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FORT WORTH-After a nationwide search for a fund management leader, Crescent Real Estate Equities Co. has snagged a seasoned portfolio manager from Invesco Real Estate in Dallas. The REIT, which has been transitioning into an investment manager, eyes the new position as the first step in building a $1-billion acquisitions fund.

Effective May 16, Paul R. Smith, a five-year Invesco manager who oversaw a $325-million value-add commingled fund, takes the helm as Crescent’s managing director of fund management. Invesco has named associate partner Jay P. Hurley to backfill Smith’s role with the fund.

“We wish Paul well in his new endeavors,” David Ridley, CEO of Invesco Real Estate, says in a prepared statement.

Smith is tasked with building a billion-dollar fund to seed the REIT’s acquisitions appetite. “I could see him doing $1 billion in funds in the not-to-distant future,” Dennis Alberts, Crescent’s president and COO, tells GlobeSt.com. “His primary challenge will be to get us involved in the fund business.”

Alberts says Smith’s name was on the headhunter’s wish list when the search began six weeks ago. “We had a number of outstanding candidates for this position. Paul just came out on top,” he says. “It will be a team of one to start, but we’re committed to add to the team as he feels fit.”

For two years, the Fort Worth-based REIT has been selling non-core properties as well as partnership stakes in its key holdings to position itself as an investment manager. Hiring a top executive to build funds for a buying pool not only is viewed as key to the REIT’s future, but is “a natural evolution for us,” Alberts says.

Smith will have ample time to “get his feet on the ground” before the fund-raising campaign swings into action, Alberts says, adding Crescent isn’t going to wait for a fund to be built before it buys again. “Crescent has the ability to buy 100% on the balance sheet,” he says, “and then use them to seed funds or place them into funds.”

With 15 years’ experience, Smith’s background includes portfolio management, financing and fund-raising. Prior to joining Invesco, he spent 11 years as portfolio manager of Dallas-based Sarofim Realty Advisors, where he managed $1 billion of office and retail properties for several institutional clients.

“The reputation that he has in the marketplace is exceptional,” John C. Goff, Crescent’s vice chairman and CEO, says in a press release, “and the wealth of knowledge that he brings to Crescent, particularly in institutional fund management, will be extraordinarily valuable to us.”

Smith’s replacement at Invesco is an 18-year professional, who joined the firm a decade ago as a senior acquisitions executive. Prior to the promotion, Hurley was Invesco’s director of underwriting and dispositions director.

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