GREENWICH, CT-Starwood Capital Group launched Starwood Real Estate Securities, which will be headed by veteran securities executive Matthew C. Gilman. He has been appointed chief executive officer and portfolio manager for Starwood Real Estate Securities.

For the past five years, Gilman has been senior portfolio manager of ABP Investments US, Inc., the US subsidiary of the Dutch-based civil service pension fund company that is believed to be the largest of its kind in the world. At ABP Investments US, Gilman managed an $8-billion portfolio of publicly traded real estate securities that were diversified across all property type sectors, Starwood Capital officials say.

Commenting on the launch of Starwood Capital Group’s new real estate securities venture, chairman and CEO Barry Sternlicht says, “For many years, I have suggested to institutions that a viable real estate strategy should utilize the liquid REIT market to produce core returns and, to achieve higher returns, they should focus on opportunity funds which can acquire, develop, and structure higher risk reward offerings. Over the long run, successful REIT investing depends upon the same in-depth understanding of real estate fundamentals and the interplay between real estate and capital markets.”

Sternlicht adds that the launch of the new firm is “complementary to and a logical extension of our traditional real estate opportunity fund business.” Starwood Capital is a privately held investment management firm that specializes in real estate investments. Since its founding in 1991, the firm has acquired a diversified real estate portfolio that totals more than $7.5 billion in assets.

Gilman related that REITS continue to be attractive to some investors. “REITs are a compelling investment class for those seeking liquid real estate exposure, strong current income with positive growth prospects, a low correlation to other investment alternatives, broad real estate diversification and long-term inflation protection,” Gilman says. “REITs are an excellent strategy for new entrants to the asset class because of these features, as well as being an excellent diversifier within an existing real estate portfolio.”

Prior to ABP Investments, Gilman covered real estate securities for almost four years at JP Morgan Investment Management and for one year at Genesis Realty Advisors. He began his career at Wellsford Residential Properties, a REIT that specializes in multifamily properties.

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