TOKYO-Starwood Capital has beefed up its presence here as it prepares to expand the scope and volume of its investing in the market. The Greenwich, CT-based company says Chris O’Brien and Greg Stuppler, as the new managing directors and co-heads of the Japan Branch office of Starwood Capital Japan Operations LLC, will identify and analyze real estate investment opportunities in Japan and elsewhere in Asia as well as provide advice with respect to the management of those assets. Starwood Capital senior managing director Rick Kleeman, the company’s head of global acquisitions, tells the additions represent an evolution of the company’s strategy in the region. “We have been in the market for five years and have established a beachhead,” he says. “We’ve done some successful investing there, including a successful venture with Nomura, but we want to increase the scope and volume of investing so we’re stepping up our commitment to human resources.” The company will continue to do business with Nomura, he says, but now will be looking to form additional partnerships with other such firms. “We have discussions under way,” Kleeman tells’Brien most recently worked at Dorsey & Whitney, LLP where he was a managing partner in their Tokyo office. He was part of that company’s Corporate Finance and Mergers & Acquisitions Practice Groups and also acted as counsel on various matters for their Tokyo office. Prior to Dorsey & Whitney, he was a partner at Piper & Marbury and Gaston & Snow in New York. O’Brien’s specialty is advising purchasers or investment groups in connection with the acquisition, or restructuring of, bankrupt Japanese companies and the acquisition of distressed real estate assets including non-performing loans and commercial real estate.Stuppler comes to Starwood from APL Japan, where he was a managing director of the boutique firm that also focused on distressed real estate opportunities in Japan. During his tenure with APL, Stuppler and his partners acquired properties on behalf of institutional investment groups including Apollo Real Estate, Cargill Value Investments, CS First Boston, Lehman Brothers, Macquarie Group and Itochu Property Development. Prior to APL, he spent six years with Deutsche Bank’s Real Estate Investment Banking Group (formerly Banker’s Trust) based in New York and Hong Kong. Kleeman says Starwood Capital is looking for both large institutional partners as well as smaller entrepreneurial partners. “We don’t need capital, though we do look for partners to co-invest,” he says. “We generally look for partners that bring a certain expertise or deal flow to the table.”Starwood Capital is looking to invest in individual assets or asset-rich companies that could benefit from a restructuring. “We will probably focus to a large degree on hotels,” says Kleeman. “We have a high degree of expertise in hotels, and can also partner with Starwood Hotels.”

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