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2008 Review: Dreier founder catches industry eye

As the real estate industry looks forward to 2009, PrivateEquityRealEstate.com looks back at the past 12 months and the most read stories of the year. Dreier founder, Marc Dreier, admitting to key aspects of a $113m scam was the number one story.

The past year has given everyone in the private equity real estate industry plenty to talk – and read – about; from the collapse of the investment banking system and the bailout of global financial institutions to the credit market squeeze and the subsequent freeze in real estate transactions.

PrivateEquityRealEstate.com has been there to witness these events and more. With more than 9,000 registered users across 106 countries, our daily news service has offered unrivalled coverage of the industry in a year that few will forget.

Here we present the most popular stories from the past 12 months, according to you, our readers.

1     Dreier founder admits to massive scam, 9 Dec
Marc Dreier, the founder of the New York law firm Dreier, admitted to key aspects of an extensive scam in which he allegedly defrauded investment firms of $113 million. The US Securities and Exchange Commission have accused Dreier of selling bogus promissory notes, including from one of his former clients, a New York-based real estate development company.

2     Heitman makes Asia push, 25 June 
The Chicago-based firm expanded into Asia appointing its former head of Europe acquisitions, Harold Schwartz III – a 12-year veteran with the firm – to lead the operations from Tokyo.

3      Young and restless, 2 June
PERE magazine profiled the next generation of private equity real estate managers globally and profiled ten up-and-coming GPs, all of whom are expected to make a significant mark on the industry. Included in the list were Benson Elliot Capital Management and Marc Mogull; Doran Capital Partners and Pietro Doran; Dune Real Estate Partners and Dan Neidich; Harrison Street Real Estate Capital and Christopher Merrill; Moor Park Capital and Gary Wilder; Northwood Investors and John Kukral; Perella Weinberg and Leon Bressler; Prosperitas and Maximo Lima; Red Fort Capital and GB Singh and Samsara Capital and Sachin Shah.

4     CalPERS commits $700m to RE funds, 10 September
Among the commitments made by the $234.2 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) was a $500 million allocation to JER Partners’ Latin America Fund I and $200 million to GI Partners' fund III, which also invests in real estate.

5     LPs are in ‘shock’, 29 October
Van Stults, co-founder of European firm Orion Capital Managers, said at the IMN European Real Estate Opportunity and Private Fund Investing Forum in London, that LPs were in “shock” from declining distributions, but insisted the real estate fund management model was far from dead.

6     The fall of Lehman, 15 September
News of Lehman Brothers’ Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing on 15 September sent shock waves through the industry and sent global financial markets into a tailspin. Lehman’s demise prompted a raft of stories about the assets it held, including on the future of Lehman Brothers Real Estate and the $3.2 billion fund it had just raised.

7      Apollo Global hires Citi veteran for RE, 25 August
Just months after leaving his post as president and chief executive officer of Citi Property Investors, Joseph Azrack resurfaced at Leon Black’s buyout shop, Apollo Global Management – to run their real estate platform.

8     Blackstone’s $13bn ‘war chest’, 6 November
The Blackstone Group revealed in November it had a $13 billion real estate war chest to spend, despite reporting a third quarter loss of $509 million. President and chief operating officer Tony James said the firm had scaled back investments over the past 15 months.

9      Two Fortress-backed companies reportedly in trouble, 17 October
Media reports suggested two portfolio companies of Fortress Investment were trying to raise equity to prevent them from spiraling into bankruptcy. Gagfah, the German state-owned housing group, denied the reports, while ski resort company Intrawest succeeded in refinancing $1.7 billion in debt on the day the loan came due.

10     KKR unveils real estate ambitions, 28 July
In an investor presentation related to the private equity firm’s plans to list shares on the New York Stock Exchange, buyout shop Kohlberg Kravis Roberts revealed it was looking to expand its activities into real estate, as well as mezzanine debt and public equities. The activities, the firm said, would “leverage” the KKR “brand”.