Hermes appoints debt chief

London-based Hermes Real Estate Investment Management led by Chris Taylor has hired a seasoned debt expert for its nascent real estate debt programme.

Hermes Real Estate Investment Management (HREIM), the London-based real estate asset manager, has made a key hire in a bid to become active in the UK real estate lending market and possibly further afield.

The firm said Marcus Palmer had been appointed as head of real estate debt based at the company’s headquarters in London, and will report to Ben Sanderson, director of international investment.

In a statement the company said he would be responsible for managing the real estate debt programme, though it did not offer further details of the programme.

Prior to joining HREIM, Palmer was a partner at Chalkhill Partners, a London–based boutique financial services firm that was established in 2009 where he developed a real estate finance division from March 2011.

Prior to that, he spent nearly three and a half years building a team then restructuring billions of pounds of real estate exposure originated by Anglo Irish bank and held by Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). He also had spells at Royal Bank of Scotland as a senior director within its real estate structured finance group and at Barclays Capital.

Chris Taylor, chief executive of HREIM said in a statement that Palmer had extensive industry expertise, global experience and a deep understanding of the UK and international real estate markets.

Hermes has £25.6 billion (€30 million; $40 billion) of assets under management, with around £5.9 billion of that being in real estate. Its flagship vehicle is the UK Hermes Property Unit Trust which contains some 132 limited partners.

Since Taylor joined as head of real estate in 2010 from Australian-based global investor QIC, Hermes’ real estate strategy has been to expand its real estate services and to diversify globally.

In 2011, for example, it joined forces with New Jersey-based real estate investment firm Hampshire Real Estate Companies as its local operating partner in the US. In 2012 it launched the result of that joint venture, the HUH US Real Estate Income Fund, to target non-discretionary retail spending properties. The BT Pension Scheme and UOB Global Capital, a subsidiary of Singapore’s United Overseas Bank, are cornerstone investors.

The debt platform is a new business area.