Benson Elliot gears up for Italian job

The London-based real estate firm has appointed a former Lehman Brothers’ director to spearhead investment in Italy.

Benson Elliot, the private equity real estate firm recently launched by former Doughty Hanson Real Estate head Marc Mogull, has appointed Leopoldo Andreis de Gregorio to focus on investment activities in Italy.

Between 2000 and 2006, De Gregorio, the former vice president and director of Lehman Brothers Real Estate Partners (LBREP), led more than €1.5 billion ($1.9 billion) of deals having been responsible for finding, structuring and underwriting transaction as well finding local operating partners, and structuring and negotiating joint ventures.

De Gregorio’s appointment at Benson Elliot follows that of Trish Geery, former managing director and head of global real estate for the Dubai Investment Group (DIG), and Philip Irons, former head of transactions at Schroders, as the company seeks to invest €1 billion ($1.3 billion) for a European fund.

Founder and managing partner Mogull, who left Doughty Hanson last May, is one of the top private equity property managers in Europe. Earlier this year the firm announced the initial closing of its first fund with €300 million ($388 million) of equity.

With gearing of around 75 percent, the fund will have up to €1 billion to spend across Europe, primarily in the UK, Germany, Scandinavia, Italy, France and central and eastern Europe.

Mogull said:  “From the outset I said I wanted to assemble at Benson Elliot a team of skilled professionals who are well-respected and well-connected in their markets. Leopoldo is one of the most talented real estate professionals in Italy and a great addition to the team.  I’m excited about the pace at which Benson Elliot is moving forward and the team we’re putting together.” 

Prior to joining Lehman, De Gregorio was at property advisor Healey & Baker in Milan, now called Cushman & Wakefield, advising financial institutions such as Deutsche Bank, Schroders and Morgan Stanley on real estate investment in Italy.