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IRVINE, CA-Atherton-Newport Investments plans to invest in and develop $600 million of property this year and has brought on new exec Brett Lay as chief financial officer to help spearhead the expansion. The company also plans to take its operations global in 2008.

Ashish Khatana, a co-founder of the company, tells GlobeSt.com that Atherton-Newport will be “investing quite a bit more” in some of the markets where it already has assets and will be entering two or three more markets. The locally based company, funded through a combination of its own capital, high-net-worth individuals and institutional investors, invested $425 million in 2006 after $190 million of investment in 2005.

Atherton-Newport, which was formed in 2001, has brought Lay on as part of its plan to expand its operations both in the US and globally. The new Atherton-Newport CFO has 22 years of experience as a financial executive, including a post at Pihana Pacific, a data center developer and owner that grew from an eight-person firm to a multinational venture of 260 employees in six countries.

In his post at Pihana Pacific, Lay raised $230 million in private equity including participation from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Columbia Capital and UBS. Most recently, he served as an independent financial adviser specializing in asset valuations, capital structures, mergers and acquisitions.

Atherton-Newport, which was formed in 2001, has been acquiring multifamily investments in high barrier-to-entry markets in California, Florida, New York, Washington, DC, Connecticut, Nevada, Phoenix and Seattle. Khatana tells GlobeSt.com that the firm generally looks for properties of 100 units or more in good infill locations, with below-market rents and subpar management that offers opportunities for upside through capital investment and improved management.

Most of the multifamily assets that Atherton-Newport invests in are B and C properties about 10 to 15 years old, Khatana says, with the business plan aimed at generating value through capital improvements that in turn support rent increases. The company’s typical hold period is about four years.

Although Atherton-Newport is one of many firms that have been pursuing the value-added strategy for a number of years now, Khatana says that the deals are still there for those who look for them. “It’s been going on for a long time now, but we and our competitors are still finding them,” he says of the value-added plays.

Atherton-Newport was founded by Khatana and Roger Fiola. The company acquires, rehabilitates, repositions and manages multifamily investments as well as the entitlement and development of well located, infill residential sites. The firm also develops single-family properties in several US markets.

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