head of real assets, the London-based advisory and investment firm said Wednesday.

Karen Dolenec was previously the head of real assets, starting in October, PERE previously reported. She joined the firm in 2014 and resigned recently, though her end date was not specified, and her future plans are not yet known. Before her time at Willis Towers Watson, she worked for nearly 12 years at Terra Firma Capital Partners, the London-based private equity firm.

Paul Jayasingha, formerly the firm’s head of real estate, is now Willis Towers Watson’s global head of real assets after spending almost seven years as global head of real estate. Jayasingha has been with the firm for over 19 years. He now reports to Sara Rejal, the firm’s global head of liquid diversifying strategies.

“We’ve had a good track record in the outcomes we’ve achieved for our clients, and I’ll be judged on the continuation of that,” Jayasingha told PERE. “It’s a pretty clear objective for me, which is keeping our clients happy.”

In the new role, Jayasingha said he is keen to continue the firm's focus on breaking down siloes among asset classes.

“Under Paul’s leadership, the real estate team has achieved some exceptional results, as an industry leader in innovation and the creation of bespoke solutions which deliver outstanding results for our clients,” Luba Nikulina, the global head of manager research, said in the firm’s statement. “We believe that having Paul oversee all activity across not just real estate, but also infrastructure, natural resources and other real asset strategies, will allow the real assets team to continue its strong track record of innovation, and ensure clarity of strategic direction across these complementary asset classes.”

Last month, the firm launched an open-ended real assets multi-manager fund, with the goal of raising between £2 billion to £3 billion over the next few years. The fund, called the Secure Income Fund, would be invested in real estate, infrastructure, renewable energy and real asset debt investment managers with the capacity for investing in secondaries and making co-investments.

The aim is to provide the UK’s defined benefit pension schemes with an inflation-linked cash flow through investments which generate a better risk-adjusted return than investment-grade credit and index-linked gilts. As of mid-March, the firm had raised £210 million for the strategy.

In Willis Towers Watson’s other executive moves announced Wednesday, Chris Redmond was promoted to the new role of global head of credit and diversifying strategies, and Nimisha Srivastava was tapped as global head of credit.

Willis Towers Watson’s investment business has assets under advisory of over $2.3 trillion and over $87 billion of assets under management.