Crosstree launches with up to £500m backing

Blackstone, Starwood duo receive backing from one of the world’s richest men to launch Crosstree Real Estate Partners in a bid to invest in up to £1bn of property in the UK and possibly further afield into Europe.

Nick Lyle and Sean Arnold have received backing of up to £500 million (€576 million; $825 million) from one of the world’s richest men to invest in UK real estate and possible in Continental Europe.

The pair, who worked at The Blackstone Group and Starwood Capital Group respectively, are launching Crosstree Real Estate Partners with backing from Ernesto Bertarelli, the Swiss-Italian pharmaceuticals billionaire, according to the Financial Times which said the new business could is expected to launch next month.

The initial focus of the new business is expected to be on acquisitions in the UK ranging from opportunistic-type deals to core real estate.

Swiss-Italian Bertarelli is understood to regard the backing of Crosstree as one way of diversifying his family’s wealth having expanded its fortune dramatically in 2006 by selling Serono, the pharmaceuticals company, for €10.6 billion to Germany’s Merck.

Lyle is a former managing director at Blackstone’s Real Estate Group based in London, from where he headed up UK acquisitions and Arnold was head of European transactions for Starwood, also based in London.

The news comes just days after PERE revealed that Starwood’s top real estate dealmaker, Jeffrey Dishner, was relocating to London to head acquisitions in the UK and Europe, though the company played down Arnold’s departure as a factor.

While initially investing on behalf of the Bertarelli family, Crosstree may raise additional third party equity in either a fund or club format in future, said the report.

20 August 2011 | Robin Marriott | PERE