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Harold Garrison, chairman and CEO of the US fund manager HDG Mansur, believes that the US and key European markets have bottomed out since the final quarter of 2010 and are set fair for growth over the next few years. Mansur may have avoided acquisitions for the past two years, but it has hardly been idle. It was during the downturn that it started construction on one of the UK’s largest current speculative mixed-use projects — the 93,000 sq m Finzels Reach in Bristol. But the overall focus has been on asset management and, in 2010 alone, the group signed 130,000 sq m of new and renewed leases across its worldwide portfolio.

Drawing on the performance of this $1.6bn portfolio has, Garrison says, “given us the confidence to move our heads above the parapets” and start buying again on “a very selective basis”. Indianapolis-based Mansur has identified nine commercial property targets — mainly single-tenant offices — worth a total of $600m and spread across the US, the UK and Germany.

“We are talking to investors about joining with us,” Garrison says. “We are not going to get all of these properties, but we are testing the water. It also helps us figure out what the model should be for greater investment.” Indeed, the current foray into the market could act as a precursor to Mansur seeking to raise $500m of equity for an innovative new fund this summer. Mansur is best known as a pioneering force in Shari’ah-compliant investment but this time, Garrison says, the group is looking beyond Shari’ah.

“One of the things we are working on with Shari’ah advisors is the ability to allow Shari’ah and non-Shari’ah investors to invest in the same projects, and provide them with greater liquidity opportunities. It is necessary for a company like ours, with an international focus, to continue to diversify the capital and not just be singularly focused.”

Liquidity and diversification will also see Mansur launch its first international property fund this summer for US retail investors. Just like the institutional fund, Garrison says, the appetite is there for “strong markets and core products”, where the income is predictable and low-risk.

“That’s exactly what investors are looking for and they are beginning to make commitments, or show very strong interest in wanting to make commitments, in specific deals,” he adds. “We have not seen that for almost two years.”

This article was taken from MIPIM Daily News 3. Read more here.

Top image credit : Photobank gallery


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