PGIM bets on Australia RE debt with senior hire

Stephen O’Keeffe has joined PGIM Real Estate to lead its real estate debt operations in Australia.

PGIM Real Estate has appointed Stephen O’Keeffe to lead its real estate debt operations in Australia. This is a newly-created role by the firm to capitalize on the growing real estate debt investing opportunities in the country, PERE, a sister publication of Private Debt Investor understands.

O’Keeffe has joined as executive director, responsible for sourcing real estate debt investments and managing relationships with prospective borrowers and partners, the firm said in a statement announcing the hire.

One of the first mandates O’Keeffe will be executing on is a $320 million mandate given by an institutional investor to build and manage a portfolio of whole loans and mezzanine debt investments in the country. The discretionary strategy will target loans of between $11 million to $57 million across different investment strategies, including income-producing, value-add and construction loans.

“Real estate debt is increasingly a significant part of our strategy, which has in the past largely focused on core and value-add investments,” commented Steve Bulloch, PGIM’s head of Australia. “As such, Stephen’s depth of experience in the Australian debt markets will be invaluable as we continue to build our high-yield lending presence in Australia, working with a variety of quality sponsors and funding partners.”

O’Keeffe will be based in Sydney and will be reporting to Bulloch. He joins the real estate investment manager from the property services firm CBRE where he was a senior director in the debt and structured finance team. At CBRE, he helped arrange, structure and close approximately $765 million in new debt origination and was responsible for the asset management and servicing of CBRE’s $1.38 billion in client loans.

In Australia, PGIM Real Estate has so far completed around $765 million of transactions, which include high-yield real estate debt investments totaling $168 million on behalf of investors.