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Union Hanover restructures for £1bn hotels growth

By Paul Norman - Friday, February 28, 2014 12:16

Union Hanover Securities has restructured as an investment grade hotel development and operations platform which aims to grow its current £350m portfolio to £1bn over the next five years.

The re-engineered investment and development company has announced a refinancing that has enabled it to restructure and finance a series of major hires.

The refinancing includes an equity injection from EquityBridge Asset Management (EBAM) which it said has allowed it to build a team to capitalise on the rebound of the European property market.

Eric Jafari, previously the chief executive and co-founder of BridgePoint Ventures, has been appointed as the European Managing Director to spearhead the initiative.

Jafari's former colleague Peter Debs has also moved across to Union Hanover as Managing Director with responsibility for the development of the groups Americas initiatives.

Andrew Fowler, formerly the Director of Property Acquisition for StayCity Ltd, has been appointed as Hospitality Director.

Jafari and Fowler are co-creators of the hospitality concepts Urban Villa and hotel/hostel chain Hoax which Union Hanover now intends on scaling up across European and American major gateway cities.

The company has a HOAX in Liverpool and hotel developments in Aldgate, Waterloo, Stratford, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Portsmouth.

Merzak Kaddour, the former Head of Hospitality Finance at National Australia Group (Europe), where he led the bank’s Hospitality Sector for both Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank with responsibility for a £1.5bn hotel portfolio is joining in April, as Hotels Operations Director

Jafari, a regular keynote speaker at hospitality and real estate finance conferences, said: “EquityBridge Asset Management's capital injection has provided us with the resources to develop an institutional grade platform with the experience and depth to cover all three facets of hospitality: property development, operations and creative brand development. This provides us with a very clear and demonstrable competitive advantage in our space”.

Fowler added: “With limited resources Union Hanover was able to assemble a £350m GDV portfolio. With EquityBridge’s backing and the new best-in-class team, there is no reason why we should not be able to grow our existing platform from £350m to £1bn within five years.”

Charles Cresser, who formerly headed a 30 plus strong team of project and cost managers at Jones Lang LaSalle, is the new European Development Director for Union Hanover. He has operated in this role throughout EMEA building new businesses.

Florida-based Richard Kiibler is the development director for Union Hanover Securities in the Americas with over 15 years of development and project management experience in the United States, Panama and Mexico.

Laura Prosser, previously a senior associate in the Global Real Estate Group at Ashurst, has joined Union Hanover as General Counsel and Muhammad Mushtaq has joined as Group Financial Controller.

In his previous roles, he served in the same capacity for Auriga Holdings, Vakson Group, Grant Thornton International and Askari Group. Matthew Grzywinski, the principal of the New York City-based architectural firm Grzywinski and Pons has been appointed as the firm’s architectural and design counsel.

Warren Malschinger, managing director of Guernsey-based real estate, private equity and asset manager EBAM, explained his decision to back the new platform: "Our investors have been very impressed with Union Hanover's access to deal flow, creative and cutting edge innovation and design development. These valuable skills have now been further enhanced with the very experienced delivery team that has been assembled. I have got to know Eric, Charles, Laura, Peter and Andrew very well - they make a formidable combination.”


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