MEXICO CITY-The US-based LaSalle Investment Management has created a new team to focus on the Mexican market. Based in the country’s largest city, the operation will be led by former GE Real Estate official Eduardo Guemez, says Peter Schaff, LIM’s regional CEO for North America.

“Mexico is an increasingly important market for many of our clients, which is a key reason why we are focusing on building our presence there,” Schaff explains. “With the new team in place, we plan to consolidate our strong Mexico platform to grow our investment management business into Latin America.” LIM’s parent, Jones Lang LaSalle, already has an established group in Mexico, and Schaff says the two entities will “work closely” together to provide a full-spectrum of real estate services.

Overseeing $39.5 billion in public and private real estate assets, LIM has 525 professionals worldwide. The Chicago-based firm has previously participated in select Mexican real estate ventures, but Schaff says that improving property fundamentals and a growing economy justify the wider coverage. Mexico City was among a dozen markets compiled in an LIM list last month as among the more promising global enclaves, joining such heavyweights as Hong Kong, London, Paris and Tokyo. Office rents have increased by 5% in Mexico City during the past year, LIM says in the review, opining that the market is finally recovering from a period of oversupply.

Also listed in the dozen cities were New York City and Sao Paolo, Brazil, demonstrating LIM’s confidence in the Americas as a whole for real estate investment. The firm has also been supportive of buying into the Canadian real estate arena. North American countries beyond the United States are poised to benefit from increased trade and polices such as Nafta, according to LIM, which anticipates better times ahead in such Mexican markets as Monterrey and Maquiladora.

From an investment standpoint, Mexico has hardly been tapped, as LIM showed in a recent report that estimated $283 billion of direct commercial real estate investment in the Americas in 2006. Of that value, 96% was concentrated in the US, even as investors in Australia, Germany and Ireland seek to diversify their overseas real estate holdings. According to LIM, Mexico is gaining in popularity as a choice for such capital.

In his role as CEO Mexico for LIM, Guemez is responsible for all investment activities in the country. A member of the Urban Land Institute and International Council of Shopping Centers, he had previously served as managing director of equity for GE Real Estate in Mexico and also negotiated joint venture terms for investments in residential and retail properties. Among his deals were selling a 22-property industrial portfolio; managing a $300-million retail fund with Kimco Realty; and launching a residential real estate program valued at $250 million.

Joining Guemez from GE Real Estate Mexico is Jorge Cerda, who is in charge of all operations for the Mexico portfolio of properties, while Marin Maydon has been retained as vice president, acquisitions. He will oversee acquisitions, investments and development joint ventures for all property types in Mexico.

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