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GREENWICH, CT-The head of Starwood Capital Group’s real estate securities venture begins work today with an eye on building the business from the ground up. Matthew C. Gilman, who was named chief executive officer and portfolio manager for Starwood Real Estate Securities last week, says the new venture will initially have about seven employees and will look to find investors interested in REITs and other publicly traded real estate companies.

“Our initial focus will be on domestic real estate investments for institutional clients,” he says. “Thereafter, we will probably look at international real estate and eventually establish a real estate hedge fund.”

Gilman, who is a resident of New Canaan, says that the workforce of Starwood Real Estate Securities, will grow “as assets come in.” He would not provide a target on how much investment capital the new organization hopes to secure. Gilman would only say that the organization planned to aggressively target new client investment.

Gilman believes the locally based company will achieve success in the next three to five years in building an asset base. For the past five years, Gilman has been senior portfolio manager of ABP Investments US Inc., of New York City, 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.

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