JER hires European debt specialist

The US firm has turned to a hedge fund partner to drive its debt investment in Europe. Like so many other private equity real estate firms, JER sees opportunity in filling the lending void.

JER Partners, the Virginia-based private equity commercial real estate investment division of JE Robert Companies, has hired David  Merchant from London hedge fund Cheyne Capital to lead its new European debt business.

As managing director, Merchant will report to European head Malcolm Le May, as well as Mark Weiss, president of JER's affiliate, Commercial Debt Advisors.

“The current credit crisis has led to a reduced number of lenders as well as a reduction in the availability of leverage in the commercial real estate sector,” said Weiss in a statement. “This represents a solid opportunity for investors like JER to fill the lending void.”

Weiss added that he wanted JER to become a major force in the European commercial real estate debt market.

Merchant was a partner at Cheyne Capital where he headed up the Cheyne Asset-Backed Fund, a European vehicle that invested primarily in real estate debt products in both commercial and residential real estate. Before that he was head of the real estate large loan group at Morgan Stanley.