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CHICAGO-Alvarez & Marsal has recently expanded its real estate advisory services practice into the Midwest. The global professional services firm will grow its presence in this region with the addition of Harold “Skip” Perry as managing director in the team’s Chicago office. Perry brings 35 years of experience, extending the office’s expertise into the commercial real estate sector.

“Alvarez & Marsal have some other substantial business in Chicago, and I’m the first person they brought on board to help fill in the void for the real estate advisory practice,” Perry tells GlobeSt.com. “This is the most significant downturn economically from a commercial real estate perspective certainly since the early ’90s. Because of the extreme downturn in the economy and the hit to the commercial real estate markets, A&M realized that we needed a presence in Chicago and got me to join the team to help look at all the issues out there in the marketplace.”

Perry started his career as a senior principal with Pannell Kerr Forster, a national accounting and consulting firm specializing in the hospitality industry. He went on to hold various roles with Kenneth Leventhal & Co. and Ernst & Young, where he eventually served as national partner of the Transaction Real Estate Advisory Group. Most recently, Perry worked as executive managing director at Real Globe Advisors LLC, a firm he founded in 2007 and disbanded in recent months in light of his move to A&M.

“A&M has been talking to me for years and approached me again a couple of months ago, and with the turmoil in commercial real estate, this last time I said let’s talk more seriously,” he said. “My decision was based on the size of the sandbox I wanted to play in – my own company versus A&M which has a bigger sandbox, larger clients and more complex, complicated issues. That’s really what I was looking for; I like to be challenged and I now find that I’m being challenged.”

Chicago was the one of the last areas into which A&M had not expanded its real estate services. “From a real estate advisory perspective, A&M has the US pretty well covered,” Perry says. “We have a presence in all the major markets and cities, and Chicago was the last city void, so they brought me in to fill that gap. A&M has a big presence in Chicago and an office downtown already, and I’ll be there now to build a practice specifically for real estate advisory services.”

Perry has already hired one individual and is seeking to bring on others to expand the Chicago practice. “I’m happy to be recruiting now for some experienced individuals who can work with me to assist clients in the troubled real estate markets right now,” Perry says. “Right now commercial real estate is in crisis mode, and the focus right now is bringing in some seasoned veterans that can triage for our clients and help them through this critical time. We’re seeing commercial real estate fundamentals continuing to decline, it’s a pressure cooker, and our clients and all owners, users and investors in commercial real estate are continuing to see more stress, they’re in need and we’re there to help them through this trying time.”

Perry says economic times have made A&M well-positioned to play a role in helping companies face current challenges. “I felt that A&M is the perfect company for the perfect storm,” Perry says. “The underlying commercial real estate fundamentals have been continuing to nosedive and decrease, and the credit markets are upside down, and as a result, we’ve got this perfect storm in terms of a crisis. A&M is the right company for what we’re going through right now and to help companies in need, and that’s how I assessed it when A&M approached me.”

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